Jessie Atkin
author, procrastinator, nerd, twin
author of We Are Savages

Jessie Atkin

Blog

The Silence of Small Things

Posted by Jessie on August 14, 2017 at 12:45 AM

When I was in high school I had a teacher who told me that the swastika was not a symbol I should find upsetting. When my sister was in middle school a boy drew a swastika on her notebook and the principal said that the boy didn't mean anything by it and it was only a mistake. I had a friend who in eighth grade hosted a Black History Month speaker and lunch at school and was given nothing but grief from the administration for her hard work and contributions.


Yesterday we saw men, as well as women, with no hoods, no masks, no fear to hide their faces behind attack both a community and individuals. They killed one young woman.


The news, and social media tells us that this is new. That we now live in a country where Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, Racists, and many more don't have to hide their faces. Where racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism, homophobia, and everything else can be expressed openly, can be accepted, can go without punishment. (As we saw yesterday, it was only those who stood up to this evil that did not make it home alive).


I agree. Those images from Charlottesville, VA are new, are terrifying. But I'd also like to say that while their numbers, their mass expression is most certainly new (to me, who was not alive during WWII or the Civil Rights Movement), I did grow up in a world where on the small everyday scale I knew people who also saw no need to hide their faces.


The alt right says they are fighting against a culture of political correctness. That it has harmed them, and their self-expression, their free speech in some way. I counter that it is I, and my family, and my friends, and so many others across the country that have suffered under political correctness. Because we were told not to be outraged, not to file claims, not to give names to those who minimized both our suffering and our experiences. And perhaps, if I had stood up, been noisier, more vocal, and more truthful I could have started a change that would have made a difference today.


So, while I have been to rallies, and marches, and called my congressional representatives since all of this began in January I now pledge to do one more thing differently. I pledge, that when something happens, to me, to someone I know, despite the size of the action, or the community in which it takes place, despite all those who tell me to keep it quiet because, really, who will it help to draw more attention to the situation? I pledge to say something. I pledge to tell anyone who will hear me what happened, how, and where. Because my experience, like so many others, did not deserve to be minimized to begin with. Because in a world where no one is afraid to show his face anymore, why should I be charged with protecting anyone who has, for so long, had no interest in protecting me?

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