Naming the Horror–Racism

This unimaginable horror–perpetrated by someone so steeped in racism and racial hatred that he identified with South African apartheid as well as the Confederate States of America–perpetrated by someone who killed nine people after sitting with them and praying with them for an hour …

This horrific act has opened the wound that lays bare the racism at the heart and soul of America, a racism that expresses itself in ways large and small, from little daily indignities to state-sanctioned murder, that makes African-Americans fear for their lives whether they are running an errand to a convenience store, playing in a park, or praying in a church.

Words cannot express the horror, not only the horror of these acts that take place on a continual, relentless basis, but the horror that is at the heart of our nation, our society. But words are what we have, and we have people who can give expression to the horror at the heart of our nation, and the horror that it is to live as an African-American in this nation.

Among those words that have moved me in the past two days:

from Osagyefu Sekou:

They were killed because of their love. They welcomed a stranger and gave him a home as he plotted their demise. This is the best of black church — unconditional love. To love in the face of white supremacy is nothing less than a revolutionary act.

From Stacia l. Brown:

When we doubt, the friends who believe alongside us are often the light that keep us drawing nigh, lest we float away. We hold onto them when horror rushes in. We remind them, “Whatever you do, don’t let go of the Word.” In that moment, they are the Word in motion. And if we must die, for welcoming the troubled white supremacist 21-year-old whose boyish face looks as innocent as the brain behind it is wicked, if we must die for praying alongside him, if we must continue waging a war as unfathomable as it is unseen, there is no one better to be with in the end, than the people who kept us feeling closest to God when we felt farthest away.

From Broderick Greer:

There is nothing isolated about the violence exacted upon black people by law enforcement officers, vigilantes or terrorists. When police officers or extrajudicial neighborhood watchmen shoot dead descendants of this nation’s formerly enslaved population, they are recommitting themselves to the white American tradition of squashing out black life at every juncture possible. Over the past three years alone, I’ve learned that – in the social economy of white American supremacy – black people can’t walk to a convenience store, ask for assistance after a car accident, play with a toy gun or study the Bible without the looming reality of the violent white gaze.

and Jon Stewart:

“I honestly have nothing other than sadness that once again we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other and the nexus of a gaping racial wound that will not heal yet we pretend doesn’t exist. I’m confident though that by acknowledging it — by staring into — we still won’t do jack shit.”

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