Hate on display in Charlottesville


There’s no moral equivalence between the anti-fascists and the alt-right. There are people who saw this event for what it was, and there are people who want to lie to themselves.

What happen in Charlottesville, Virginia last week is not so farfetched in today’s political reality, seeing as how 45 has opened the door for white nationalists, the alt-right and other racists who support him. These groups are inside a warm pot, and at some point it was going to boil over. Days after, it was comforting to see the backlash they received, not only from activists who were present in their opposition, but also with the tearing down of confederate statues that followed, and the business community not playing along with 45’s moral equivalence between anti-fascists and the alt-right.

It was shocking to watch these hate groups in full display, not afraid of any repercussions for their actions. On Friday night, they went out with tiki torches chanting awful slogans. I checked twitter in the early hours of Saturday morning, and I was met with an onslaught of images: white men marching with torches, like it was the 1800s, except some were wearing white polo shirts and khaki pants. This was a poor attempt at conveying a clean, new look for the alt-right, neo-nazis of America, but they were clearly not fooling anyone with “their toned down” approach of “we’re fighting for our heritage.” The day brought out other hate groups that carried with them confederate and nazi flags, some sporting military outfits and guns. They went so far as to run over a group of protesters on the anti-fascist side, injuring many and killing a lady, who was white herself.

For anyone who was waiting for 45 to do the honorable thing and fully condemn these hate groups, has obviously not been awake for the last couples of months, or for the duration of the media’s obsession with 45. Stop waiting for a pivot. Sure, he can read teleprompters and pretend to be civil and cognizant of the facts, but those are not his words, as we saw the day he went off-script, and said there were some good people in the alt-right, neo-nazi side, and that they were there to oppose the removal of confederate statues. 45 has always been a racist; his actions and words reveal that. He’s too old and senile to change, so stop waiting.

The conversation needs to move to why young white men are adopting this radical ideology, some who are college-educated and seemingly well-off. People can try to use the economic argument, but there is a new crop of racists pretending they are fighting for white america and their “heritage,” since they believe they’re being replaced by minorities, but this stems from a belief that the white race is a superior one. I imagine these young men (I noticed from the photos many of them appeared to be in their 20s to 30s) gather in clandestine forums, posting hate speech and fake news, instilling a twisted reality on their consciousness. One that politicians are glad to use to their advantage, and ironically for the ruin of white-america. They are trying to take back America. I’m not sure from who? Since they have ancestors who immigrated to this country. They don’t own America. If anyone should claim ownership, it’s the Native Americans.

The online world has become the place for ego-driven fake news. hate speech, bots and trolls. For anyone willing to suspend their rationality to adopt a supremacist ideology, it’s not difficult to find people who will agree with you. Before fake news, there was, and still is, Fox news, which 45 watches religiously and often repeats verbatim. It’s like a cycle that keeps repeating itself. When your “president” is relaying back conspiracy filled statements, it’s no surprise people don’t believe trusted news sources.  He doesn’t hide his favoritism for these alt-right groups, since they’re part of his base. They want nothing more than to see him deport immigrants and undermine our civil rights.

Another point of confusion for me, is why anyone would want to claim the confederacy as part of their heritage, and defend it as if it was righteous and moral? Anyone espousing these beliefs clearly doesn’t have qualms about the fact that the confederates were fighting to keep slavery; they were willing to split up the country because they wanted an entire race to be enslaved.  Some of the descendants of confederate generals themselves have called for the statues to be taken down. The great-great grandson of Stonewall Jackson ( a man who believed god wanted slavery to continue) expressed their moral dilemma when it came to their heritage, as something that has evolved.  They acknowledge their ancestor and the history, knowing that his statues no longer have a place in today’s society.The great-great grandson called the statues “overt symbols of racism and white supremacy.” Many of the confederate statues were installed during reconstruction, as if to remind African-Americans, who were living in the south, of those who were against abolishing slavery. These symbols call out to an ideology that is offensive specially for black communities.

Though these statues are symbols of oppression, people should use the proper channels to bring them down. The communities involved should decide what happens to those statues and build consensus. As it occurred in New Orleans when the council members voted to take them down. The pressure should come from grassroots movements that influence elected officials to remove them from the community. It’s important for people to have a conversation as to why it should be removed.  Following those channels of actions will make people more likely to agree with the removal instead of doing it by force.

The hate groups made their presence known in Charlottesville, not just to express their anger over the removal of confederate statues, as 45 will have you know, but also because they wanted to show that all these groups are united. They’re not just some random group of people on reddit or 4chan, ranting about “white heritage” So for anyone saying that anti-fascists or others who are part of the resistance should not show up, in order to prevent a violent interaction, know that they were there to voice their opposition. It sends a message to fascist, racists that we have the numbers to back up the resistance, and that the majority of the country agrees with us when we say we want to protect minorities like Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and Jewish communities.

