Following the terrifying and tragic display of white supremacy at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville, earlier this month, many people and organizations across the nation pledged their solidarity with UVA and anyone affected by this tragedy.
This event struck a chord with many Americans, showing us all the reality of white supremacy, fascism, neo-Nazism and the remaining power of the Klu Klux Klan. It shed light on the viewpoints and hate that have been a part of our country for centuries.
President Leo M. Lambert addressed the Elon community Aug 14 following the violence in Charlottesville in a statement.
“First and foremost, we must say in clear language: there is no place on our college campuses, in our communities or in American society for white supremacy, racism, neo-Nazism, fascism or the wretched legacy of the Klu Klux Klan," Lambert said in his statement. "In the face of such evil, our community chooses to drive out ignorance with education, hope, inclusion and respect.”
Lambert is right – these atrocities should not be on our or any other college campus. It is important to show our support, but we can, and should, be doing more.
UVA is less than 150 miles from Elon University. There are more than 95 monuments honoring the confederacy in North Carolina, according to state records. And according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 31 hate groups in our state.
Elon is not much different than UVA. The same events could have and still can happen here and many instances of racism already have.
There are likely many people in the surrounding area of our community, and in our community itself, who hold these beliefs which target and endanger minorities on our campus. Just because there are no people storming our campus with lit torches doesn’t mean those ideas aren’t present here. Elon needs to be prepared for events like those in Charlottesville to happen here.
We need to go beyond words of solidarity and move toward actions of resistance. It is not enough to say that we will not allow these ideologies to thrive on our campus, we must prove it.
This responsibility lies just as much with our students as it does with our administration. The university and many student organizations have already put in place ways for students to stand against racism, but our students need to take advantage of them. To do this, students can attend town halls hosted by SGA, speakers and events hosted by the CREDE, meetings with the Black Student Union and more. Outside our campus, students can engage by attending meetings of the Alamance County chapter of the NAACP. These meetings are typically filled with mostly people of color, but it is important for all people to engage in conversations and listen to different perspectives.
Elon's administration should also continue to make diversity and inclusion efforts a priority. We also should have a plan in place to protect our students in case anything like this were to ever happen on our campus.
It’s easy to stand in solidarity with Charlottesville. It's easy to share articles on social media or to post about your remorse for the victims. But, if there are no actions behind your words, change will not occur.
Have conversations with your friends who may hold different beliefs than you. Shop at minority owned businesses. Question microaggressions. We all can be doing more.