When a group of white supremacists made their way to my town earlier this year, I was heartbroken and terrified. It worries me that people who are so ignorant in their beliefs, and so outwardly hateful, are represented in such high numbers.
According to organizers of the rally, they chose us because of the number of citizens in our area who supported and voted for Donald Trump. They felt they would be received in open arms and add new members to their group. We felt they were coming in to make a mess of things.
The town was braced for a terrible showing of hate, ready with a line of brave law enforcement officers who weren’t sure if they would even see their families once the event was complete.
Praise the Lord, we were lucky.
The supremacists left our town, without a brawl, without causing the catastrophe we had planned for. They showed up and spilled their propaganda, but no one was there to slip in it.
There wasn’t a huge show of support for the cause. In fact, it was the opposite. There was a crowd of people showing them that our town prefers inclusion and love. They got the message that they weren’t welcome here.
But, today, people with that same hateful message made their way into a new town, your town of Charlottesville, Va., and this time, things didn’t go as well.
So, this is my apology. Coming from someone who has looked into the eyes of these hate-filled people, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that your town was overtaken by these people.
I’m sorry that your hardworking and brave law enforce officers aren’t safe in their homes, but are prepared for anything that may come at them during this awful time – and those are the lucky ones.
I’m sorry that hate is so rampant. I’m sorry that it takes only moments to spread and is able to engulf such a large mass of humans, while it takes love so long to spread that we still live in a world where people aren’t equal.
I’m sorry that groups like these exits; groups that can enter a town so freely, under the guise of free speech, to light those torches – both literal and figurative – which are used only to shine light on how far we still have to go.
I’m sorry to the kids who see what is happening and can’t understand it. But, as someone who will never understand it, I know where you’re coming from.
I’m sorry the idea that “racism is dead” has forced people to stop learning and stop teaching.
I’m sorry that this threat, once it left the enclosed hills of Pikeville, Ky., was still running strong enough to pour into the streets of Charlottesville, Va.
I’m sorry that any news coverage on this issue will be indistinguishable from news coverage about the same type of hate in the 1960s- aside from the fact that these white supremacists are using citronella tiki torches from Walmart.
I’m sorry that these people share my race, but can’t share my heart.
I’m sorry that my white male hands that have never known the true meaning of prejudice, or felt the true glare of hate, are the ones typing these words.
I’m sorry that so many people will see this act of terror and still say that racism doesn’t exist in 2017.
I’m sorry that I don’t know the answer.
I’m sorry that this hate exists.
I’m just sorry.
Hate isn’t a head thing; hate is a heart thing.
You can’t out-hate a hateful heart. And you can’t teach someone who is willingly ignorant. All we can do is keep moving forward, keep speaking up, and keep singing out.
Keep marching and keep praying. Maybe we’ll move so far ahead that we can leave these people behind.