[The following message was sent via email to SAHM members the Monday following the violence in Charlottesville, VA]

Dear SAHM members:

It is with a very heavy heart that I write to you today.  I share your sentiments of horror and outrage in response to the horrific display of racism, bigotry, violence and hatred in Charlottesville, VA this past Saturday. I have spent much of the weekend personally reaching out to our known SAHM members in Charlottesville and can report that they are all physically safe, but deeply concerned and saddened.  Many for whom they advocate and provide care were directly affected.

It is tragic that in 2017, Neo-Nazis and white supremacists parade through the downtown of a major university town, whose young adult students return next week, armed and shouting racial and religious slurs and hatred in an attempt to further divide our country. The presence of Neo-Nazis and other hate groups extends this reign of terror and remembrance of discrimination, death and fear to individuals in countries beyond our borders.

Those who showed up to advocate for white supremacy and hatred fight for a world devoid of people they perceive as different. This message is harmful in many ways. It brings fear and trauma to our adolescents who are trying to figure out the world they will soon be entering. It attempts to normalize hateful and violent rhetoric.  Hatred and violence should never be socially acceptable.  It also turns the national conversation away from unity to contention, disparity and despair. It is a world I dreamed our adolescents and young adults would not experience.

It is tragic that those shouting “Unite the Right” and “You will not replace us” seem incapable of empathizing with those who have faced systemic oppression because of their race, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation. Those who are shouting about white supremacy have not experienced this kind of oppression, but have enjoyed privilege. Their ancestors were not slaves. They have not fought for suffrage. There is no travel ban for them because of their religion. They do not have to worry about their names immediately disqualifying them from jobs. This failure of empathy is not human progress. Instead, it represents human stagnancy and regression at the expense of the health and well-being of our diverse communities. It does not lead to the road to tolerance and understanding.

As stated in my presidential address, we will always be opposed to hate, violence and discrimination of any kind, against any group for any reason anywhere in the world, and we are working on a related position statement with the SAHM Diversity Committee. We condemn and deplore the murderous attack on peaceful demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the ugly expressions of racism and xenophobia to which the demonstrators were responding.  With the proliferation of weapons, nuclear and otherwise, we cannot afford to be silent or allow environments of hatred, intolerance and intimidation to exist.  Too many lives have been lost. Our young people are watching.  Continue to speak out. Continue to be loud. Continue to drown out the cries for a return to the bad old days. SAHM supports you. Progress knows only one direction: forward. No amount of hate can change that.

Love will always be better than hate.  Doing what is right will always be better than doing what is wrong or doing nothing at all.  Faith will always overcome fear. 

With warm regards and gratitude for all you do.

Sincerely yours,

Tamera Coyne-Beasley, MD, MPH, FAAP, FSAHM

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