Standing against racism, hate, white supremacy

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The events in Charlottesville last Friday and Saturday will be etched in our minds for weeks, months, years to come. For so many of us, such racial hatred on display has been all too familiar over the years.

We can understand when some people say, "This isn't our country," and "This isn't America." We all want to believe we live in a country which is so much better than the hate and hostility of the racists and neo-Nazis who rallied in Charlottesville.

But the truth is, this is America. Genocide and slavery were central to the evolution of this country, and racist and exclusionary laws and practices remain. This is the country in which we live and for which we have a responsibility to expose, reject, sideline and end the ideology and politics that perpetuate and enable white supremacy and nativism.

The "Unite the Right" event in Charlottesville used the removal of General Robert E. Lee's statue as a focal point of the gathering. This has been a big issue in the South -- the removal of emblems of the Confederacy, which fought to defend the enslavement of African people in the Civil War. But these racist events went beyond that: as former KKK leader David Duke commented to the media -- this was about carrying out the "promise" of the Trump presidency.

Our immigrant rights movement is certainly experiencing this "promise" -- it is in the outrageous characterization of immigrants as rapists and criminals; in the calls to ban Muslims and for more detentions and deportations; in the obsession to build "the wall", to slash legal immigration, to reject refugees and more.

Now, more than ever, our fight for immigrant rights must be connected and part of a larger cause for equality, for justice, for human rights. We too must reject the racist hate and white supremacy embedded in hostile, organized groups whose targets are not just the defense of statues of treasonous Confederates -- but the very presence and lives of people of color, immigrants and their allies. And they will aim to destroy democratic institutions in their path.

We join the many to stand up for racial justice and to defeat organized hate. #WeAreTheMajority.

We share our condolences with the family and friends of Heather Heyer, who was killed by a participant in the rightwing, racist violence in Charlottesville. Surely, Heather's death, as that of so many who have died before her in the fight against racism, shall not be in vain.