The trifecta of hate manifested in one domestic terrorist solely intent on killing black people – and succeeding – in an unsuspecting, welcoming, historic Charleston church.
The Charleston murderer (won’t say his name: #NoNotoriety) was a proud, unabashed white supremacist, armed with a weapon to kill, and did just that. By adding Charleston to the long, sad, horrific list of American mass shootings, the entire country is now talking about racism. Not guns. But racism.
Which is a good thing.
Especially in white America, where the conversation has long gone unspoken.
What can we do, those of us sitting on our lily white asses at beautiful parks or beaches or where no one is shot for buying skittles in a hoodie? What do we tell our teens and college kids when they hear racist comments everyday and feel the need to say nothing? “It’s just a joke.”
What can we do about something so horrid that happened way down south where the confederate flag still waves in the faces of those it oppressed and brutalized? What should we do, what obligation do we have, sitting here in white, or at best, beige middle class suburbia?
Here’s what I’m going to do about racism. Maybe it’ll just be me, this nobody, but I sure hope you will join me.
We can start talking and call out insidious racist comments made by anyone in our presence. Anyone. I’ve called out people before, usually in a joking, kidding fashion. I have a reputation for not being able to ‘take a joke’ or ‘she doesn’t get it’ or ‘better not say this in front of Kate’ or ‘you know how she is, miss PC and all.’
“I’m not a racist, but you gotta admit …”
I have called out people for racist comments, but I’ll admit it: usually people I don’t know or don’t like all that much. And usually with a friendly, but persistent, tone. I let others slide, not sure why some get a pass; probably because they’re old, or stupid, or uneducated. Or they’re a friend. Colleague. Neighbor. More likely, I don’t want to rock the boat, be that person, cause problems, ruin the party. So I laugh uncomfortably. Roll my eyes. Walk away and remove myself from the situation.
It all stops.
I’m not going to let you get away with “you’re not going to like this Kate, but it’s funny.” I’ll no longer to remain quiet in the bleachers when you racially profile the other team, or parents, or town. I’m not going to awkwardly change the conversation at a party. I’m going to boycott your store when your employee mistakenly tells me: “gotta watch that one” eyeballing a brown customer with a knowing head nod. “You know how they are.”
Because I know all right. I know who you are and what you are. You are racist. No but about it. Your racist implications and comments have never been unnoticed, just ignored. By me. By everyone.
Don’t tell me watch out for that kid (whispering…THE BLACK ONE); it’s a shame my daughter likes dark meat; it’s not fair your kid didn’t get the internship because he’s rich and white; insist your kid stay out of the kitchen because the ‘Ricans are there; ask why we go to the ghetto beach; point to the black kid at the pool and ask, who’s he?; comment about the black kid with the white family, the white kid with the black family – it’s time people. It’s long past time. Love is love. Supreme court said so.
Because what’s not fair is the growing list of dead people because of the color of their skin. And I for one feel complicit with my compliance.
Not fair? Too sensitive? What’s not fair are too many given permission to continue to spew innocuous hate and too many of us letting it fall on deaf ears and saying nothing.
Speak up. Speak up for Charleston. Speak up for all of us.
YES!!! This is what it takes. This is what will help change.
I understand this so well. I’ve been getting better at calling people out on their bullshit…but it’s not always easy. It is necessary, though.
Even if just a disapproving eye roll, or mean mom stare, anything to stop the forward momentum of hate. Thank you kindly for the read!
Well said! Racist jokes and comments need to stop, and we need to speak up and show that they won’t be tolerated. Thank you for the inspiration and challenge.
Thx so much for the read Laurel! when we stop being silent, more folks will be apprehensive about sharing their offensive thoughts, and with time, perhaps stop. Or so that’s the plan.
I am so blessed to live with and around people who don’t see color. Most of my friends have served missions and actually set aside 2 years to serve, live with and love people. My sons lived in Costa Rica for 2 years they would never say anything about Hispanic people except how much they loved them, my daughter served in the poorest parts of Ohio, a dear dear friend is in Kenya serving on a children’s hospital. The best way to understand and then love people is to serve them. Before their missions sports provided the perfect way to not see color. My kids were judged more harshly because they didn’t drink! The reason charleston broke our hearts so terribly is the reaction of the families. Forgiveness. Forgiveness always softens our hearts. Don’t worry about America, we are young…we are growing…but we are good. Believe that, believe we are good.
Making your world bigger than your own community is a brilliant move to combat hate and promote tolerance. And I SOOOO agree about the sports, it’s a great way to build empathy, compassion and tolerance. Thank you so very much for your generous words!
Brilliantly expressed Kate! I couldn’t agree more!
Thanks for the read, the kind words, and being such a good human. xo
Keisha | The Girl Next Door is Black
“Speak up. Speak up for Charleston. Speak up for all of us.”
Yes! Say it loud and say it again!
I also refuse to name the killer when I write about what he did in Charleston. He doesn’t deserve to be named, but the 9 people he killed do deserve to be remembered.
Great post, Kathryn!
Ahhhh, my friend from the bus! Thx for the visit and read. Check out http://nonotoriety.com/ (on FB as well) about pressuring media to not name killer, and instead focus on victims. It’s an amazing campaign, started by incredible families that have lost so much. I am so glad to have met you, and hope you are walking taller with each and every post.