Right after White Supremacists from across the country, one of whom killed Heather Heyer, held a rally in Charlottesville.
Original Post Date: August 12, 2017
Okay fellow Wahoos (and fellow citizens), now would be a really good time to ACTIVELY recognize our University’s (and country’s) legacy, to learn from it, and build a brighter future. We are a strong and beautiful community that, much like the rest of our country, is built on the backs of slaves. Our founder is a brilliant, revolutionary thinker who fought for freedom… for some… he owned others. Thomas Jefferson is a complicated man – neither all good nor all bad, just like the rest of us. Some of the things in his past, and in our collective past and present, are truly horrific. We have oppressed and we continue to oppress many people – and we continue to benefit from that oppression. The very foundations of our country were built by a combination of unpaid (read: slave) hard labor and management (read: slave owners), translated in our history books as “pioneers,” “entrepreneurs,” and “forward thinkers.” Not everyone engaged in it, but basically every foundational institution that survives today has it in its roots.
So look, we can’t reasonably live in our society and completely disentangle ourselves from the past, but we CAN help. How? We can actively acknowledge it; we can acknowledge how it still impacts us all today; and we can work to stop that kind of thing from EVER happening again (Spoiler alert: its still happening – not just with racism but also with things like human trafficking, which happens INSIDE this country all the time… depressing post I know, but really, if we ever want it to stop we need to talk about it).
So today, right now, you can stand up. You can say: Yeah, my University and my country has a history of both racism and empowerment. These concepts are not mutually exclusive and they have co-existed since the beginning. And today I choose empowerment.