Be Damned

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church sits at 110 Calhoun St. in Charleston, S.C.

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church sits at 110 Calhoun St. in Charleston, S.C.

I am incapable of words to express my sorrow or my fury. I am at a loss where to begin to express my deep empathy for the families of those who were lost, the survivors, all victims of a terrible hate crime, a horrifying act of violence. I find I am at a loss at how to express my compassion for those left behind to survive the terrible repercussions of violence.

Where do you even begin?

Do we start with the grief that we have not risen from the past but instead nurture hate so closely it drives some among us to walk into places of worship and indiscriminately murder innocent people. How do we battle this cultural nightmare, this disease that continues to feast on heart, decimate soul and destroy future?

We did this, yes when I say we I am specific in my calling out. We, White Folks, those of us with the privilege of being born with skin the color of moonlight. Those of us who check the box, ‘Caucasian’,  or ‘White’ on the Census and all the other forms through our lives, we did this. It is ours, we own it and we have owned it from the first slave sold in this nation. From the Three-fifths Compromise to Dredd Scott, from Jim Crow to Separate but Equal and everything before, after and in between. Every step along the way, White People in power worked to keep those they considered ‘different’ and ‘less than’ powerless. Through economic, educational and justice policies, we have divided this nation’s people into cultural classes that not coincidently aligned along racial-color lines, keeping Black, Brown, White in their separate and unequal lanes.

Now, in this century, in this decade and after the election of the first Black President the hate and fear, the true ugliness of racism has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of political correctness and the result has been truly terrible to witness. Fear and fury rose up from the White community, from the dirt floor of the poorest house in the Appalachians to the polished marble floors of Congress, White Men rose up in protest at the Black Man in the White House. It was terrible to see, but we turned away. We shrugged our shoulders and said, ‘these are not the norm, these are the minority’. We did nothing, said nothing, demanded nothing be changed nothing be confronted.

Worse than the rising up has been our acceptance of this ‘new normal’. We see it, we witness the horror of violence, we turn away. We justify our apathy with, ‘but it isn’t me, I am not a racist’. We11164745_892454580813961_4783942740135091392_n watch in horror as another act of violence is carried out, another unarmed black man, woman or child is beaten or killed by police or civilians but we do nothing except perhaps wring our hands and pretend we don’t understand why. We listen to the nuanced language, the media spin trying to justify the horror show of murderous rampages by white thugs, whether cops or civilians, against those they deem unworthy of life, liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness in the land their ancestors helped to build in chains. We pretend we don’t see it, we forget within the next news cycle.

The state of South Carolina flies the Confederate flag, a symbol of all that is wrong, a symbol of traitors who fought to maintain the status quo of enslaving human beings. The Sons of the Confederacy can whitewash and bullshit all they like, can cry their tears of states’ rights, liberty and freedom as the driving factors of their ancestor’s reasons for secession from the lawful government and their own reason for continuing to worship the Stars & Bars. We should pull that scab off the wound that was the Civil War, demand the history books be revised to tell the truth and call those who would say otherwise damned liars. The war of secession was fought  to keep human beings enslaved and preserve a way of life for wealthy White men and women who did not wish to give up their privilege. The majority who died fighting in that war were poor, ignorant and fearful, they were convinced if the slaves were freed they would be displaced, their women would be raped and their jobs taken. The language of the traitors was eerily similar to those of the Tea Party today, hauntingly analogous to many of those who would be President.

“Government Overreach”

10407515_10203057948409525_2425821899359663210_n“Preservation of Constitutional Values”

“Preserving Liberty and Freedom”

Yes, familiar rhetoric isn’t it. The hubris of those who would preserve a way of life built upon the blood and misery of others is exceeded only by the ignorance necessary to believe the lies. The amount of money spent to divide us, keep us separate, maintain the horror of racism and ignorance exceeds the budgets of some nations, yet we allow it to continue without rising up. We, owe ourselves better than this, better than more blood, more hate, more division based on ignorance. We must demand a change, an accounting; we must say no more.

We, each of us with the privilege of our Whiteness intact must stand up and demand the same privilege for those not born with skin the color of moonlight. We must demand history books tell the truth of America, of slavery, of Jim Crow, of enslavement through poverty, miseducation, unequal justice and incarceration; we must demand an accounting and we must apologize for our own ignorance and blind acceptance of the lies we have told to preserve our own power. We must rise up and against hate and hate groups, we must stop turning away and instead call them what they are, Domestic Terrorists. We must demand an accounting of media that uses their power to criminalize Black victims while whitewashing even celebrating White murderers. We must begin to call things and people what they are, we must hold accountable those who refuse to do so.

