It is with a heavy heart, but a powerful sense of urgency, that we approach the first anniversary of the violence in Charlottesville. The hideous xenophobia and hate displayed on August 12, 2017, began in response to the proposed removal from a local park of a Confederate monument, a symbol of historic racism and oppression that primarily targeted enslaved African Americans. Klan members, neo-Nazis and “alt-right” agitators united to preserve and celebrate white supremacy, resulting in countless attacks and the death of Heather Heyer.
Members of the Greater Washington region’s philanthropic community continue to work collectively, through the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, toward an equitable future. This future relies on the dismantling of all forms of oppression. The tragic events of Charlottesville began in the spirit of anti-Blackness and became a rallying cry for anti-Semitism and other manifestations of hate against immigrants and the LGBTQ community.
On the occasion of the one-year anniversary of this horrific event, WRAG’s Racial Equity Working Group (REWG) is reminded of why it chose to conduct its work utilizing an anti-Black racism frame. This frame is not intended to alienate other oppressed communities, but rather, to address the foundational nature of anti-Blackness in the false hierarchy of human value that is now codified in our laws, neighborhood configurations, economic and social systems, and the ways in which power and resources are concentrated in our region and our nation. REWG believes that understanding and addressing anti-Black racism will help reveal solutions to eradicate the manifestation of all forms of bias, racism, and hate.
REWG calls on everyone targeted by those who seek to demonize Black people, other people of color, and all those marginalized and oppressed to stand shoulder to shoulder in our collective quest for equity and justice.