It began with young white men with torches. 

They took to the streets of Charlottesville because…I don’t know why. Because someone told them they shouldn’t say the n-word? Because a black president made them buy health insurance? Because someone wants to move a statue of a confederate general? It doesn’t make much sense. 

So they marched with torches and were surprised (or maybe not) that there was blowback. Crowds gathered to oppose them. The police decided it was all too hot, too dangerous, and rescinded their permit. The governor declared a state of emergency. There were protests and counter protests. A woman is dead. The man who ran her over with a car is in jail. 

Now social media is alight with words. We argue in the digital public square. As today wears on we will gather in shows of solidarity with the forces that stood for diversity and acceptance, who stood against hate. 

Then what? When you walk away from the candlelight vigil, when you extinguish your flame, what will you do? 

I am no social scientist nor do I understand the intricacies of promoting racial justice. But here’s what I do know: white people cannot simply walk away after the protest ends. 

Because if we walk away, we may simply be returning to a white bubble and that isn’t the way to make change.There are things we can do to support communities of color every day. 

Patronize minority owned businesses. Or patronize large businesses located in diverse communities to help boost their numbers when corporate does their accounting. 

Support artists of color, especially new artists and those in your area. Read books by authors of color. Talk about the books, the movies, the music of these artists and authors. Amplify their voices.  

Support people of color for political office at all levels. Vote for them. Donate to their campaigns. 

Affirm the place of people of color in your country, your state, your town, your life. 

Affirm and affirm again and again. Make that affirmation part of daily life. 

As the internet memes say, be the change you want to see in the world.

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