Smile Politely

Addressing white supremacy and elections

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, however, if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” – Maya Angelou

At the most recent Presidential debate, Donald Trump refused to condemn white supremacy. Again. (As you may remember, in 2017 there were “very fine” people who brought terror into Charlottesville.)

As his comments to the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” become a rallying cry,  it’s easy to see how groups like these feel emboldened by the general rhetoric of the last few years, as white-nationalist organizations expanded their reach and infiltrated the mainstream.

The sundown towns of Illinois are not so long ago, and we have living elders on both sides of that experience. Today’s hate groups might not look or talk like the KKK in history books, but the online recruitment and mobilization of groups like the Proud BoysIdentity Evropa, and Patriot Front is no less violent, and they are in our communities. Two have distributed fliers on the Illinois campus and others have distributed anti-immigrant flyers

Hate groups thrive on fear, which they leverage for recruitment of white people and use to intimidate Black, Muslim, Hispanic, queer, and other targeted groups. The coming general election is being used for this purpose, and the justice department and FBI are preparing for possibility of election day violence and voting disruptions.

In the face of targeted and organized hate, it’s normal, and their goal, that you feel intimidated and paralyzed. Action is the best antidote to fear and despair. Learn to spot extremism, and talk to your family members about what they’re seeing online. Take up one of the calls to action, below.

Most importantly, be vocal and pro-active. Call white supremacy what it is. Remember: you are not alone: seek out the collective action that is already happening. Community solidarity is the greatest preventative measure against white nationalism. 

Calls to Action

Note: See more events on our Racial justice calendar

Show up this week

CU-SURJ Check in Circle (weekly)

Oct 8th, 4:30 p.m., online

Register here

Swing Georgia Left Recruitment Phonebank (weekly)

Oct 8th, 5 to 8 p.m. 

The City of Champaign Listening Session on Public Safety

Oct 9th, 1 p.m., online

Oct 9th, 6 p.m., online

Swing Georgia Left Voter Contact Phonebank (weekly)

Oct 10th, 12 to 3:30 p.m. 


Oct 13th 

How to be Less Stupid About Race

Oct 22nd, 1 to 2 p.m.

Cumberland County Text Bank

Tuesdays and Thursdays

Please send any events to


Local Voices

  • Read: “Being Black in America” from Rev. Andre Crittenden, senior pastor at Urbana’s Rest-Oration Church.
  • Read: State Senate panel looks at land use, gentrification, effects of redlining.

Learn more

  • Read: “The Problem is White Supremacy” by Barbara Smith 
  • Read: The Characteristics of White Supremacy 
  • Listen: “Sounds Like Hate” podcast from the Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Watch: ‘Rednecks for Black Lives’ Rallies White Southerners for Racial Justice
  • Plan: see this sample calendar of how to make anti-racist education a daily habit

Anti-Racist Parenting

  • Follow: Conscious Kid on Instagram
  • Read: They’re Not Too Young to Talk about Race from The Children’s Community School

Cultural Work

Send art/poetry/music submissions to:

We also encourage you to:

Top photo from Patriot Front’s tweet (a Twitter account that has now been suspended).

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