From the President of AAAM:
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Association of African American Museums, we emphatically condemn the hate-driven speech and violence that recently shook Charlottesville, VA. Participants in the scheduled ‘Unite the Right’ rally employed a dizzying, and often contradictory, array of white nationalist ideologies, revisionist historical interpretations, and white supremacist iconographies in registering the depth and dimension of their vague enmity. Unmasked finally, they showed us who they were. Counter-protestors stood in opposition, affirming our humanity.
As often happens when American identity politics and race intersect, the confrontation between protestors and counter-protestors has been reduced to the familiar dichotomy of White versus Black. Yet, just over 70 years ago, the swastika stood watch over a Nazi regime that came first for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, then the Jews, then the differently abled, then the Roma, then the LGBTQ community, then the young, and then the old.
The hard fought freedoms secured during the 1960s era Civil and Voting Rights Acts, and subsequent integration of public facilities, were met with outright opposition and the resultant confederate statues that have populated many southern states for the past 60 years.
Though we are more than 150 years removed from the Civil War, there remains a growing effort to recruit, mobilize, and recalibrate the type of white supremacy that terrorized communities of color, both domestic and abroad, throughout the early 20th Century. This effort is currently referred to as the ‘Alt-Right’ movement and includes a number of different groups that share one common belief in the supremacy of whiteness in contrast to all other diverse forms of human existence.
The hate churning Alt-Right movement demands a reckoning with the distorted constructions of our collective past. White supremacy privileges a single narrative and distorts critical aspects of our past. Unlike the notions of the current U.S. president, the actions of such individuals cannot be viewed as anything less than adhorrent and unequivocally immoral.
As the keepers and interpreters of our nation’s history, we must be vigilant in centering the full range of voices and perspectives. We will carry forward the stories and lessons of our past with accuracy, humanity, and truth.
This is how we plan to conquer hate. This is who we are.
Brian J. Carter
AAAM, Board President
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