The Other Tennessee

Yesterday, the KKK launched a week-long training camp for youth in a little town in Arkansas. Open to people ages 16 and up, the camp seeks to build “a mighty army” to take back the white race from what they describe as “racial genocide.” 

In anticipation of this camp, some activists in Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia, and Tennessee began a conversation about what it would look like to shut it down. We quickly realized that we did not want to give the KKK, and groups like them, any more of the media spotlight than they already have. We thought, “Instead of bringing these groups more attention, what if we stepped out of silence and drowned them out? What if we said, ‘Hey World! We’re Southern and we envision a world where Black lives matter! We believe it and we’ll fight for it!‘” 

All throughout the South, hate groups are organizing rallies and protests in defense of their beloved Confederate flag. Right here in our own capitol white supremacists are organizing to defend the memory and legacy of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Though few people openly agree with the outright white supremacy of the KKK, or other such organizations that make their home in the South, the pervasive silence surrounding them serves as a protection. 
It’s time to step out of silence. We need to come together not only to speak out against white supremacy, but to support and build communities where such hate finds no protection. The time has come for each of us to stand up in our home communities and ask ourselves, what will the coming generations expect of us?
Born in 1924, Anne Braden was a white Southern woman who was part of movements for racial justice throughout her life. She called these movements “the other America.” She wrote, “This other America has always existed, even before the slave ships arrived. African Americans have always fought against their oppression, and many died rather than endure slavery. And at least some whites have joined these struggles – in the early resistance to slavery, the Abolitionist movement, the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, the upsurges of people’s movements in the 1930s, the civil rights activities of the 1950s and ’60s, and beyond to today in the 21st century.” 
The other America is what we want to be part of – joining struggles for a new world. This isn’t just about simply proclaiming that not all Southern people are racist. This is about each of our roles in fighting against the cultures of silence that perpetuate such hate. After all, contemporary racism seldom shows up in klan robes, but it profits from the inaction of the moral majority.

Will we be a part of making a new world, or will we continue to let the voices of white supremacy speak louder, speak for us?

How to join The Other Tennessee movement:

1) Become a coalition partner! Email

2) Get the word out to your people!
3) “Like” us on Facebook here. Post photos to the FB page with the hashtags ‪#‎TheOtherTennessee‬ ‪#‎NotInMyName‬ ‪#‎WeMakeTheRoadByWalking‬ ‪#‎RiseUpAgainstHate‬ #BlackLivesMatter. Or, email us your photo and message and we will post them for you!
4) Encourage people to host living room conversations or film screenings about what it means to speak out against racism and white supremacy. The documentary films Anne Braden: Southern Patriot or You Got To Move: Stories of Change in the South might be a good place to start. Let us know if you’d like help facilitating, obtaining the films, or using other types of media to get a conversation started, and we’ll send ideas and help your way!
Building collective futures,
SURJ Nashville
I never knew anybody who really got active because of guilt. Everybody White that I know’s gotten involved in this struggle got into it because they glimpsed a different world to live in… Human beings have always been able to envision something better… All through history there have been people who have envisioned something better in the most dire situations. That’s what you want to be a part of.” – Anne Braden
See the regional coalition’s full statement here.
Read about our partners in Mississippi here.
Read about our partners in Arkansas here.

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