Charlottesville, White Supremacy, and the Action We Must Take

I’m hitting “publish” on this later than I intended to. I have been writing, reading, and rewriting this post over the past week before finally letting go of “getting the words right” and instead letting them flow, unfiltered, from my heart.

After the horror that unfolded in Charlottesville, I’m reminded of the lesson I learn over and over:

It’s OUR responsibility to create the healing, change, and progress we claim we want.

Our responsibility. Our duty. Our moral obligation.

As women (and I’m speaking more specifically to white women), as business owners, and as brands with our own platforms — we owe it to our communities, our tribes, our clients and customers, and the planet to step forward, speak up, and take action and contribute in a way that is meaningful during these tumultuous times.

I’ve been contemplating what meaningful contribution looks like as I’ve been seeing many posts and emails from my peers, leaders, and brands in our industry that have left me thinking, “What. the. actual. fuck?”

For example, emails I’ve received mentioning Charlottesville (briefly) and a link to the person’s blog post or video about being loving, carving out more time for joy and rest, how-to advice, or a “helpful interview.” Yes, I’m being serious. #notappropriate

Or an author expressing sadness at what’s happening and recommending her book and event with multiple links to purchase. #notappropriate

Don’t even get me started on social media comments and threads. I’ve seen everything from, “Well let me tell you about my upbringing, in which I did not live a privileged life even though I’m white…” to “I didn’t create this and I’m angry I get blamed for it.” #icantbelievethisshit

If you’ve done any of the things I mentioned above, take note so you can do better next time rather than be defensive. I’ve seen a lot of defensiveness and that isn’t helpful.

(I acknowledge there have been some amazing discussions too, discussions that we need to be having.)

The truth is, I’m still learning and making mistakes too.

For a long time I thought it was better to take action offline and quite honestly, I looked at online conversations as a waste of time when I could be doing something. That was wrong and I see that both are valuable.

Being Canadian, it was also easy to look at this as an issue for Americans to figure out. I’m sorry for not using my online platform to speak out when I had something to say and contribute.

So yes, over the last week I have been navigating what meaningful contribution looks like, but one thing’s for sure: I’m quickly feeling what it’s not.

It’s not spouting empty words that do nothing to move the conversation forward.

It’s not calling for love and light, but then defending your privilege.

It’s not saying you want to change the world, but then staying silent after witnessing injustice.

Meaningful contribution starts with listening, but doesn’t end there.

We must listen to our sisters and brothers who are targets of white supremacy and racism in order to learn how to better ourselves.

After we’ve listened, we can’t just hide behind our computers hoping someone else will take care of hate in the world. That moment passed a long time ago, and as activist L’Erin Alta powerfully states in this post on her Instagram: Silence will not make us safer.

And simple outrage on social media and our websites is not enough. Action is what counts.

I hear countless entrepreneurs say, “I’m here to serve” all. the. time.

I want to ask you this: Are you really here to be of service or is that lip service?

If you want to make an impact on the world with our work and our brilliance, how specifically are you taking action to make an impact?

Other words and phrases I hear more and more: I am a queen/goddess/light. Embrace your inner queen. Tune into your inner goddess. Change the world.

We need goddesses, queens, and warriors more than ever. You don’t embody the goddess by putting on a long, flowing dress and flower crown.

Many of the queens and goddesses I invoke and celebrate are fierce, strong, powerful. They wield swords and fight for love and truth and justice. Durga, Nzinga, Boudica, Kali. Look ‘em up. Let their stories seep into your bones.

And while we’re on the topic, it’s worth bringing to your attention the white-washing of goddesses today. That’s just another example of white supremacy.

Each of us has a role to play in this, and each of us must go beyond social media posts and find our way to step into it. I know many people just don’t know how to take action and make a difference. I assure you, you can, and the rest of this post is dedicated to helping you do just that.

Ericka Hines (follow her as she shares so many resources for staying informed!) has compiled an ever-expanding, incredibly useful list of action steps you can take to combat racism and hate. The complete list can be found behind this link. While I’d love to include it all, I’m sharing some of the most instantly actionable items below, the things you can do today no matter where you are.

