I was on the ground in Charlottesville amidst the rally, supporting the local Showing Up for Racial Justice chapter. As I watched hundreds of young, white men stream past me, I thought, “We need to get to white people before they get to this point.”
At SURJ, we do not work to convince avowed white supremacists that their beliefs are wrong, but instead we focus on engaging white people in communities these groups are targeting — white people who are making sense of the world through changing economic and political conditions and could go either way. We offer ways for white people to make sense of our world and take action in deep solidarity with communities of color. This is necessary to fight the white nationalism on display six years ago and the fascistic politicians like Trump and DeSantis using their support to consolidate power today.
We must out-organize the right in majority white communities to prevent more Unite the Right Rallies or January 6’s from happening.
Erin Heaney is the Executive Director of Showing Up for Racial Justice.