Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. - Elie Wiesel
This weekend, violence erupted in Charlottesville, VA. Hundreds of organized white supremacists gathered to terrorize the city, murdering one woman and injuring 19 others. It’s unlikely that this news has managed to escape your timelines, your Twitter feeds, and push notifications - but for a chilling inside look into the weekend, this play by play by VICE News is worth a watch.
When domestic terrorists filled with hatred and violence threaten this country’s citizens, how do we as media makers respond? Do we simply go into the office and move forward with our daily tasks? Do we cry behind a computer screen but then head to happy hour with friends?
Or do we, embracing our privilege, diligently work to level the playing field and create media that ignites change?
The president may have chosen to be impartial on the issue, but as media creators, we cannot be. Not when Heather Heyer was murdered. Not when Marcus Martin has a broken leg. Not when Deandre Harris was beaten violently with a pole. Silence, avoidance and ambivalence cannot be options for media makers dedicated to social impact.
We must challenge ourselves to be proactive against hate and ignorance and commit to actions that combat inequality.
We have a responsibility -- as filmmakers and digital media creators -- to fill the gaps. To make often inaccessible or under appreciated narratives available to all. But in order to do that, we must also hold ourselves accountable.
White supremacy did not begin in Charlottesville, VA. It does not only manifest in rural communities in the South. It begins in our homes. In our homogenous communities. In the lack of diversity in our workspaces. It begins when we focus more on equality than equity.
White supremacists are fighting to maintain the privileges historically given to white Americans, that allow access to spaces and resources oppressed communities fight twice as hard to experience.
How are YOU, your company, your brand, or your media tangibly denouncing the benefit of that privilege?
Yes, the audacity of ignorance is undeniably painful. But the power of silence is equally complicit in perpetuating the problem. Now is not the time to be bipartisan on issues of hatred. Now is not the time to tweet why #thisisnotus.
This is the time to reevaluate how many people of color are in our production meetings. What impact does the stories we produce have on the current state of our country? How have we extended ourselves beyond the hamster wheel of production work to make this industry more accessible to all marginalized communities?
Let's not be silent in the face of this issue. Instead, let's use our creative excellence to build strong communities and come forth with solutions.
Interested in learning more but don't know where to start? Here’s a great compilation of things to do and read from Teen Vogue!
Things to Do:
Consider attending Chicago's demonstration at Federal Plaza, today at 5PM.
Talk to your friends and family about these issues - and more importantly, your colleagues!
Things to Read:
“Charlottesville and the Effort to Downplay Racism in America” by Jia Tolentino
“When Does a Fringe Movement Stop Being Fringe?” by Vann R. Newkirk II
“Charlottesville Is the America That Donald Trump Promised” by Jay Willi