There has been a lot of appalling news in the last two days, news of death and racism in a place that offered sanctuary to the very person who betrayed nine innocent people to their deaths. He sat there, basking in Mother Emanuel’s hospitality, and then opened fire. He came into a place that has traditionally been a place of refuge and basically defiled that sense of safety.
What can I offer to this conversation?
What words can a white woman add to make one whit of difference in the face of such monumental tragedy?
We are not made for fear, friends. We’re not made for despair. We’re made for so much more.
Events such as natural disasters, a child diagnosed with a chronic disease or health condition, a violent crime, a national crisis, these make us ask where the light is or what our society’s coming to. When brothers and sisters in a church are gunned down, it makes me ask where God was. Someone can try to answer that God was in the midst of the victims. Maybe He was. Maybe this evil man would have taken even more lives. What I know is that we need not fear one another, though we may not look the same. And people who are white like I am need to assert our voices in opposition to racism, be it overt or subtle. And if we fear that which we do not know, then it’s time to get educated. We need to know our history and acknowledge our implicit role in a system that has been discriminatory and has given whites advantages that we’ve profited from without even noticing.
What I know for sure is that God has not given us a spirit of fear.
Even when it feels like the fear is crawling up the back of our necks, even when it makes breathing hard, or makes a hard, cold little home in our chests.
God has not given us a spirit of fear.
That also means we can’t be afraid to wade into the conversation, afraid we’ll say something wrong or we’ll offend someone. If I come as a learner, asking to be invited to the conversation so I can listen and become aware, that’s an entirely different posture than coming in to negate someone’s position or make myself come of looking shiny and free from playing any negative role.
That said, we should hear voice of people of color who are living the experience. Please read what these good people are writing about the Charleston killings, and about the issue of race in the United States.
A’Driane Nieves curates amazing articles and pieces and writes about it here.
If you’re on Twitter, you can follow Deray McKesson.
If you want to “do something” to help Emmanuel AME Church minister to it’s congregation and continue its ministry in Charleston, you can consider donating to one of these organizations.
Let’s be in prayer for Charleston, for Emanuel Church, and for the families of these nine victims. And if you needed a soundtrack of inspiration, I’m leaving you with a throwback song that pops into my head whenever I think about not living in fear. Click here for musical fortitude in the face of darkness.
Be well, and live in freedom and love today.
Edited to add: this Amazing reading list , which comes from the African American Intellectual History Society website. Here’s their introduction of the reading list:
Here is a list of selected readings that educators can use to broach conversations in the classroom about the horrendous events that unfolded in Charleston, South Carolina this week. These readings provide valuable information about the history of racial violence in this country and contextualize the history of race relations in South Carolina and the United States in general. They also offer insights on race, racial identities, global white supremacy and black resistance. All readings are arranged by date of publication. This list is not meant to be exhaustive; please check out the #Charlestonsyllabus hashtag and the Goodreads List for additional readings.