Pretending liberal communities are safe for everyone is doing more harm than good and it didn’t save Nabra Hassanen.By Aja Barber A few weeks ago my best friend met me at my house with two big bouquets of wilting purple tulips, one for each of us to hold as we walked solemnly to the plaza located a stone’s throw from my house for a memorial for a teenager. A child. A person whose smile evidently brought joy to every person who knew her. A child has been murdered and it rocked our liberal Northern Virginia community to its very core. While remembering Nabra Hassanen, I looked out and saw friends and neighbors – all of us holding bouquets and passing out flowers – so many faces with looks of searching. “How could this happen?” their faces read. Meanwhile inside, I was thinking, “How could you let this happen?” When will white liberals take the reigns in the fight against white supremacy? When will they stop looking the other way? When will they realize it’s up to them to dismantle white supremacy and not the burden for people of color to bear? Reston – my hometown and the place where Hassanen was brutally murdered – is supposedly imbued with liberal and progressive values. Reston was built as one of the first planned communities in the United States after World War Two. I’ve lived here for thirty odd years, my parents bought their house when I was barely a year old. I have never met a single liberal white person who didn’t want to shout in my ear about how accepting and wonderful Reston it is, how it is more special than any of the other places in Virginia. The chorus of back slapping and congratulatory applause gets to be a bit much.
The system of white supremacy has left the United States in a precarious situation, one in which hateful policies inflicted on people of color around the world have been retaliated against through vicious acts of terrorism both domestically and abroad.