A week that began with public grappling with race as absurdity has concluded with shock, yet again, with race as the catalyst for tragedy. The existential question of who is black has been answered in the most concussive way possible: the nine men and women slain as they prayed last night at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, South Carolina, were black. The people for whom this new tableau of horror is most rooted in American history are black as well. The people whose grief and outrage over this will inevitably be diminished with irrelevant references to intra-racial homicide are black people. There are other, more pertinent questions, not all of them answerable. The most immediate: Who did this? Was it the act of an individual or was it an organized effort? What motivates someone to commit such monstrous acts and how do they rationalize such evil? How much longer can we live like this?
Murders in Charleston, Jelani Cobb
…it’s easy to see why violent racists would single out black churches. They are major institutions for black Americans, vital sites for religious life and civic engagement. They’ve nourished activists, produced leaders, and provided a foundation for the long struggle against discrimination. They’ve been schools, training grounds, and safe havens. Even today, they’re often the nucleus for political efforts in black communities around the country, from “Souls to the Polls” in state and national elections to organizing around local issues and concerns.
A Living Landmark, Jamelle Bouie
Here’s to the wildly unrealistic hope that the next time it’s moved, it’s taken down. But we know, of course, that it won’t be. This breed of racism is the state’s origin, a strand of its DNA: South Carolina was the first state to fly a Confederate flag over war-captured territory, its slave-loving, red-white-and-blue banner marking the official start of the Civil War at Fort Sumter in 1861.
“Sen. Pinckney was an icon in Charleston and an icon in Columbia and the state Legislature,” said state Rep. Peter McCoy of Charleston. “He’s a guy that I’ve always looked to, always looked up to, in terms of always being morally sound and loved by his community.”
Think about what happened. Think about why it happened. Talk about what happened. Talk about why it happened. Do these things, over and over again. The country must resist the temptation present in anesthetic innocence. It must reject the false comfort of learned disbelief and the narcotic embrace of concocted surprise. There is a ferocious underground fire running through American history. It rages unseen until it flares again from the warm earth. It has raged from the death of Denmark Vesey in 1822 to the death of the Reverend and state senator Clementa Pinckney on Wednesday night.
These Are The Victims Of The Charleston Church Shooting, Jessica Simeone, Ema O’Connor, Tasneem Nashrulla
Emanual AME Church