Lior Ipp | August 2017
Watching the images of Neo-Nazis and white nationalists fill our news and social media feeds, is as frightening as it is disturbing. It’s easy to feel powerless – even hopeless – in the face of this past weekend’s events in #Charlottesville. When we conceived of the Roddenberry Fellowship in December 2016, we did so because we anticipated that those of you fighting for a cause and serving communities in need would require even greater support this year and in years to come. What we didn’t fully anticipate is how quickly— and to what extent— the scope of these issues would cross over into the lives of everyday citizens in cities and communities across the country. Seeing the images roll in from #Charlottesville is a clarion call. There should be no doubt that bigotry and discrimination exist and have not disappeared. There should be no confusion as to why they’re being perpetrated and against whom. And there should be no hesitation in recognizing that all of us— regardless of who you are, what you do, or where you live— need to get involved.
What we saw this weekend is not new nor will it simply go away. What happened in Charlottesville is tethered to a long history of racism and is deeply rooted in the psyche of our country’s founding. The marginalization and oppression of people of color, the poor, immigrants, LGBTQ, women, and other minority groups is as old as it is ugly. What is different now is not that these populations are being unduly attacked (which they are) or that institutions that support them are being threatened (also happening) or that there’s a more overt, emboldened nationalism (which there is) but that there are new tactics, tools, and strategies with which to challenge them. And a new generation to use them.
Since launching the Fellowship last month we have heard from hundreds of organizers and activists from across the country through email, social media, and face to face. We’ve spoken to passionate, committed, brilliant – and most importantly – active – individuals from cities big and small who are working hard to stem the tide of hatred and intolerance. We know you are out there and that there are thousands of others who are choosing to speak out, to organize, and to lead organizations that are making a difference. Whether you choose to apply to the Roddenberry Fellowship or any other program is less important than getting engaged; in taking a step forward and in standing up for what is right. We have no time to waste.