We must stop giving a pass to any person who refuses to stand up and call out Hate Crimes and Racism for what they are. We must hold those who would lead to the highest standard and demand they call the nation towards healing, towards justice, towards equality and fairness. Those who will not stand up and call racism what it is, who will not call out their followers for their racist remarks and acts, they do not deserve leadership roles, certainly don’t deserve to be President.

Dead at the hands of a terrorist, racist thug.

Dead at the hands of a terrorist, racist thug.

We all need to start demanding better, doing better, teaching our children better and demanding of our leaders better than they are today. For the lives that have been lost, we need to give them names and bear witness to their tragedy. For those who took their lives, we need to give them no name but murderer, thug, terrorist we need to give them no excuse for their act but the one they gave, racism and hate.

Cynthia Hurd, 54

Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49 Myra Thompson, 59
Clementa Pinckney, 41 Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45 Susie Jackson, 87
Ethel Lee Lance, 70 Daniel L. Simmons Sr., 74

Tywanza Sanders, 26

Comments

  1. A sad act indeed. On the downside, I found much of the talk on the flag took away from what happened … .so I see this post as a reminder.

    • I think Frank, the flag is simply a symbol a reminder of the history that leads to the wrong headedness.

      • No question. A person is free to flying it at over their house, displayed inside their home, on their camper …. tha

      • …. that’s their right of free speech. However, a state’s decision to fly it over a public building is not a good idea … especially that they have only done so since 1962 (-ish).

  2. Val, my humblest apologies for being MIA. This was a magnificent piece of writing, our society has become shamefully numb to such tragedies, reacting momentarily but then returning to our narcissistic lives only to be shocked when the next horrendous event happens as if we should be shocked especially when we choose to do nothing to protect our fellow Americans!

    • There is never a need to apologize, I too have taken to disappearing now and again lately. Discovering my need to insulate and isolate myself for sanity sake. You are so very right, we have become horrifying in our social apathy. I cringe sometimes, other times I simply weep. I hope, maybe this time we will do more than make symbolic gestures.

  3. Good God, Val, you write SO POWERFULLY about issues of justice! And you’re correct. We are all complicit, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. Thank you for tackling this and for sharing the photos of the victims!

    And just so you know. This summer I’m going on two-month RV trip with my nearing-ninety Godmother and her cat Pepe le Mew. I leave for the US in a week. The RV is huge, 37-feet. My Godmother will be driving and towing an SUV the entire way. She was a Flamenco dancer during her entire professional life. I’m going to try to blog about our trip and write a book about the 64 beautiful years she and my Godfather, a Venezuelan movie star (I kid you not!), were married, until Raul died last fall one month shy of his 97th birthday.

    I’m sorry to have been away for so long, my friend!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    • My dearest friend, you have lately been on my mind. Isn’t it strange how minds think alike, hearts beat in the same rhythm. I hope you are well and if you happen to pass near to me you will drop a line, we can meet even if for a brief moment to share a hug and a coffee.

  4. These words had me in tears. Someone else in the thread here said that this will never change, I always say that old habits die hard, this country was founded on privilege putting their foot on the necks of those they deemed unworthy & less fortunate. I will agree completely with the fact that “political correctness” has been part of the problem. It is not in the best interest for people to say what they really feel, what they really mean leaving so much to fester it seems so we don’t hurt any feelings. We encourage talking to our children, our spouses, I will never understand outside of the fact that there is money in the divide, why we discourage open dialogue with regard to racism. Your post is amazing & so poignant.

    • Thank you Kel. You are so right, we do discourage open dialogue and with that we allow the wound to fester. Thank you for reading, thank you for commenting.

  5. Yes, we are seeing race issues play out in the media far more than normal since Obama’s in office. It’s not new, as you know but interestingly enough, with a black president in office, it’s deserving of a spotlight. This tragedy of the Charleston church takes one back to the church bombing of the four little girls. I don’t see America being healed of racial tensions. Look at these clowns who are vying for the political feather in their cap. Racism will continue to be a cancer here and I’m not being a pessimist. It’s a simple, logical fact.

    • You echo another friend of mine. Yet, ever hopeful I wish for reconciliation and change. I want so badly to pull it out by its roots, shake it up, stand against it and move us beyond it. I know, it is a nearly impossible wish, I know and it makes me horribly sad. Yet still, I wish for something better.

  6. What a sad, senseless crime – a tragedy for our whole country.

    • For the racist terrorist who committed it Peg, it wasn’t senseless at all. In his own words he said why he felt the need to murder 9 people. He said it, now the rest of us need to stop hiding from it. We need to start admitting our culture allows this horrifying ugliness to thrive. Until we do, until we call it what it is it will continue.

  7. As usual, Val, you have managed to put some of it into words for all of us. Yesterday I listened to the sermon at the church and wished I had been there even though I have not been to church in years. Perhaps the strength they have showed will bring some change. I don’t think I have ever seen such hatred for a President of the United States.

