A.D. Carson says he was asked by counter-protestors to speak out in response to the white-supremacist, "alt-right" and neo-Nazi organizers who had descended on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Carson, who gained international attention for earning a Doctorate with a thesis in the form of a hip hop album, has been settling into his new home there.
Carson is a native of Decatur who got his Master's degree at UIS before going to Clemson University in South Carolina. It was there he earned his Ph.D. He was accepted earlier this year to be an Assistant Professor of Hip Hop at UVA.
Students were beginning to arrive and move in on campus Friday, at the same time members of the KKK and other white supremacist groups gathered with torches to march and protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. On Saturday counter-protestors were beginning to gather as well. "The energy was very positive Saturday morning, and then maybe ... 10 o'clock - it just seemed like the energy was really odd and it seemed very dangerous," says Carson.
Carson says he was wary of those who were openly carrying assault rifles. Meanwhile he says, police seemed uninterested in helping protect counter-protestors. "Police officers seemed to just be guarding the property." A driver careened into a group of counter-protestors, injuring many and killing one. Carson is critical of those, including the President, who have perpetuated what he called a "false equivalency" between the original protestors and those who came to counter them. "I hope that people continue to push back against this ... if people call you violent for showing up to stand in the face of violence, then I don't know how we move forward."
Carson talks about the significance of accountability. "I think it's important to understand that what's going on in Charlottesville is something that is and has been going on in America for a very long time." Carson, who has long written about race relations (read a recent piece here, check out his hip hop work 'Owning My Masters: The Rhetorics of Rhymes & Revolutions' here) shares more about his experience & thoughts in the conversation above.
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