By Jenna Gibson
The first time I ever saw the film Get Out, I immediately noted the obvious nods throughout the film to racism and white supremacy. The film centers around an interracial couple—a white woman named Rose and a black man named Chris—who go visit Rose’s family, and from there unsettling disturbances (to put it lightly) continue to occur to Chris. As the movie unfolds, it becomes evident that the horror movie spin on the film is meant to make viewers recognize white nationalism and discrimination, not only in the movie but in everyday life as well. Only black characters are hypnotized and affected by the events that occur in the film, and the white family is the one controlling those characters. I watched Get Out again recently, and it made me immediately think about what happened in Charlottesville this past weekend.
As reported by CNN, on August 11 white supremacists surrounded a group of protesters with torches during a rally that was held on the University of Virginia’s campus in opposition of the destruction of the Thomas Jefferson statue. The next day, on August 12, tragedy struck in Charlottesville, Va; a white nationalist rally was met with protesters, ultimately ending with the death of one protester and two state troopers. It’s safe to say that last weekend was both a political and emotional rollercoaster. President Trump’s statements on Saturday following the event make the prior sentence even more impactful. He didn’t mention the word Neo-Nazism, nor did he mention white supremacy. The sad part is, however, that I am not in the least surprised by Trump’s reaction to this horrible event. He blamed “both sides” for such violence, which in my opinion was not a reasonable answer. There’s one side that is much worse than the other, and that would be the side of the white extremists. Nazis and white supremacists are the only “side” we need to worry about, not what Trump considers the other side–the counter-protesters who are simply fighting for what they believe in and standing up for what’s right.
With all the heartbreak and calamity that has ensued since Trump’s election, last weekend’s rallies have instilled in me even more fear than before—for my future, for my friends’ future, for our country’s future. I know that I don’t even know the half of it, since I am a middle-class white girl, but racism and intolerance have no place in this world. Barack Obama’s response summed it up best when he quoted Nelson Mandela: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.” People are bound to have opposing opinions and beliefs, but that in no way means that they have the right to hate one another. Horrific events like Charlottesville makes it even more obvious that white supremacy still exists. I know that racism is still very prevalent, but this extreme hatred shown by the white nationalists made me see just how bad of a state our country is right now.
Much like the rest of America—and probably the world—I’m tired of this constant onslaught of hatred that we have come to know. What’s even more depressing is I’ve gotten used to it. The devastation that occurred last weekend startled me, but I’m sad to say that I was not as surprised as I should have been that it happened at all. So much hate is stirring in our society today. And although I was flabbergasted to see that people could still be so cruel, I wasn’t surprised that it was due to white nationalists. My initial thought was that we are rewinding as a country, going back to times of inequality, but then I realized America has been struggling with racism constantly throughout history. It’s not an idea of the past, and when events like Charlottesville occur, then it makes racism in our country even more palpable. Many white people have not come to terms with examining the hate and superiority that needs to be discussed. Nothing can change if there are still people with the same mindset as the people who thought segregation and discrimination were okay.
A lot of people are still racist. A lot of people are still supremacist. But a lot of people are also still progressivist, meaning that they believe that change and progress are essential to one’s life and education. There is no place for hate in our world today, and I think that it’s up to us as individuals to speak out for what’s right. Everyone deserves to be treated equally, and fairly, and nicely; no one should have to wake up every day fearing what could happen next because they are a target. And I don’t know how to singlehandedly fix this issue, nor do I have a definite solution, but I know that as an individual I can stand up for what I believe in. I know I can try.