The riots in Charlottesville this past weekend that left three dead has hit a nerve for many people of all ages, including me a millenial who was primarily raised in Northern Virginia.
Growing up in the 90s there were times I wanted to avoid history class. I don’t speak about it often even now I find myself struggling to string together reasoned sentences but growing up as a child with a father in the military required me to move every two years to cities where I sometimes would be the only African American in the entire school, let alone class which you can imagine was a history lesson in itself.
The truth is, of course I always knew I was Black, but there were times where social studies seemed to remind me of that and more more specifically, where my people stood in the squares of America’s quilted history.
The best example I can give is during the winter of fourth grade when I moved from San Diego to Springfield, Va., a small town right outside of Washington, D.C. and two hours north of the sleepy Charlottesville. Not only was the climate drastically different, so was the temperature in education.
Before, I was learning about the Gold Rush coupled with Mexico’s influence on the Golden State, and then suddenly I’m being thrown into colonial Williamsburg or another Virginia-specific time period that usually had slavery looming in the background.
I mean, the name of the nearest high school was Robert E. Lee. Go figure.
But, despite Virginia’s racist history, I will say at the impressionable age of nine, the students in my class even young white males were always equally haunted by the inequalities we read about. Or so it seemed.
Collectively, we all played soccer or kickball outside, ate lunch together and then later sat in the classrooms vowing to never let history repeat itself whether it be slavery, the holocaust, or any type of discrimination for that matter. Or so I thought.
White, Black, Asian, Indian, female, male, immigrant, the list goes on. Together, though young, our minds were strong. We were impressionable, but with a moral compass that guided us in a positive direction.
So how did we get here
“Here,” as in over the weekend when Ku Klux Klan members, lukewarm Nazis and self-proclaimed white supremacists of all ages marched under Trump’s name over the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, a statue that depicts the Confederacy’s top general riding a horse in the quiet town of Charlottesville.
Former Klan leader David Duke even got his marchers riled up with lines that they were going to “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump” to “take our country back.” And rather than immediately condemning the instigator, as most presidents should, Trump remained inactive until he finally graced us with your standard “both sides are wrong” light-handed spanking.
What was more surprising than Trump’s tardiness was the age of James Alex Fields Jr., who smashed a car into a line of cars targeting people who were protesting the rally staged by white nationalists killing a 32-year-woman and injuring at least 19 people.
Fields is 20, meaning that he, was not raised during a time period where segregation was at its peak in American history like Dylann Roof, a 23-year-old white supremacist who tragically murdered nine African Americans in 2015 who were attending bible study in Charleston, S.C.
Roof, despite claiming to want to save his race, hung out on a regular basis with aBlack friendwho spoke out about the senseless murders and couldn’t come to terms with his friend’s racist act of violence still defending his friend from being labeled as such a racist.
There were rows of supremacists over the weekend showing their ugly faces and even reports of the growing numbers of KKK members. However, it seems to me that there’s a trend of weak-minds on the rise, not “white-nationalists.”
When you were nine, intuition and moral conscience trumped hate. Trading Pokmon cards, playing video games and sharing Snack Packs with everyone wasn’t a problem. So why is progression such an issue
At what age do former friends crossover to the dark side of ignorance At what point does your former youth club teammate no longer empathize with the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin or the banning of immigrants
At the age of nine, I didn’t feel like I was living in the history that my peers and I were learning about. In fact, I never would’ve thought that history would’ve repeated itself considering how traumatic it was to learn in the first place.
Apparently, some of us didn’t learn a thing.
A weak mind, easily influenced by hate what a waste.