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  • Andrew Hsieh

How to help Charlottesville victims and fight white supremacists and neo-Nazis

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On the morning of Saturday, August 12, after a Friday night full of racist and anti-Semitic chanting, thousands of white supremacists and neo-Nazis gathered at McIntire Park in Charlottesville, Virginia. Meanwhile, counterprotesters gathered at St. Paul Episcopal Church, planning a peaceful protest.

But by 10:30am, violence had erupted at Emancipation Park, located between both meeting points. And at 11:06am, amid tear gas and pepper spray, a state of emergency was declared by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

That was just the beginning. At 1:45pm, 32-year-old counterprotestor Heather D. Heyer, a Charlottesville paralegal, was killed when a car drove into a group of counterprotesters, injuring several others. And Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates died in a helicopter accident when the helicopter fell and burst into flames.

By the end of the day, at least 34 people were injured in Charlottesville, President Trump issued a fence-hugging response condemning violence “on many sides and later doubled down on it. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke crowed about the protest, calling it the fulfillment of “the promise of Donald J. Trump.”

This sounds terrible!

It wasn’t victory for the white supremacists and neo-Nazis; far from it. While President Trump may have sided against the people of color protesting, other politicians from both the Democrat and Republican parties issued harsh responses singling out those hate groups, and peaceful solidarity protests organized across the country. White supremacy, which has been angling for mainstream recognition over the past few years, took another blow to legitimacy, and neo-Nazis, well, they’re not exactly well-loved.

Still, Heather D. Heyer was murdered by a neo-Nazi, and while that car was the only successful act of terrorism perpetrated by them this past Saturday, Heyer’s death was one more than anyone should have wanted.

I’m Asian American / Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander (AANHPI). What does Charlottesville mean for me?

These days, barely an hour goes by where some kind of news doesn’t hit right at the heart. So it might be easy to disassociate ourselves from the events in Charlottesville, because after all, you’ve got to take care of yourself. It might seem especially far away if you live in Austin or San Francisco, or even totally irrelevant if you’re in a space where white people are the minority.

But that’s the exact trap AANHPI like myself can fall into: letting ourselves believe that something like Charlottesville won’t hurt us, due to our proximity to whiteness. And the problem is already here: most Asian Americans don’t even think racism or police brutality is an issue. If that doesn’t drive the point home, an Asian man even marched alongside the White supremacists in Charlottesville.

Yet as recently as this past June, AANHPI were the victims of police brutality, with little to no reporting or discussion. Thirty-five years ago, Vincent Chin was murdered by White men angry about Japanese automobile imports. Seventy years ago, Japanese Americans were rounded up in concentration camps. Eighty years ago, Filipino Americans were banned from American dance clubs on pain of death. And two hundred years ago, Chinese Americans were hired to work on railroads, only to have their homes burned down.

So here’s the reality, as immortalized by Martin Niemöller. Asian Americans may have a “model minority” privilege in the eyes of White supremacists, but that very myth is just one of many ways White supremacy pits people of color agaist each other, by perpetuating a false hiearchy based on proximity to whiteness. When events like Charlottesville happen, or when ICE raids occur, it’s not just Black and Latinx Americans who are at risk: it’s all people of color. So just as Niemöller wrote, White supremacists and neo-Nazis may be coming for the Black and Latinx communities now … but they will come for AANHPI after.

Let’s pause the activism around media representation for now, because Charlottesville proves that recognition in White eyes is clearly ephemeral. Let’s talk about how AANHPI can support our Black and Latinx and other non-Asian POC, especially those on the ground still being terrorized by White supremacists. Even from hundreds of miles away, it’s still possible. AAMPLIFY’s here to tell you how.

1. Donate money

This sounds simple, and it is: when you donate money to folks or organizations that need it, you’re directly contributing to the cause. It’s a game of numbers: no matter how fringe white supremacists and neo-Nazis may seem, they’re not the ones whose funding is being frozen by the Trump administration. So if you’ve got an extra buck or two, consider donating to:

  • This GoFundMe set up by the Democratic Socialists of America, which will cover the medical expenses of everyone injured in the car attack, even if they’re not affiliated with the DSA.

  • A similar GoFundMe was set up by Unity Cville that will also go toward victims’ support funds.

  • A GoFundMe set up by the mother of a counterprotester hit in the car attack, who had to undergo surgery to repair a fractured pelvis and attach an external bar to her hips. She won’t be able to work for three months, so she could use the help.

  • A GoFundMe set up by another mother of another victim of the car attack, who sustained skull fractures among other injuries and was also sent to the hospital for recovery. Since she didn’t have health insurance, medical costs are probably exorbitant.

  • Dre Harris was brutally beaten by white supremacists in a parking lot outside the Charlottesville Police Station, and set up a GoFundMe to support his emergency room medical bills. He had a concussion, an ulnar fracture, and other injuries.

  • A GoFundMe was also set up for Heyer, but her family halted the donations after $224,975 was raised, sending donations to the above donation sites.

Looking for organizations to donate to? Check CharityNavigator first to see where funds go and if their strategies align with your own giving goals, but consider these organizations that work directly against racism in Virginia:

That’s just a sampling of the work done in Charlottesville. For more, Sara Benincasa has a great list.

2. Donate time

You can give money to any of the above organizations, but you can also give your time by volunteering for them. You can get involved in those organizations and more, such as:

  • The Charlottesville chapter of Black Lives Matter. You don’t even have to be in the area: check out your local BLM chapter and support the cause. Even if you’re not Black, it’s critical to stand in solidarity, prevent Black erasure, and affirm that yes, Black Lives Matter.

  • The Stop Hate Project, which was launched in March 2017 to combat the rising tide of hate crimes across the United States. The Stop Hate Project connects people in need to established legal and social services resources, so they can feel confident that their protests will be supported.

  • Connect to your local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, which has been fighting anti-Semitism since 1913. Plus, read through their website: they’ve got plenty of resources to get informed.

  • Join a local rally. On Facebook or Twitter, you can easily search for rallies near you that stand in solidarity with Charlottesville. Or if you’re feeling empowered, plan your own: there are plenty of folks waiting for one to show their support.

P.S.: If you do attend a counterprotest, don’t like or share any social media posts publicly. White supremacists and neo-Nazis are doxxing protesters, so try to stay as low-key as possible.

3. Donate your words

I get it: it’s tough to refute your friends and family if they spout hateful words or pure white supremacist and neo-Nazi nonsense. But even if it’s not our absolute responsibility to combat bigotry in all of its forms, especially if you’re a person of color who already does plenty of emotional labor on behalf of privileged groups, 1:1 communication is where learning begins.

Yes! Magazine has a great interview with Pramila Jayapal, founder of national immigration advocacy group OneAmerica, about how to do just that.

4. Call your local lawmakers

If you live in the United States, you’re a constituent of not only your senators and congressperson, but also your governor, mayor, city council and more. Even though it might seem like everyone is calling their representatives these days, don’t be part of the bystander effect: use AAMPLIFY’s guide to calling your representative and make sure your views are heard. Take a stand and condemn hate groups like the ones in Charlottesville, and make sure your representatives condemn them too.

For an even greater range of things you can do to support your fellow people of color, an extensive Google Doc is forming thanks to the contributions of hundreds. Check it out, share it, and remember: take action, but also take care of yourself-- so you can take care of others.

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