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UVA Alumnus Sasheer Zamata Reflects on Charlottesville: “The Confederacy Didn’t Win and Neither Will They”

Under faltering leadership that inspires more fear and hate than hope, we’re seeing media personalities take a stronger stance against hateful rhetoric, terrorism, and violence than Trump. Sasheer Zamata is one of those voices, as she recently went on social media to reflect on her time at University of Virginia.

If you can’t load the Instagram caption above, it reads:

“It may be hard to tell what era this picture is from, but this is me when I was going to school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. Over the weekend, a group of terrorists (people are calling them “White Nationalists”) attacked Charlottesville and the people protesting their efforts to protect statues dedicated to oppression and the division of this country. I got really sad and scared after reading the news and didn’t know what to do with my emotions, but after thinking about it for a while, I’ve decided to write out some positive memories I have from my time in Charlottesville that make me smile when I think of them. (SWIPE) #Charlottesville

In the slide show, Zamata writes both fondly and candidly about her years at UVA. Her memories include playing Lady in Green in “Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem ‘for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf,'” a moment that the former SNL star says allowed her to connect with people and let her know she “wanted to do this forever.” Other highlights include her first car, learning American Sign Language, starring in her first short film, co-directing a production of The Vagina Monologues, and starting her own improv group Amuse-Bouche.

For many younger people, college is the space we discover a lot of these passions and engage in these conversations. Zamata has spoken in the past about how it was in college that she first made a space for herself in a predominantly white-male comedy scene. It still exists today, and was clearly a significant moment in her life.

Zamata also opens up about less stellar memories, like being hit by a car and seeing so much racism her first year that she considered dropping out. “I’m not saying that Charlottesville is full of inclusion and harmony,” Zamata writes, citing a conversation with a black upperclassman as the reason she stayed. “She said that I could transfer and maybe things would be easier at a different school, or I could stay and learn about racism now so I’m not surprised when I encounter it after college. I thought that was a pretty bleak way to look at it, but she was right. I’m glad I stayed and I was able to witness racism in a safer environment that I would on my own as an adult.”

In the last two images of her post, she reflects on her view of the city now in a way that many people of color who went to college can likely relate to:

I essentially minored in race relations while in school, and I imagine a lot of students of color feel the same way. So now when racist things happen, I’m not surprised. I still get sad and angry, but I’m not surprised because I know how to identify it. Fortunately, racism was only a small part of my college experience and not the first thing I remember when I think of Charlottesville. There are things to work, like in every community, but the revisionist history that the Robert E. Lee statue promotes is no longer welcome.

I’m excited about its removal and the progress we’re making by acknowledging this country’s transgressions. Like Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in his speech addressing the removal of the Confederate monuments in New Orleans, these monuments were ‘erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.’ And that’s why these hate groups are scared, they’re afraid they’re not in charge anymore, and they should feel that way. They can keep rooting for a losing team if they want to, but the Confederacy didn’t win and neither will they.

No, they won’t.

(via Daily Dot, image: screencap)

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