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In the past couple of weeks, my hometown has been under a burning spotlight. After a mixed group of White supremacists, KKK members, neo-Nazis, armed militia and members of the alt-right movement decided to choose Charlottesville, Va. as their place to spread their hate, all eyes were on my town. These groups attacked the city that I love with bigotry, racism and discrimination. They caused the death of a beloved member of our community.
Heather Heyer was brave enough to stand up against this hatred and fight for the equality of the members of our community. She lost her life doing so when a Kentucky native purposefully crashed his car into a group of counter-protestors. Not only was my town bombarded by words of hate from these groups, but one of them committed an act of terrorism against members of our community.
Charlottesville does not stand with these people, we stand against them. I am not going to claim that Charlottesville does not struggle with issues of discrimination, racism and sexism because that would be a lie. Just like every other town or city in the United States, we have all of those problems. Charlottesville is not perfect by any means, but I can promise you that we are not a community that welcomes that kind of hate.
When issues like this arise, there is a community ready to fight those wars. When people with hatred in their hearts come to attack our town, an even stronger force of people is there to stand up against their hate. We fight for those who feel marginalized and those who need our support, and beyond anything else, we fight against inequality.
The aftermath of the protests that took place in Charlottesville on Aug. 12 can be felt all throughout the city that I love more than any other place. Now, we look to break through the hate that was brought to our community and combat it with the love we have for our town and the diversity within it. We pray for the person that we lost, and we rebuild the peace that we once had in our community. We continue to fight against the people and groups that attempt to bash our goals of inclusivity and diversity because that is truly what Charlottesville is all about.
Virginia’s state slogan is “Virginia is for lovers,” and that holds true in Charlottesville. Although we have been met with a lot of hate these past few weeks, it is nowhere near as powerful as the love our community will carry on with. I wish this had never happened in my town, but I am proud of the way my community fought and continues to fight against it. I am not ashamed of where I am from because of any of this. If anything, it makes my love for Charlottesville even greater.
Please do not write my town off as a place that harbors and encourages acts of violence, hate and racism. That is not my town. The town I know and love is filled with people like Heather Heyer. It is filled with people who are willing to stand up for others. My community is loving and inclusive. Above all, we are stronger than any hate group. I love my home, and I will always stand with Charlottesville.
By: Maddy Lancaster ~Copy Editor~