Here are 5 steps you can take right now to start playing your part, and make a powerful difference on the planet.

1. Use Your Voice

  • Speak out against white supremacist marches. ACT for America is planning a nationwide series of at least 50 rallies on September 9th. Get more information here.
  • “Post on social media that you are anti-white supremacy and that you denounce white supremacists. Do the same in your actual not-online interactions (even more important).”
  • “Talk to your racist parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins about why their racism affects you, others, and people you care about. Help them fix their racism. It’s your job. (See list of articles/pieces at the end of the full document)”

2) Attend a Charlottesville Solidarity rally in your town

The complete list is here. Details about solitary actions you can take to combat racism are also included in that article.

3) Donate money to…

Charlottesville-based anti-racist organizations:

Medical funds of folks who were injured by Nazis and Alt-Right protesters:

Political candidates:

4) Prioritize educating yourself

  • Find your local NAACP chapter at NAACP is a multi-racial organization working to eliminate race-based discrimination.
  • Look into POWER, an initiative focused on educating and empowering those involved, or wish to be involved, in anti-racist movements and organizations.
  • People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond is a New Orleans based organization providing quality anti-racist training to understand what racism is, where it comes from, how it functions, why it persists and how it can be undone. They hold workshops all over the US.

5) Get out and march, and call your elected officials

Righteous Resistance is keeping an open-source platform of events going on and actions that you can take.

I challenge you to complete at least one of these actionables today — but the most important thing to keep in mind is that we must push, donate, raise our voices, and create the change we wish to see.


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9 thoughts on “Charlottesville, White Supremacy, and the Action We Must Take

  1. Sorry Natalie,
    I hear too many people today speaking just like you. You mean well but every talk about the “isms” in our society further promotes division. We need to start talking about what are the values of an American/ Canadian / citizen of the world and stop dividing us into compartments. Yes, history shows us we did lots of things wrong. It happened. Let’s learn from it and go forward. In the USA we should be one nation – the melting pot of many mixtures of peoples – that all come together with a common belief in freedoms outlined in our Constitution. ANY ONE trying to divide us or take those freedoms away should be condemned and too often that’s what the government and many people try to do. I would bet that every one of us has childhood hurts that traumatized us then and still do today. One is not more important than another. All are pains we have to live with. So often the simple act of a hug will heal so much that hurts. Off my soap box – but that’s one of the freedoms I love most about this country – that we all can have an opinion and be heard. Thank you, Natalie, for bringing the topic up – and for having the courage to allow comments which so many others are preventing. I’m sure I’ve stepped on toes – but mine have been stepped on also.

    1. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I strongly believe that talking about the very things that divide us do not cause more division. It’s the silence, the ignoring, the underestimating and the inaction around real change that cause the problems. Does talking about cancer and the terrible impact it has on people and their families create more cancer? No. It brings more awareness to an issue and it also sends a message to the people affected by that their pain matters and people care. It also brings about change. Same applies to talking about race. Talking about racism doesn’t create more racism. Could you imagine if only the people who were directly impacted by cancer were the ones talking about it or advocating for healing? Similarly, people of color need not be the only ones advocating for change…its all of our responsibility. Thus talking about racism with a constructive stance, actionable steps, like done here by Natalie is not only important but our responsibility to one another.

      Our past is not so distant and the impacts of it run far, wide and deep.
      I would encourage you to talk to more people of color, have open and honest conversations with them and you’ll quickly learn just how much racism affects their everyday lives.

