In the wake of the horrific events in Charlottesville last weekend—and our President’s pitiful response—it can be easy to look away in disgust and despair. There are those who are claiming of the violent white supremacy on parade that, “This is not us,” and those who are countering the opposite, that “This IS us.” Both are right. This ugly episode has brought out both the worst of America and its best—those who stood against, fought back, and continue to join together for what is good and right in this country.
The brilliant Fred Rogers used to calm American children after disasters by telling them what his mother told him when he was a boy: “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”
Here, some ways you can be a local helper after this national disaster:
- Support Philadelphians who are working to bridge race relations, like POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild), an interfaith, interracial group working to lift up the lives of poor communities of color, which organized last night’s Philly is Charlottesville March.
- Show up—especially if you are not black or Jewish. “Most of the black people I know were too emotionally exhausted to go to anybody’s rally this weekend,” notes Erica Atwood, interim executive director of the Police Advisory Commission, and the city’s former director of Black Male engagement. “But it brought me great joy to see many of my white and non-black POC friends at Dilworth Plaza via social media. When we are in need of a respite, please continue to show up and hold it down.” Start on Saturday, with Philadelphia Stand Against Racism, when your neighbors will be lining Broad Street from noon to 1 pm in response to Charlottesville. Make It Right PHL, among other places, is a good place to keep up on rallies and other ways to make yourself seen and heard.
- Support local advocacy organization run by people of color whose mission you believe in, like the ACLU of Pennsylvania, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, Philly for REAL Justice, The COLOURS organization or Black Lives Matter.