'you don't have to be innocent all the time'

Think about your privilege ... you don't have to be right all the time, you don't have to be innocent all the time. I think that's one of the biggest problems that white people in America have, is this desire not to be blamed, this kind of visceral, emotional desire to be innocent. One of the privileges of whiteness is that; it's the sense that everyone is going to care about my psychological well being ... Maybe the best thing you can do as a white person is to say this isn't about me. I'm confused, I'm hurt, I don't understand, but all of those things are not relevant to solving this problem. It's not about me. I need to figure out who is working on the issue and who I can help, and put my own feelings aside. 

Grace Hale, in conversation with Sam Sanders.

A Cup of Jo lists eight ways to help; Reading My Tealeaves has a round-up of social justice reading for people young and old.

witnessing a total eclipse

What you see in an eclipse is entirely different from what you know ... Usually it is a bit of a trick to keep your knowledge from blinding you. But during an eclipse it is easy. What you see is much more convincing than any wild-eyed theory you may know.
Annie Dillard, "Total Eclipse."
On Friday night, I opened my computer to skim through Twitter. On my screen I see a photo of young white people, mostly men, carrying lit tiki torches. They are in Charlottesville, Virginia, protesting the removal of a Confederate monument, a statue of Robert E. Lee erected in 1924, almost 60 years after the Civil War ended.

The man in the center of the photo is white and clean shaven, wearing a white polo shirt with a logo I don't recognize. He has the kind of hair cut I associate with prep schools thanks to Dead Poets Society. He is shouting, and whatever he is saying makes his face ugly and ridiculous.

Most of the torchbearers look young. I think, they must know everyone has a phone. They must know everyone has a camera and the world a click away in their pockets. No one wears a mask; no one is ashamed to be part of this; no one thinks it will cost them anything. They chant  "blood and soil," a Nazi slogan.

I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was. I understand the photo has a very negative connotation. But I hope that the people sharing the photo are willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.
Peter Cvjetanovic, the man in the picture, quoted here

Cvjetanovic goes on to talk about the need to preserve white European culture. So — maybe he is not always angry; he is a racist. A racist marching with other racists, holding torches and shouting Nazi slogans. What you see is much more convincing than any wild-eyed theory you may know.

As the shadow increased the change in the appearance of the country was most curious. The light became pale; our shadows were sharply cut, as by moonlight, but the light was more yellow. A deep gray twilight seemed to come on.
Observations by a Mr. Liveing, quoted by John Couch Adams in On the total Eclipse of the Sun, 28 July 1851, as seen at Frederiksvaern, Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol xxi (1852).


On Saturday, I see a picture of men with guns. The men look military, like police (as I think about this, it strikes me as sad that our police choose to dress as if they are at war). They are not the police; they are white nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis.Virginia is an open-carry state, and they have come with their guns. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe told NPR:
These people all camed armed ... I've never seen so many weapons. These people were wearing better gear than my own state police ... They had body armor, helmets. They were all — I mean, people were walking around with semiautomatic rifles through the streets.
Clergy, activists and citizens are there to resist. They stand, facing down the men with guns. 

Later, a white supremacist drives his car into a crowd of protesters, killing a woman named Heather Hayer. 

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.
Donald Trump, 8/12/2017.


And here was the totality, the sun eclipsed. On many sides. On many sides. No difference made between the Nazis and the side that punches Nazis.

This is something I never thought I'd see. Not from a U.S. president.

The neo-Nazis were appreciative. "Trump comments were good ... no condemnation at all." The president's words cast an unsettling light over the country, revealing the shape of ugly things many pretend are not there. The outrage is swift and relentless.

After two days of intense public pressure, Trump issues a more robust condemnation. In the meantime, he berates Kenneth C. Frazier, Merck CEO, who resigns from the president's manufacturing council to protest hatred and bigotry. #priorities

In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world’s rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether that buoys the rest, that gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here.
Annie Dillard, "Total Eclipse."


The strange light of the solar eclipse reveals hidden things — unknown elements, the bending of starlight. Birds fall from the sky, the wind drops. People shout; people fall silent.

The moment passes, but there is a new memory of darkness.