Last week, a horrific, evil act happened in Charleston…motivated by racism and hate. I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts section since I heard about it. I would type and erase, type and erase, sit and stare, and cry and cry and cry, so angry, so sad. I’ve been reading and listening a lot…partly in fear that anything I would say may not be the right thing, partly because who am I to even comment and partly because I wanted to hear from others, but ultimately coming to the conclusion that I cannot be silent.
Feeling so angry about it all and while yes, it’s hard to wrap your head around such evil, I can wrap my head around the attitudes and culture of whiteness and white supremacy that moved him there…because it’s everywhere. I refuse to sweep it under the rug as just a hate crime that is isolated to this “white guy who was a loner” or explain it away as “it’s just sin”. It’s more than that. There is nothing new about this killer’s worldview. As Joshua DuBois says, “Yes, the killer was deranged, but he simply had a more extreme version of a common malady.” (please read the article that comes from here). It’s a further example of the racial injustices and racism that courses through the veins of our country and our society. And yes, while I was born white, a fact that does give me privilege and power, I was not born silent, I do not have to invoke that privilege and distance myself from this awful event, among so many others, and forget.
My dear white brothers and sisters, we cannot be silent and complacent, like @feministgriote said, “Black folks did not create racism, anti-blackness, or white supremacy, therefore it is not our issue to fix.” Karon Walrond, says it well too. We can’t even blame it just on a “white supremacist.” As Nancy Rust says, “We can’t call it that because it lets too many White people off the hook. The average White person (AWP) in America will look at the headlines, recoil at the sickening pictures and deplorable details circulating about Dylann Roof and then declare, “Wow, is he crazy or what? …Until we are able to acknowledge the system that allows these acts to flourish, we will get nowhere.”
Austin Channing, talks about how white supremacy affects everyone and says that we have two choices, we can acknowledge that and work to uproot it or we can let it grow…we are either nurturing love or hate. And knowing that those of us who are white, when we say things like it’s not “all of us”, that really isn’t a comfort, but rather creates distance. So to her I say, “I see this sin in my own heart, my own life, my own church and I am working to uproot it. I don’t want to be this way, and I will do the work to submit this ugliness before Christ.”
To my black brothers and sisters, I am sorry. I am sorry that you are made to feel that your lives do not matter because they absolutely do. I am sorry your experiences are discredited and ignored. I am sorry you have to live in fear and for the pain, anger and injustice you experience, that I know I will never fully understand. I am sorry for the way I have distanced myself from things before because it was easy and have not stood up and worked to uproot this sickness.
There are so many more things that could be said, so many more articles or videos shared, so many more “explanations” about why white supremacy, white culture, whiteness is a thing (explanations shouldn’t even be needed…just look around) but really…it is a time for lamenting. A time where it’s hard to see the hope, joy, peace and reconciliation that should exist. Where people refuse to be comforted and join in prophetic grieving. When these beautiful people in their place of worship welcomed a stranger and then were gunned down for their hospitality and grace, with the only crime being the color of their skin…it’s a time to lament. It’s a time to remember the victims of this tragedy and say their names because THEIR LIVES MATTER: Ethel Lance, Myra Thompson, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., and Rev. Sharonda Singleton.
(p.s. please take the time to read all the links. Also, the sermon below by Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil is worth the 30 minutes)