“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, however, if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” – Maya Angelou
At the most recent Presidential debate, Donald Trump refused to condemn white supremacy. Again. (As you may remember, in 2017 there were “very fine” people who brought terror into Charlottesville.)
As his comments to the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” become a rallying cry, it’s easy to see how groups like these feel emboldened by the general rhetoric of the last few years, as white-nationalist organizations expanded their reach and infiltrated the mainstream.
The sundown towns of Illinois are not so long ago, and we have living elders on both sides of that experience. Today’s hate groups might not look or talk like the KKK in history books, but the online recruitment and mobilization of groups like the Proud Boys, Identity Evropa, and Patriot Front is no less violent, and they are in our communities. Two have distributed fliers on the Illinois campus and others have distributed anti-immigrant flyers.
Hate groups thrive on fear, which they leverage for recruitment of white people and use to intimidate Black, Muslim, Hispanic, queer, and other targeted groups. The coming general election is being used for this purpose, and the justice department and FBI are preparing for possibility of election day violence and voting disruptions.
In the face of targeted and organized hate, it’s normal, and their goal, that you feel intimidated and paralyzed. Action is the best antidote to fear and despair. Learn to spot extremism, and talk to your family members about what they’re seeing online. Take up one of the calls to action, below.
Most importantly, be vocal and pro-active. Call white supremacy what it is. Remember: you are not alone: seek out the collective action that is already happening. Community solidarity is the greatest preventative measure against white nationalism.
- Participate in #whatmatters2020 to rally Black Lives Matter supporters and allies to the polls in the 2020 U.S election.
- Serve as an Election Defender or volunteer to help them. These volunteers are core leaders in local areas that will be the heartbeat of the Movement for Black Lives and SURJ campaigns to defend the right to vote, and the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.
- Provide voter support and make a plan yourself.
- MTD is offering free rides on election day. Spread the word and/or offer to give rides to friends and neighbors.
- Make a plan to vote in Champaign County. Call a friend and help them do the same.
- Get and share answers to your questions about voting from Smile Politely and the New York Times
- Donate to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Their work spans far from outside the Deep South.
- Write a letter to the editor in The News-Gazette about this or another racial justice issue.
Note: See more events on our Racial justice calendar
Show up this week
Oct 8th, 4:30 p.m., online
Oct 8th, 5 to 8 p.m.
Oct 9th, 1 p.m., online
Oct 10th, 12 to 3:30 p.m.
Oct 22nd, 1 to 2 p.m.
Tuesdays and Thursdays
Please send any events to [email protected]
- Read: “Being Black in America” from Rev. Andre Crittenden, senior pastor at Urbana’s Rest-Oration Church.
- Read: State Senate panel looks at land use, gentrification, effects of redlining.
- Read: “The Problem is White Supremacy” by Barbara Smith
- Read: The Characteristics of White Supremacy
- Listen: “Sounds Like Hate” podcast from the Southern Poverty Law Center
- Watch: ‘Rednecks for Black Lives’ Rallies White Southerners for Racial Justice
- Plan: see this sample calendar of how to make anti-racist education a daily habit
- Follow: Conscious Kid on Instagram
- Read: They’re Not Too Young to Talk about Race from The Children’s Community School
- Art: Generation Vote’s “A Virtual Art Contest For Black Lives”
- A look back at “5 Empowering Artworks (and Exhibitions) Made During the Civil Rights Movement”
Send art/poetry/music submissions to: [email protected]
We also encourage you to:
- Join the CU-SURJ newsletter
- Follow CU-SURJ on Facebook
- Post events and resources, including when you’re taking action on our Community FB Page so others can be inspired and join you.
Top photo from Patriot Front’s tweet (a Twitter account that has now been suspended).