Statement on White Supremacist Rallies in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro
This weekend, white supremacist groups will host rallies in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro. While Black Lives Matter Nashville (BLMN) understands why it is important to counter-protest these types of gatherings, BLMN will not participate in any counter-protest. We believe that gatherings of neo-nazis and klansmen like these distract us from the destructive ways systemic white supremacy rallies against the lives of Black and Brown folks in Middle Tennessee and this country everyday.
The white supremacists that will gather this weekend are at work in these systems year round. Our hope is that any counter-protest will extend its message to discussing the myriad ways Black people are disproportionately and negatively impacted by the systemic policies that undergird this country. With their proud displays of Confederate iconography, Shelbyville and Murfreesboro are attractive locations for groups like the League of the South. We know that they are here because they want to incite fear in our Black and Brown immigrant communities. We know that they are here because our resistance against the devaluation of our lives is growing and they feel their power to divide us being threatened. We know they are here because we live in a country that continues to scapegoat and type rural communities as centers for hate, racism, islamophobia, and fascism, but refuses to acknowledge the classist ways white supremacy is employed.
We recognize that white supremacy is not relegated to our country’s rural outskirts. Just this year Nashville openly welcomed the National convening of the Fraternal Order of Police, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and will be hosting the American Legislative Exchange Council in December (ALEC). These organizations are driven by the people who maintain the system of white supremacy by protecting murderous police, lobbying against community accountability measures like community oversight boards, rolling back regulations on equipping police departments with military grade weaponry, and legislating to increase corporate profit through the prison industrial complex. All these policies and more work together to undermine Black life.
Finally, we believe that these rallies are times for white people to step up. Although it is scary, cowering in fear, hiding behind closed businesses or relying on protection from law enforcement will not effectively combat white supremacy. For many people of color, the daily experiences of living in America offer no safe places to hide or people to call for protection. Taking the time to question your fears, unpack the ways you uphold the pillars of white supremacy and continue the difficult task of dismantling the many institutions in place that reinforce white supremacy- long after the rallies are gone- is the type of solidarity needed in these times.
Gatherings like what will occur in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro are used as scapegoats for institutions and white America at large; it becomes a chance to point fingers at the obvious racists. In reality, it is both the practice of overt and covert racism that makes these violent and hateful rallies of klansmen and neo-nazis possible. It is white America who invited them in and it is white America who has the responsibility to see them out.