Three people are dead, many more injured and white supremacy is at the forefront of public discussion after a weekend of racist-spurred violence in Charlottesville, Va. Members and allies of the HIV community are speaking out. Often, they are not only condemning these events, but calling for action against the Trump administration's ongoing rhetoric and policies that target people of color, immigrants and LGBTQ people.
In addition, our contributors and partner organizations shared both their reactions and important considerations for discussing the events and considering how to move forward in our families, communities, organizations and in the media:
From a statement by Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center:
We are chilled and heartbroken, though unfortunately not surprised, by the white supremacist violence taking place in Charlottesville. The hate driving these racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBT acts is deeply embedded in this country and in the ongoing attacks and violence against trans communities, particularly trans women of color.
Already in this year filled with violence and hate, we have lost at least 17 transgender people to murder -- the majority of them Black trans women. We cannot separate the deaths of our Black trans sisters from the violence on display in Charlottesville or from the broader attacks on trans communities, whether they come in the form of presidential tweets, immigration policy, or white supremacist rallies. Supporting the trans community means actively and vigorously opposing all of these acts of hate against us.
From a statement by Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign:
Hate and bigotry must never be met with silence or half-hearted rebukes. The horrific events unfolding in Charlottesville today are a stark reminder that the racism and white supremacy that has been allowed to fester for generations has recently been emboldened by the policies and rhetoric of politicians like Donald Trump. There are no two sides. Donald Trump's refusal to clearly condemn white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and the "alt-right" is a failure of leadership and once again proves he is unfit to serve.
From a statement by Jean Hodges, president of the PFLAG National board of directors:
We will not equivocate:
PFLAGers everywhere, LGBTQ and ally, denounce the actions of the hateful cowards who came to Charlottesville with the intent to demoralize and harm, and we align ourselves with all marginalized communities. The vile rhetoric may be loud, but our love is louder, and our numbers many times greater. We will unite in that love, and with our numbers, to stay strong and speak out loud against white supremacy, anti-semitism, and bigotry in all forms.
From a statement by Joshua Oaks of HIV Prevention Justice Alliance:
The white nationalist agenda is inherently violent towards communities of color and all things not white, male, cis-gendered, and hetero. As a community comprised largely of queer and trans, Black, brown and immigrant bodies, the HIV community must shift beyond mere "cultural sensitivity" and call out the violence of those who wish to destroy us. There is little difference between white nationalist violence and state-level violence enacted on our communities in the form of regressive, racist and transphobic policies.
From a statement by Stacey Long Simmons, Esq., director of the Advocacy and Action Department of the National LGBTQ Task Force:
The violence we are witnessing is horrifying, but is merely the latest manifestation of the growing racist, anti-immigration, anti-Semitic, sexist and anti-LGBTQ hate in our midst. The continuing escalation of hate and white nationalist sentiment we are experiencing during the Trump administration has come to this -- targeted violence in the streets of Virginia led by the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi organizations. The National LGBTQ Task Force will not stand by and watch the very fabric of this nation torn apart by hate. We will stand with our immigrant, Muslim, African-American, Latino, AAPI, disabled and all marginalized people targeted by the hate and discrimination coming from all directions, from the White House to the streets of Charlottesville.
From TheBody.com contributor Ted Kerr:
And so a question becomes: what do we do? I think there are many answers. Here are some:
- Check in with yourself. Be real: how are you feeling? Journal, talk to friends, dance, scream on subway platforms, garden. To quote J.Lo, do what you can to regularly, "Get Right."
- Check in with others: how are your people doing? Scared? Overwhelmed? "Violently Happy?" What can you all do together to face the world, and ensure you all survive and hopefully thrive? We do change the world, one block at a time. (also, some of you and your friends will be fine, and that can be okay.)
- Learn, question, share, repeat. (Also: relax, relate, release.)
- Do an inventory: what do you have that you can share: skills? money? emotional labour? space? Then figure out a way to share what you got in a sustainable way, long term. J.Lo was wrong when she said that "love don't cost a thing." It does, so be honest and generous with it, knowing that there is a price to living and we can share the costs together.
- Have uncomfortable conversations with friends, loved ones, and yourself. It is not easy, it is not fun. But it actually makes a difference, and gets easier the more you do it. Ensure you do it with love, responsibly, with the desire to help the world, not just be right. Also, sometimes these are small intimate conversations that include the phrase: "Babe, what is going on?" And they can include lines that begin with, "Listen, it is like Alanis said ..."
- Take action. Attend a community meeting, attend a rally, make different choices about how you spend your money and time considering how you can starve white supremacy.
- Share your ideas on how to be alive with me and others. No one has all the answers.
From an opinion piece by POZ contributing writer Shawn Decker:
All politics are local. Well, yes, they are. But when these folks show up in your hometown and claim they are there to hold the President to his promises to them, well, then all politics are global. When it takes two days for the President to actually disavow nazis -- it's maddening. Hiding and ignoring a problem like this visit doesn't work on the local level and, as Trump found out, it doesn't work on the global level either. My phone is lighting up now with whatever Trump's do-over statement is on nazis. I don't really care to read it as people continue to recover from the act of terrorism that killed one and maimed many more.
Charlottesville is not perfect -- not by any means. But it is my home. A lot of the fighters who arrived here for things I detest (white supremacy, hate) have gone. The community remains. Nothing is tarnished. If an event like this past weekend was going to happen somewhere, I'd rather it have happened here, a city whose magic has only been enhanced by the good I've seen over the last few days. Those acts are the norm around here.
Protesters marched on the White House on Aug. 13, 2017. Michael K. Lavers at The Washington Blade posted video of the action:
JD Davids is the director of partnerships and a senior editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow JD on Twitter: @JDAtTheBody.