Our thoughts on Charlottesville
By Jeff Nelson
August 15, 2017
To our OneGoal community,
I am reaching out today with a heavy heart, after a weekend marred with hatred and violence from white supremacists who descended on the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville. While this domestic terrorism shook the nation, its root causes are not new. Everyday we see overt and more subtle forms of oppression and racism on college campuses and across our country. They are, in fact, the reasons why there is a such inequity in America today.
And yet in the face of vitriol, I also saw courage as a diverse coalition of counter-protesters, from Black Lives Matters to religious groups, sang out and drowned the sounds of hate. The response to Heather Heyer’s murder and to the numerous other counter-protesters’ injuries, was not to retaliate with violence, but to further dig in their heels. On Sunday, spontaneous demonstrations sprouted in solidarity in cities including Chicago, New York and in our nation’s capital. Their voices rang out clearly, sending a strong message that we stand in unity for equity and we will not be intimidated.
As I reflected on this weekend and how new class orientation that will start soon at UVA, I could not stop thinking about incoming students of color, and especially about Fellows and Alumni who encounter racism day in and day out on campuses. As you are preparing for college, you and your family may also be experiencing anger, sadness and a multitude of other emotions. Whatever you are feeling after last weekend’s events, we at OneGoal want you to know that you BELONG, and that you are not alone. There is a groundswell of people standing alongside you in resistance.
We have already seen incredibly powerful reflections and leadership from the OneGoal community and wanted to create a space where you can connect with thousands of other Fellows, Alumni, Program Directors and staff members that are also processing this weekend’s events. We invite you to share reflections, in whatever way feels best for you (words, pictures, video). If you would like to connect on Facebook you can add your comments to this post, or share thoughts on Twitter or Instagram and include the hashtag #onegoalgraduation. If you prefer to write us directly you can do so at this link. Please know that no reflection is too small or big: from how you’re feeling in the moment, to what OneGoal can do to better support Fellows, to words of encouragement for Fellows and all students as they head off to school this year.
We know that OneGoal can and must do more to support and advocate for Fellows as you encounter overt and subversive racism and discrimination on college campuses. Our hope is by collecting and sharing reflections from our community, we can both send a powerful, affirming message to students of color and also help inform the way OneGoal supports future generations of Fellows.
I am incredibly thankful to work and learn from you everyday. I hope that you will always find community, strength and support from your cohorts and all of us at OneGoal.
Sending love and solidarity,
Co-Founder + CEO