My brothers and sisters at Emmanuel AME in Charlotte are gentle and loving souls, but they also represent the weakness of a Black community that — though its very survival has been tenuous since it arrived on American soil and is constantly under attack — does not prepare itself to deal with the war that is being waged against it.
For example, what was needed immediately following the terrorist murder in Charlotte was accountability, not forgiveness. Again this act did not occur in a vacuum. This was not some crazed psychopath, but someone crazed by racial hatred. This society needs to be held accountable for the climate that allows for this kind of terrorism.
I don’t recall anyone in power asking for forgiveness for allowing the seeds of hate to continue to fester and ferment in this society. The Black head of the government wasn’t looking for forgiveness, but was busy trying to call this a problem of gun violence rather than racist terror. Oh, and according to the government, this racist act of terror doesn’t fit the definition of terrorism.
The South Carolina governor framed it as people not being safe in places of worship, and so has much of the right wing. The right wing continues to try to paint this as a strike against Christianity. The impetus to forgive is a good one born of a good heart. However, it is a dangerous thing to talk about forgiveness in a society set on your destruction.
White America should have felt a sense of collective consternation, rather than being forgiven and let off the hook. They should have had to think long and hard about their part in what happened. Instead they have quickly gone back to business as usual, because after all we are forgiven by the nice Black people.
And notice all of the news services — conservative and liberal — rushed to play this forgiveness narrative over and over ad nauseam. Notice how the big-business press tried to make the point that Charleston, and thus all of Black America just rolled over and forgave the killer and the society that enabled him.
Forgiveness is not something that is to be given cheaply, rather wrong/evil has to be called out. The Christians in this case should call out the evil that this was and the evil behind it, and demand that their government do something about the propaganda and conditions that nourish it. I heard people talking about being heartbroken, but who cares if you are not moved to do something.
And these people were indeed victims. The young man who said his aunt wasn’t a victim meant well. I know he meant that his aunt was a great and beautiful person. But you can’t tell a society bent on victimizing you that your relative wasn’t a victim, because she was victimized by that which has been victimizing us since we got off the boat.
The Bible implores us to love one another as ourselves. Your first responsibility is to love yourself and loving yourself and your kind means standing up and defending yourself. Lying down in the face of others trying to destroy you is not love. If the truth is told, it is a form of cowardice.
We must be honest, we live in a society that does not want to admit that it is organized around White Supremacy and capitalism, and uses both to divide and rule. Unless pressure is brought to bear, John Stewart is right, absolutely nothing will change and absolutely nothing will be done. Don’t take my word for it, read the newspapers and watch the corporate news.
The good liberals at CNN all day have been trying to put this in the context of “gun violence” by putting this racially motivated massacre together with violence that occurred in two cities last night. They even put this terror attack in the context of the Aurora Colorado killings and the Newtown tragedy.
Notice how those foxes made sure to point out that the community was not focused on retaliation, but reconciliation, and how the press highlighted the part of the sermon in which the preacher assured our enemies that rioting wasn’t on our mind. Notice also how they showed him praising law enforcement.
Right on cue, law enforcement types appeared on CNN talking about more stop and frisk. The Charleston mayor talked about the proliferation of guns. These people will do anything to keep from talking about the real issue: racism in a racist society. But again, that makes sense. Why would I want to call myself out?
This is why it is so important that we remain vigilant, demand accountability and not give this society an easy out.
Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Mel Reeves has a blog fighthepowerjournal.com and welcomes reader responses at firstname.lastname@example.org.