When I headed into the ‘Unite the Right’ Rally in Washington, D.C., I was expecting a large, predominately white crowd emblazoned with Confederate flags, swastikas, and tiki torches. As I walked into the New Carrolton metro station, my heart pace quickened: not with fear, but with nervousness that I was going to encounter head-on the […]
When I headed into the ‘Unite the Right’ Rally in Washington, D.C., I was expecting a large, predominately white crowd emblazoned with Confederate flags, swastikas, and tiki torches.
As I walked into the New Carrolton metro station, my heart pace quickened: not with fear, but with nervousness that I was going to encounter head-on the menacingly hateful and racist ideologies of white supremacists for the first time.
Living in the diversely populated and mostly liberal county of Prince George’s, I was heavily protected from the realities that other minorities faced: the ignorance that fuels micro-aggressions, systematic oppression, and hate speech; the psychological and physical trauma that stems from being exposed to blatant racism; and the fear of my life, or a loved one’s life, being put at risk. But this metaphysical bubble that has coddled me was about to get popped— or at least, so I thought.
Many friends and family members were advising against me attending the rally. Tweets were flooding my Twitter timeline, informing the public of white nationalists marching on Pennsylvania Avenue towards the White House on Aug. 11 and 12, and for minorities to stay clear of the rally in the interest of their own safety.
However, the need to capture this experience on camera and face these right-wing extremist ideas directly outweighed any prior fears I had.
So, I holstered my editor’s camera strap onto my neck and headed into Washington, D.C.
What I found at the rally was the complete opposite of my expectations: counter-protester groups had vastly outnumbered the number of ‘Unite the Right’ supporters.
Instead of the streets being filled with racist, fascist propaganda, I was met with groups such as Black Lives Matter DC, United Against Hate, the Shut it Down D.C. Coalition and ANTIFA. I was able to see groups of all races, genders, sexual orientations, religions, and different demographics across the board.
But most of all, I saw groups that showed up regardless of fear. Regardless of risks to their safety and the protentional for violence, these counter-protestors showed up to have a hard stance against the bigotry of the white supremacists.
Regardless of the predicted hundreds that were expected to show up at the rally (even though only an estimate of two dozen showed up), hundreds more showed up to upstage the plans of the alt-right.
This is what will drive our nation towards a more progressive and accepting path: Being able to fight against our unjust system both directly and indirectly in a fearless manner. Hate, prejudice, and discrimination are only able to grow if they continue to go unconfronted and unchallenged. The systems of oppression will only continue to persist if we continue to have a muted voice. The state of our nation will only continue to decline if we allow for our own political inactiveness to dictate who our government leaders will be arbitrarily.
What this counter-protest stands for is the challenging of fear and opposition to complacency. This protest shows that hate can be driven out through an uncompromising sense of right and wrong and fighting relentlessly for the betterment of all people, and paving the way for a generation that is without bigotry.