This is the time to speak out and protest against these hateful groups. But we can’t stoop to their level by committing violent acts ourselves, because then we are no better than they are, if we do not let out words and action come from a place of peace and conviction, and not force.



Adiche’s tale of a Nigerian Blogger in America

Race, love, and identity.

Richelle Gribble - Web of life
Richelle Gribble – Web of life

There are no more words left from Chimanmanda Ngozi Adichie‘s Novel, Americanah (2013). No more chapters to read over languorous afternoons as palm trees sway under the rain or as the sun falls devilishly outside while I hide indoors.

Americanah is the kind of novel you read incrementally, so as to delay the inevitable end. But the subtle suspense of what’s to become of Ifemelu in America or what will happen to her abandoned love in Nigeria makes it impossible to ignore.

Adiche’s style and tone of writing is inviting and fresh, giving the novel space and depth to explore. The author of Half of a Yellow Sun, has an honest way of describing her characters, adding lucid dialogue that paints a clear portrait of who they are. There’s a sense of pride hovering above Ifemelu, as she listens to conversations from her circle of friends, not talking much, but trying to internalize more so than babble.

After Ifemelu’s studies are compromised by a government protest in Nigeria, she moves to the U.S. to find work and go back to school. She lives with her aunt and son then on her own, finding odd jobs and help from an American employer and Curt, a wealthy boyfriend who helps her acquire a green card.

Ifemelu has always been observant and curious; even as a young girl she was actively questioning the motives of her peers, sometimes being silent, other times bluntly asking questions that made people sit in their thoughts, and understand themselves a little bit more. Living in the U.S., she notices the racial and cultural divides that don’t exist in Nigeria. These reflections she later shares in her blog:

Raceteenth or Various Observations about American Blacks by a Non-American Black, which adds to the complexity of the novel’s themes: race, love, and identify.

She writes: “Dear Non-American Black, when you make the decision to come to America, you become black. Stop arguing. Stop saying I’m Jamaican or I’m Ghanaian. America doesn’t care. So what if you weren’t “black” in you country?”Immigrants face many contradictions when assimilating into an American culture that actively defines them. Ifemulu’s wants to explore how Africans identify themselves among black Americans in a country divided by race.

Though Curt provides her with many comforts, she doesn’t “believe herself” when she’s with him. Ifemulu goes on to sabotage the relationship, perhaps accidently, but as a way to keep her intellectual integrity that Curt, as a white-American male isn’t always able to understand. Seeing that Curt’s mom is unhappy and the looks she receives from white women, allow Ifemelu to witness the many ways racism touches everyday life.

Image: Cynthia Via
Image: Cynthia Via

On a personal level, I identify with the feeling of alienation as an immigrant, as an outsider, an observer more so than someone attached to the collective thought of a nation. Ifemelu brings a refreshing voice to depict American culture with its obsession for dividing people by political ideology, race and class. Her romantic relationships are vivid and remind me of my own, and how invested one can become when sharing your likeness with another person, eventually invading their space, adopting their habits or mannerisms.

Most of Americanah is set against the backdrop of a post 9/11 world, where cellphones are ubiquitous. Characters communicate through emails or by posting messages on blogs. In the course of the novel, we are treated to some emails between her and Obinze, a Nigerian man she loves but can never reunite with. Obinze also leaves his homeland for London, which is short-lived since he’s deported. When he returns to Nigeria he is forced to grow up and forget Ifemelu. Eventually he has to find the courage to claim what he wants and leave a life that betrays him profoundly. The novel delves into Obinze’s thoughts, and readers will undoubtedly feel closer to his character, than Ifemulu’s other romantic interests. A scene from the day Ifemelu and Obinze met:

The trust so sudden and yet so complete, and the intimacy, frightened her. They had known nothing of each other only hours ago, and yet, there had been a knowledge shared between them in those moments before they danced, and now she could think only of all the things she yet wanted to tell him, wanted to do with him.

As an adult, Ifemulu is confident and often times thinks highly of herself. After she returns to Lagos, Nigeria from studying in Princeton, she looks down at those working meaningless jobs. But she does acknowledges how judgmental she has become, criticizing everything about Nigeria like some of her friends who returned to mock what doesn’t meet their new American standards. She notices her faults and how unfair she has become with the Nigerian friends that never left.

In The Danger of a Single Narrative, a TED Talk video, Adiche mentioned the many ways storytellers are amplifying the African narrative. While the media may only concentrate on sensational narratives recounting tales of poverty, crime and war, there are also stories of progress, middle-class Africans, and young people with their own complexities. In the video, she asks readers to search for the stories that change the narrative. This bring to mind the question of who can define you? The community of your childhood, the one you’ve adopted or the cultural and racial divisions created by society? Ideally it should fall on the individual to discover who they are through a conscientious search for truth and genuine understanding.