Facing the reality of racism

Noor Naji, Opinion Editor

Racism is very much alive and well, and the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia was just another reminder of how race relations in the U.S. still have a long way to go.

It was only a few weeks ago when Nazi protesters marched in Charlottesville, carrying Confederate flags and swastikas, only to be confronted with anti-racist protestors. Violence erupted quickly when a car drove into the crowd, killing a civil rights activist.

This shook the nation to its core. Many had thought that overt white supremacy and Nazism was a mere figment of our history.

However, for minorities, it’s a different story. There was no surprise. The daily dose of discrimination is a reminder of the systemic oppression of certain groups of people. It was never really gone in our eyes; it was always there, hiding, but nevertheless, present. After headlines of the march, it seems like the rest of America has just begun to catch up.

This might come as a surprise for some, but President Obama did not end racism. What’s been building up for generations and has been in our books since the beginning of our history did not suddenly vanish when the country elected a black president.

Journalist Mary Dejevsky, writing for The Guardian, put the situation in perspective.

“The progress of civil rights and the election of Barack Obama have perhaps obscured the extent to which race remains a running sore in the U.S. and how far the Civil War remains unresolved in parts of the south.”

The shock doesn’t end there. Forty eight hours after the incident, President Trump blamed “both sides” for the violence, and even claimed that there were “fine people” on both sides of the protest. Yes, the commander-in-chief actually sided with Nazis, and even claimed that some might be good people.

This is proof that we can no longer seek guidance from our so-called leaders. Americans will have to face racism on their own. Not just in marches, protest and other events, but in ordinary daily situations, we must also stand up to oppression. It is frustrating and quite difficult to sit down and contemplate how our history and past still continues to affect us today–more than we have previously thought. But we should use the tragedies like the one in Charlottesville as a reason to finally discuss race issues in the U.S.

As cliche as it sounds, a conversation needs to take place. While it is foolish to place such importance on a “conversation,” a genuine discussion across the nation can lead to action in the future.

When  people start voicing their concerns and discuss them on a deeper level than we do today, understanding, compassion and tolerance will mitigate and hopefully, replace racial violence. It will take time, but since the rest of America seems to finally grasp that racism and white supremacy is still alive, now is the time for that conversation.