  8. YES, give the victims NAMES & Faces.

    And the murderer a Nameless Grave.

    xxx

  9. Reblogged this on colouredjustice.wordpress.com.

  10. Val, I just finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s book, “The Invention of Wings.” The author took actual historic figures and incidents and turned it into a novel. Set in the early 1800’s in Charleston, SC, the book is about slavery, the early abolitionists and features Denmark Vesey, whose name I’d never heard before. Turns out Denmark Vesey, was a free Black man who tried to lead a slave rebellion but his plans were discovered and he was tried and executed. Before he died though, he founded the church, the same church where 9 members died this week. His statue stands outside the church. It is worth reading. Gave me quite a bit of insight into those times.

    • I will have to put the book on my Amazon list for my next buy, thank you. I knew the history of the church and of the founder.

      SC has a great deal to answer for. This nation, but especially the old Confederacy, has a great deal to answer for. I think it is time for a true conversation and a true reckoning.

  11. Dreamer9177 says:

    You are absolutely right. Until White people are willing to confront the past, not just act like it never happened, these things are going to happen again and again. It is a mark of cowardice that most white people will not begin to have this conversation in the first place.

    • Agreed, it is an act of cowardice. I don’t know why we won’t talk about it, hear it and confront it. Why we won’t sit down, sit across the table and once and for all time acknowledge both the past and the present. We don’t heal until we scrub the wound

  12. It is surely time to make some drastic changes,]
    and for the greater good of the USA after such a
    heinous and incredibly cowardly act of hatred 😦

    Have a nice rest of weekend Val 🙂

    Andro xxx

    • Trying my friend but I find my heart is heavy and I just want to wrap up in and do nothing.

      Be well

      • If I were a few blocks away instead
        of an ocean I would whizz by and take
        you out for a spin, blow those cobwebs
        away and make you smile, laugh,
        and be as silly as me, the giddy Goth 🙂
        Afterwards I would make you coffee,
        and offer you some cookies, actually
        I would even join in on the eating of
        those as my dieting gets boring on the
        salads, but I am trying to cut down
        so that’s the main thing 🙂 Hey doing
        nothing is okay too you know, but unwrapping and being wicked is better 😉

        Be well also my lovely friend Val 🙂

        Andro xxx

  13. Jan Hobbs says:

    Reblogged this on Blissfully Single and commented:
    This. Please read it. Please!

  14. Jan Hobbs says:

    Thank you for saying so much of what I am feeling, but have been unable to put into words.

  15. Yes, as a white person, I share my shame as written on my blog politicsbahhumbug
    It will take the white community,along with others who have been discriminated against to begin this fight against hatred! You gave them a way to do this. Thank you.

  16. Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

  17. Val, this is profound, it is moving, it is masterly. I hope it is read many times and re-blogged as often as possible..

    • Valerie, thank you. It took me days to find the way to express myself through tears and fury. I hope it is only read by just one person who turns heart, that would be enough for me truly.

  18. Notice the media hasn’t yet dubbed Roof a “terrorist.” I’ve scoured some of the news reports these past few days and I haven’t found that term associated with him. In the meantime, Texas’ idiot ex-governor, Rick Perry, called the Charleston shootings an “accident.”

    • I find this odd, too. Roof said he wanted to start a race war. Then he viciously killed people, terrorizing the nation as a result. How is that not terrorism?

    • The media is seeking an explanation for his behavior. They are ‘whitewashing’ him. Giving him an out. Many of those who would be king refuse to call this a hate crime. Fox continues to refer to it as an act against Christianity.

  19. It is real and exists.

  20. Yep, absolutely correct….the guy who did the shooting said he was “taking his country back”. I also blame talk radio and other media. They have been spewing such heated rhetoric about the Obama presidency, combined with fearmongering about black-on-white crime, and so this is what happens when you continue pumping ideas like that into a young person’s mind. But will those talking heads take any responsibility? Of course not.

    • I blame a failure to educate, a failure to control of our history and teach the truth from the beginning. Agreed the media is powerful, we need to shut down the BS, demand accountability.

  21. As I read, I learn … As I read, I feel chills down my spine and goosebumps on my skin. Yes, the white people have done this. I have done it by staying quiet. I … a minority member: female, Hispanic and member of the LGBT community. Quiet no more … I will stand up and call it for what it is …. hate crime, unspeakable hate, racism, terrorism.

    I can’t stand those that spin, those that look for excuses, those that don’t own it.
    No more … I stand up! #BlackLivesMatter …..

    There’s a lot this nation has to own up to!!

  22. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    “Where do you even begin?” … that is the question!

  23. It is time that we face up to the shame of our history.

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