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Charlottesville protests disheartening reminder of hate in America

Zola Sullivan, freshman

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Dear Editors,

On Aug. 13th, 2017, I sat on the edge of my couch watching as CNN became a war zone. The events leading up to that night started a ticking time bomb: one that went off when James Alex Fields drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at 1:42 that afternoon, killing one and injuring 19.

A Donald Trump-led America seems to have given racists and white supremacists a safe platform to spew their words of hatred. The night before, hundreds of white supremacists and self-identified Nazis marched, torch in hand, on the UVA (University of Virginia) campus to kickoff the “Unite the Right” rally, an event set up in protest of the removal of confederate monuments. The next morning, protesters returned to the campus in riot gear, holding automatic weapons and spraying homemade mace in counter-protesters’ faces.

Shortly after the incident, Donald Trump took the stage in a press conference, claiming that “both sides” were to blame for the violent clashes. Many people have expressed their confusion about this so-called “both sides” that Trump was referring to. It was unsettling to find out that a man who didn’t hesitate to use the term “radical Islamic terrorists” during the San Bernardino incident was struggling to condemn Fields as a terrorist.

While many came to school the following Monday seeming particularly surprised, I wasn’t too shocked about what happened. The rise of Donald Trump has coincided with an increase of arrogant white nationalist groups and Neo-Nazis. According to CNN, the amount of hate groups in the United States shot up by 17 percent from 2014 to 2016. Recently, David Duke and many other infamous white supremacists have been thanking President Trump for supporting them and their views.

It’s troubling to know that I live in a country with over 900 hate groups, while simultaneously populated by more minorities than anyone else. Until the president finds an appropriate way to denounce these violent and heinous groups, our nation will continue to get a taste of what it’s like when you don’t denounce them early on.

As a student, it’s interesting to see how these events affect my peers and their emotions. The incident has sparked a lot of interesting conversation. Many are angry, others sad, but most are just disappointed. Disappointed that these things are still happening in this day and age, and even more disappointed that they may have to be on the front lines to fight it. It’s important that we as students  pay attention to the news and try to understand how our peers are personally affected.

Many don’t realize that as a minority in America, witnessing these acts of violence can make you hostile and afraid, afraid that you or a loved one could be the next person lying on the pavement watching your life flash before your eyes.

It’s important that The Southerner publishes more pieces on current events regarding the division of races in the U.S. in order to help students keep up with the news and understand it, find ways they can help on a local level and overall better the world they live in.

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Charlottesville protests disheartening reminder of hate in America