The horrific massacre at Mother Emanuel last week is yet another reminder that we are not living in a post-racial society. The loss of nine innocent souls, including its charismatic pastor, Clementa Pinckney was truly tragic.The media is tripping over themselves not to call this a terrorist attack or a racist hate crime. Fox news is spinning the narrative as an attack on Christianity. Let’s call a spade a spade. The 21 year old racist targeted Emanuel AME specifically to “kill black people.” How much more evidence do you need? Our reluctance as a society to call it what is only speaks to our deep denial about racism in America.
America has been unrepentant in acknowledging it’s original sin: slavery. Therein lies the problem. Whenever I have a discussion with white colleagues on this topic, their response is always, slavery has nothing to do with today’s problem. My retort is, it has everything to do with our interactions today. We are seeing the vestiges of this evil institution play out almost on a daily basis in America. For example: Racial profiling by the police, police shootings of unarmed black men and women, being followed in stores, whites locking car doors when they see black men, black teenagers brutally handled at a pool party because racist white neighbors thought to many black children were someplace they didn’t belong. I could go on and on. You get the idea.
Connie Rice, the civil rights attorney was recently a guest on Tavis Smiley’s PBS program. She had stated that slavery is not taught in school, which is part of our collective problem in not acknowledging the racism that still exists. Ms. Rice shared a conversation she had with a white teacher regarding slavery. The teacher stated that she could not bring herself to teach the subject for fear of hurting the ego’s of white children. Ms. Rice has suggested teaching all aspects of the institution. Example: White Quakers along with other whites who helped hide escaped slaves.
If we look at the history of Emanuel AME in Charleston, SC it was founded by slaves as a gathering place where they could find sanctuary from a brutal and repressive institution. Most don’t know that slaves were forbidden from gathering in peaceful assembly because of the planters fear of slave revolts. One of the church’s’ founders, Denmark Vesey a free black man who bought his freedom with his lottery winnings was hung along with 34 others when it was discovered that they were plotting a slave revolt.
The Citadel was built almost immediately after this incident. The guns along the walls of the structure were pointed towards the black populace of Charleston. South Carolina has a long history of hatred and racism. They were the first to secede from the Union and fired the first shots of the civil war. They passed draconian “black codes” such as the Negro seamen’s act in 1827. This act required commercial and merchant ships to remand it’s black crew over to a local magistrate while the ship was in the Port of Charleston. If the captain didn’t pay a duty to the magistrate upon his departure, free blacks, who were often subject of the crown (England) were sold into slavery. We almost went to war again with England over this inane law.
This brings me to the subject of the confederate flag. People of goodwill are rejoicing in Governor Haley and Sen. Lindsay’s emphatic call to take it down. The Christian reaction by all nine families in the wake of such tragedy has called all Americans, particularly white Americans to reassess their feelings about race and the confederate flag. The south and it’s sons have been steadfast in their recalcitrance to take down the confederate flag. Those nine victims in death have elevated the conversation on love, faith, forgiveness and race. Their sacrifice has opened a new dialogue on race relations. My hope is that we as a people will heed the call to continue this dialogue.
This tragedy was the 14th time President Obama has had to address the nation after a mass shooting. The subject of gun violence has once again taken center stage. The NRA has put out ridiculous statements defending the second amendment in the wake of these horrific mass shootings. It’s as if America continues to live in it’s tragic version of “ Groundhog’s Day.”
The NRA is powerful lobby. The Republican’s pander to them and the Democrats fear them. They are a very powerful PAC (Political Action Committee) with deep pockets who keep tabs on how our elected officials vote on anything to do with guns, conceal and open carry laws. Therein lies the problem.
After the horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook where twenty people lost their lives, mostly first graders, I was convinced that something would be done on the issue of gun control. I was wrong. It’s doubtful that any gun reform will come of this shooting either.
After a mass shooting involving white males ( all of the shooters are white males) the narrative that the media trots out is the insanity argument. The NRA clings to this as well as to justify their position on being able to arm American’s to the teeth. If good guys can have guns then, we can shoot the bad guys with guns. That seems to be their insane mantra.
Let’s not kid ourselves, the nuance here is a white man’s right to bear arms. Arming people of color in mass, particularly black folks has been a nightmare scenario which dates back to slavery when slaves were not allowed to own a gun or a dog as a means of protection.
It’s appalling how violent our society has become. No other developed nation on earth has this problem. Until we get a grip on the tragic gun violence in our country we can not sit at the table with other civilized nations.
Dylann Roof is the poster child for justifying the death penalty. This is where the rubber meets the road. our justice system is ten times more likely to execute blacks for killing whites. The same can not be said for the opposite. In the wake of the forgiveness by the families of the nine victims. The larger black community may not be so forgiving if the shooter only gets life. If he is given just punishment for his crime, then and only then can he heal and move forward.