The events of Charlottesville are a heavy and troubling reminder of the racism and intolerance for differences that still exist in this country. While the vision of violence and loss of life stays vividly in our minds and hearts, let it drive all of us who believe in equity and quality of life for all into a new effort of collaboration among all sectors and races.
The fact is, we are an interdependent society whose individual successes and failures directly and indirectly impact every citizen. The National Urban League and its local affiliates, such as the Milwaukee Urban League, are committed to advocating for social justice, access and opportunities on a number of platforms essential to a strong America: (1) jobs and the economy, (2) small business and entrepreneurship, (3) education and children, (4) affordable housing, (5) homeownership and asset building, (6) health and (7) justice, voting and civic engagement. It is critical that leaders across all sectors work together to create a civil and respectful environment that will stimulate and encourage positive discussions and interactions on all of these fronts.
A divisive community is not a positive community and it serves no one. The Milwaukee Urban League is not intolerant; it welcomes people of all races and cultures. This ideology contributes to our collaborative efforts to work with everyone who has positive ideas of how we can coexist as a people and move forward as a society. We must create policies that not only serve our interests, but also mirror our values in order to achieve a more peaceful, equitable nation.
The goal of the hate groups that staged a protest in Charlottesville, Virginia was to infuse fear, but just the opposite happened. A young woman, Heather Heyer, gave her life for peace and justice and the outpouring of love that came from her sacrifice is truly remarkable. And this event, in all likelihood, buoyed city officials in several states to remove confederate statues from display. This is what overcoming fear can do.
So as we move forward with a renewed strength and vigor to remove the scourge of bigotry from our society, let us keep in mind that this country was founded in an era of perceived racial inferiority. That is a true part of our history and the truth never changes. That does not mean, however, that we cannot create a more peace-loving, nonviolent, society where equality reigns.
Eve Hall, Ph.D., is president and chief executive officer of the Milwaukee Urban League.