  2. Natalie you never cease to amaze me, in a concentrated world of online entrepreneurs and personal development people, to really be one of the ones who can break free of the mold and let their light shine. And by light I don’t mean rainbows and gold and unicorns, but of a substance of truth, perfectly flawed, fully aware of all dark, murky, less fun aspects of yourself – choosing to accept them and glow alongside them anyway and most importantly expose them and share them with all of us. Like you, I love that as a species we’re choosing to be aware of and spread our love and light, but too often our desire to do so comes with the false premise that we must not express and therefore avoid the darkness that must exist in order to allow the stars to shine and be seen within. The darker aspects of ourselves as individuals and as a collective can not be avoided & shoved into a closet made not to exist and as we do this time and time again thinking that the solution is to avoid life’s less desirable aspects & pretend light only exists in our world. The more we hide these seemingly small, darker aspects of ourselves and the world – the more we give them time to incubate into real, nasty, gnarly masses. Charlottesville happened because we pretended racism was no longer an issue while completely avoiding the opposite opinions and sometimes cries for help from minorities still suffering and it also happened because we avoided the subtle racist remarks from our friends and associates and the growing hate speech that was spreading like wild fire across the Obama era and elections left unchecked. We can not go back I’m time to stop the chaos that occurs when we leave seemingly miniscule things to grow for too long, but we can learn to never do it again. Like learning you must address your bills in whatever way you can before letting them pile up until your finances are out of control, we must learn to take action immediately when we see something that feels wrong in our souls. And maybe you think you’re not racist so there’s nothing that you need to do or maybe you think you don’t have time to get involved, but you are responsible as a non-racist who deeply knows that we are all the same at the core to hell be the change the world is asking you to be to make unity come alive on our planet. And as much as I think it’s wonderful to get involved through activists and charities, ETC. I know the easiest stupid simple thing we can do is not turn a blind eye to what we don’t want in our world no more. Stand up to the uncle making racist remarks, stand up against the racist injustices happen in your community, get to know every color and creed and see from their perspective, if you don’t know everything about slavery and why black people are still wounded by it – ask them, read about it (there’s more to it than basic high school history class taught you, I promise you). It doesn’t matter if you take these little steps or the bigger steps towards getting involved, but you must get involved each and every day in any little way if you want to see it reflected back in our way. Just as in any goal we set we take little steps to achieve it, as a global collective we make massive changes by every individual who chooses to do so. But we can no longer hide behind our own shadows, remain idle and expect someone else to change the world for us. If you want to be love and light, choose to be the light that each day transcends the darkness.

    ❤ Thank you Natalie for fearlessly speaking out when far too many remain silent

  3. Hi Natalie,

    I commend you for the piece you’ve written for refinery29 for the fact that you outlined concrete things people can do to help that will make a difference! All too often people of colour have been given nice speeches or platitudes about how we all need to come together…yada yada yada. It take concrete solutions to fix issues, not platitudes! Getting a “hug”, while a lovely gesture in the moment, does NOT address SYSTEMIC RACISM!!!!!

  4. Dear Natalie,
    I love this post. It talks about exactly what I have tried for a long time to say. I just don’t like the reason you were forced to say it.
    I think that each person can work together to help one another and in doing so help to prevent things like this from happening. Working together despite any differences shows the world that it is up to each person to show compassion to others and help one another. As you have said, we are ALL brothers and sisters. We all matter, all races, disabilities, religions, sexual-orientations, etc.
    In GA, where I live, there are some who are understanding I will admit, but it also has many with trump stickers, people who are very racist, etc. The crime rates in this area are increasing. I truly believe that people from places like this often create events like the one in Charlottesville. It’s sad to watch, because I can seriously only give so much to help this community.
    If there were no hate, I honestly think the lives lost would have been saved and those harmed saved from being harmed. It doesn’t all come from GA. but it starts somewhere my friend. I truly believe it starts from all over because it starts in societies that allow hate to grow in people. That hate can honestly be stopped with love. I truly believe that.
    Love may start with words and some actions help that love. I believe that each person can stand up and end hate. I chose to long ago and when I did found people like you. I’m very glad that I met you and have honestly wanted to meet those like you in person to give you a hug. I’ve watched as people post photos and longer to be there too. It’s not about me though and never was. What it IS about is written in this post and it’s beautiful my friend.
    I’m proud to call you a friend.

    Angela Taylor

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