This is probably my third attempt at writing this blog post. My blog calendar says I was supposed to write about summer essentials, but how could I pull together a post about my favorite sandals and summer drink recipes when my heart is aching. On Wednesday night, a young white man sat in the historical Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal for an hour before murdering nine African American men and women who were in this house of worship.
I joined the hoodie movement for Trayvon Martin. Ferguson and Baltimore rocked my soul. I couldn’t believe Anthony Hill was killed. I felt for the young girl in McKinney who was mistreated by a cop. All of these stories hit home,but this was different. This wasn’t police brutality. This was a hate crime – an act of terrorism. In. MY. Hometown. I was born in Charleston. I was raised in Charleston. I love the city of Charleston. I would eventually love to raise my children there. To see such a horrific thing happen because of one person’s hate was too much.
Let me be clear. I know not all cops and specifically white cops are bad. I know not all white people are racists. And I’m not being divisive by saying #BlackLivesMatter.
I’m asking people to stop telling me how to feel when people that look like me are being shot down out of hate and fear. I’m asking people to stop comparing Charleston’s reaction to the events in Baltimore and Ferguson – these are completely different situations. I’m asking for people to stop saying “not everything is about race”.
My home state still flies the Confederate Flag on Capitol grounds. After President Obama was elected I was spit on by a young white guy on the campus of my beloved University of South Carolina. He said I was ruining the country. Me, the girl who had a 3.8 GPA, was ruining the country. OK. I’ve been followed in stores — owners looking for me to steal. I’ve been told I’d be prettier if my skin wasn’t so dark. The Dylan’s of this world are mad because I support #BlackGirlsRock and they’re mad because I know I rock. I watch people who look like me get killed a lot. So again stop telling me how to to feel.
As I mentioned I’ve tried writing this post three times. I couldn’t eloquently express how I was truly feeling. Each post just made me seem angry or just extremely sad (both of which are true). However, I knew that anyone who would read either version wouldn’t take anything away from it. So I decided to round-up some of the really eye-opening articles/videos I’ve come across in the past few days.
I’m not sure how many views this post will get. I’m sure I’ll offend someone, but I don’t care. I just hope this will make at least one person understand the larger issue at hand.
Was already weary. Was already heavy hearted. Was already tired. Where can we be safe? Where can we be free? Where can we be black?
— solange knowles (@solangeknowles) June 18, 2015
— Krissy Louboutin (@whatKRISSYwants) June 20, 2015
Racism is not a mental illness. Unlike actual mental illnesses, it is taught and instilled. Mental illness was not the state policy of South Carolina, or any state for that matter, for hundreds of years — racism was. Assuming actions grounded in racial biases are irrational not only neutralizes their impact, it also paints the perpetrator as a victim.
The Confederate flag’s defenders often claim it represents “heritage not hate.” I agree—the heritage of White Supremacy was not so much birthed by hate as by the impulse toward plunder. Dylann Roof plundered nine different bodies last night, plundered nine different families of an original member, plundered nine different communities of a singular member. An entire people are poorer for his action. The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act—it endorses it. That the Confederate flag is the symbol of of white supremacists is evidenced by the very words of those who birthed it:
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth…
Take down the flag. Take it down now.
Put it in a museum. Inscribe beneath it the years 1861-2015. Move forward. Abandon this charlatanism. Drive out this cult of death and chains. Save your lovely souls. Move forward. Do it now.