Charlottesville reminds us of the courage it takes to stand against racism

Martha McCoy, Executive Director
August 15, 2017

University of Virginia building

The horrific events that took place in Charlottesville this past weekend underscore the role racism has played, and continues to play, in the history of our country.

We condemn white supremacy ideology – not only in the stark manifestations we have witnessed in recent days but also in the often unnoticed ways it continues to distort our thinking, our relationships, our culture, and our democracy.    

What took place in Charlottesville reminds us of the courage it takes to stand against racism. Heather Heyer’s senseless killing is a powerful call to all Americans to understand the evil of racism and stand against it in all its forms. Our hearts are with Heather Heyer’s family and friends, and with all those who are dealing with injuries and struggling for their lives as a result of this violence.   

In the face of growing division in our country, there are things all of us can and must do − in our hearts and minds, our relationships with our families and friends, our faith communities, our businesses and workplaces, our nonprofits, our local communities, our politics and government, our media, and our country as a whole.

Racism can seem insurmountable because it is a “shape shifter” and thus adept at seeming normal. But there is great power in deepening our personal understanding of racism, in creating respectful relationships across divides, and in taking collective action to create a nation that values everyone’s voice while striving for racial justice.

As we learn how our country and our communities got to a place of injustice and division and learn to practice honest, respectful ways of working together, we can undo racist systems and create relationships and systems that value inclusion, fairness, and equity.   

For more than twenty-five years, we at Everyday Democracy have been working with diverse coalitions of community leaders, in every region of the country, as they have brought together hundreds and thousands of people across divides for dialogue and transformative change through a lens of racial equity. We have learned that people can build trust and relationships with those who are different, even when they have not grown up side by side, when there are welcoming opportunities to listen to and engage with each other and to make a difference.

Realizing that racism remains one of the greatest barriers to fulfilling our potential as a democracy, Everyday Democracy began using a racial equity lens in all our work many years ago. This means that our dialogue resources and coaching help people of all backgrounds understand how structural racism affects all of us and detracts from our collective ability to address all the public problems we face.   

We invite you to join with us and others across this country who are creating spaces for people to come together across divides, address the roots of racial injustice, and work together for communities where everyone can thrive.  Please visit our web site to learn more about our resources and community partners, and contact us to learn about starting dialogue for change in your community.        


(Photo credit: Phil Roeder)



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Mayme Webb Bledsoe of the Duke Durham Neighborhood Partnership Uses Dialogue to Lift Voices in the Duke / Durham Community 

Dialogue to Change

Our ultimate goal is to create positive community change that includes everyone, and our tools, advice, and resources foster that kind of change. Whether you’re grappling with a divisive community issue, or simply want to include residents’ voices in city government, Everyday Democracy's Dialogue to Change process, using a racial equity lens, can help.