TAKING SIDES


I read a piece, some weeks ago, on the half a million women that joined the newly established female-only branch of the KKK in the 1920s.

I initially read this through the lens of intersectional feminism; reaffirming the truth that it is not enough to simply be a feminist if you are not intersectional. These women that joined that branch were acting in a radical fashion and a majority would have considered themselves feminists. True feminism is intersectional in fashion- embracing and fighting for equality for women of all races.

Reflecting back, my focus is on the question the piece proposed: Who inherited their robes?

With half a million women rallying for hate and doing their part to uphold white supremacy, there's bound to be more than a few sets of robes passed down. Many of those women already had children, or went on to later have children. Whether or not they inherited actual white robes, these children likely heard their mother's beliefs that led them to join and fight for what they believed to be right. It's not unrealistic to assume that a good percentage of these children took on those beliefs as their own, potentially passing them down to their children years later, continuing a pernicious cycle.

Today we see white nationalists- mostly men- wielding torches as they march at the University of Virginia.

Unlike the members of the KKK a century ago, the men that gathered in Charlottseville did not don white robes, nor did they wear pointed hats to obscure their faces. They marched, uncloaked and uncovered, their faces as visible as their enmity.

But, very much like the women who marched before them, many of these men went home to families. Perhaps a wife waiting up. Children tucked into bed. Did they know where their father was?



These men will go to work on Monday- some teachers, engineers, doctors, lawyers. If you think that they will manage to slip into work as though their private life doesn't involve gathering to violently uphold vile ideologies, you would be wrong.

If you think that their toxic beliefs don't fester and seep into their professional life, that they're somehow able to keep their personal convictions from infiltrating every aspect of their lives, interfering with those members of their community they serve, and that they don't actively maintain oppressive, racist systems, you would be wrong.

Some believe that racism will die out with the older generation.

Let's be real- slavery only ended 150 years ago, but okay. Let's look at the reach of the "older generation."

Perhaps they didn't inherit the literal robes of their parents or grandparents, or maybe they did, but the men (and anyone else) that picked up their torches were influenced to an extent, either by example or environment, to become what they are today.

They aren't wearing literal robes to pass down, but they have a very real, very terrifying capacity to influence others- future generations- to think and act as they do.

The children waiting at home for them while they were out are watching, learning, and internalizing what they see and hear. They could very well reject the teachings of their parents, or they could continue the cycle, as has long been the case.

The white nationalists, or terrorists, as they're more appropriately called, are not, by any stretch of the imagination, new.

This most recent rally is not surprising.

It's sickening, and upsetting, but it's not surprising.

Equally unsurprising is the number of those who think they don't have to pick a side on issues concerning white supremacy and racism, and that vague, out of context MLK quotes will placate the outraged.

Newsflash: There's two sides to this. You don't get to not choose one.

This is not something to pacify. This is something to fight.

Choose the side you're on and then make it very clear to others where you stand.

Get out there physically, not just online, and demand justice.

Vocalize your concerns to government officials.

Stand up to every single act of hate.

Every single one.

Do not dismiss thinly veiled racism with, "Oh, they're from a different time." It was wrong then, and it's wrong now. Age does not grant a free pass to be a bigot, and well, we can see how well that "different time" translates.

Anything less conveys you are okay with what is happening.

Are you okay with it?

If you aren't, you need to take action.

Consider who you come home to.

Consider who is watching you and learning from you.

What beliefs and ideals will you pass down to them?

Your influence will go farther than you think. If you utilize it wisely, perhaps we won't be fighting the very same fights another hundred years from now.

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