Why Charlottesville is our fight too

The violence and domestic terrorism committed by white supremacists in Charlottesville last weekend was an explicit display of the racism and antisemitism that still exists in our nation. The president’s appalling and unconscionable response is further evidence that racism is widespread and reaches the highest levels of our government and culture.

At Planned Parenthood we’re speaking out and standing with our partners who fight for racial justice, because white supremacy affects the people who come to us for care, and their ability to determine their own destiny. Reproductive justice organizations have been showing us the way for decades, drawing the connection between race and reproductive autonomy. White supremacy is directly in conflict with our ability to help the people we serve fully own their bodies and futures, and we condemn the hateful actions and rhetoric of white supremacists and their sympathizers.

But racism is not just present when white supremacists carry torches and Nazi symbols, and when the president makes excuses for their violence. Racism and white supremacy are built into our economic, justice, housing, education, and health systems in ways that many of us probably don’t think about. And they show up in all facets of people’s lives, from unequal access to quality affordable housing, effective education, and economic opportunities to police brutality and an unjust immigration system.

The white supremacists in Charlottesville want to continue this country’s long history of threatening people of color’s safety and control over their own bodies, whether it’s accessing health care or walking down the street and being able to feel safe. And it’s that same ideology that has mobilized violence against Black churches, mosques, synagogues and Jewish community centers, immigrant communities, the LGBTQ+ community.

This is not a morally ambiguous ideology. There is only one side.

This racism didn’t happen on its own — it was built by white people and white people must take action to dismantle it. People of color have led the fight against racism for generations, but we all have a responsibility to tear out the foundations of racism wherever we find it: in ourselves, our communities and our organizations, including Planned Parenthood.

What happened in Charlottesville is an extreme expression of the pain and intimidation that communities of color face regularly. As long as the injustice of racism persists, none of us can be silent or neutral.

That’s why Planned Parenthood will stand with and support our partners in working to end white supremacy — which means tackling systems, laws, customs and privileges with which many of us have grown up — to make this country live up to its promise of equality. That’s why we will always speak up in this fight. That’s why we must continue to look inward and reconcile our own history.

Not just because our patients’ lives are at stake, but because it is the right, moral thing to do.

Planned Parenthood is more committed than ever to delivering compassionate care, and to building a country and a world where no one has to live in fear of exclusion, harassment or violence.

I encourage Planned Parenthood supporters to lend their incredible power and passion to our partners fighting for racial justice. You can start by participating in one of hundreds of events across the country, which are being built continuously and listed here. And visit the Leadership Conference, Color of Change, The Majority, Black Youth Project 100, and Showing Up for Racial Justice to learn more about racial justice and what you can do.

The great writer and public philosopher James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Planned Parenthood will not look away from racism and hate, as we work to change our country and our world for the better.