I hurt for you, Charleston.
I had a different post scheduled for this morning, but it didn’t feel right to publish it today. I’m writing this instead, but honestly, you shouldn’t listen to me about this. You should be listening to the people who live racism every day and for whom this is the latest sucker punch in an ongoing fight to stay on their feet. Go read the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. Go read #AMEShooting. Read Deray McKesson’s tweets, and Elon James’s and Mikki Kendall’s and just read and listen to the people whose voices desperately matter to this conversation.
My words below will be here. You can always come back later. Go listen to their voices first. Then keep listening in the between times, when there are no headlines to remind you. Remember that looking away and not listening is privilege.
When I saw the news, I was on the MARC train heading into DC. I started to weep.
There are so many emotions at war. Profound grief for the families of those who were murdered in cold blood in their safe space. Profound grief for the world in which we live and the history and context that made this shocking but unsurprising. Rage that this war against Black Americans is not over, and that far too many White Americans are content in our institutionalised supremacy and so uncomfortable at the wrongs we and our forebears caused in the past that we flinch from engaging with its aftershocks in our present.
I don’t know how to make it better.
All I know is that this was a terrorist act that will likely not be labeled as such outside of common spaces like Twitter and Facebook, where even there people will rush in to wag fingers and say no, no, terrorism is 9/11 and ALL LIVES MATTER because those people are so deeply unnerved by a terrorist who looks like them, because they are terrified to engage with the fact that we say black lives matter because we’ve spent most of history telling Black folks that they don’t.
It was a terrorist act, an act of racial hatred, to go into a cultivated safe space and make war upon it. To spend an hour looking into the eyes of the victims before killing them in cold blood. That is terrorism. To make terror. To spread fear. To terrorise. And it is a traumatic act, for some survived and they will live with their memories. It is traumatic to a people who have been traumatised for centuries at the hands of oppressors who share my skin colour. It is traumatic to all people with a shred of empathy in their souls, who can look at another human being’s pain and feel the wrongness of what caused it like the twang of broken strings.
Oh, Charleston, how I hurt for you.
If we cannot look into the painful face of our history, we can have no understanding of the present and no change for the future. We must recognise that white supremacy is real, that we all participate in it whether we want to or not, that none of this will change or go away until we face it head on and strive to be better today, tomorrow, and all the days after.
To the people of Charleston who are deep in mourning, I send you all my love and hope for healing. You did not deserve this pain.
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