i think almost everyone can say that the last 4 days or so have been incredibly rough, even if you’re not in charleston. i’ve spent a lot of time writing angry screeds and occasionally crying. but my emotions, i’m certain, pale in comparison to the kind of grief and anger those who have lost their loved ones in the charleston murders and those who feel the effects of racism and white supremacy on a daily basis. you can know a lot intellectually about white supremacy; you can read all the history books and the critical race theory literature. but when something like this happens, you can see for yourself the human cost of this kind of terrorism.
just one of the many urgent issues to be addressed is how the conversation about charleston is being framed and its connection to white supremacy. white people, specifically the media, get to determine the way these stories are told. but right now, we need to hear black voices. the only useful thing to come out of the violence that’s been perpetrated recently (and make no mistake, this has been going on since america was founded) is that it is compelling a lot of people to look at their own privilege and see how, collectively, we are complicit in a racist, patriarchal society. white america has to start unlearning the racist narrative we’ve bought into, the one that maintains our personal power and upholds systemic systems of oppression. we can discuss, but we must also act. now is the time.
i wrote this comment below in jezebel’s comments section in response to someone’s “not all white people” argument.
fellow white people, repeat after me:
“this is not about me.”
“this is not about how white people are wronged.”
“i’m not an oppressed person.”
“i am not colorblind, because colorblindness when it comes to race isn’t actually a real thing.”
“the anger of african-american people is justified and i have no right to deny it.”
“asking black people to heal not even 24 hours after 9 people were killed in a church is inexcusable and inhumane.”
“from now on, i’m going to shut up and listen to the voices of black people and not insert my experiences, or claims that i have black friends and that makes me okay, or liberal white guilt.”
“from now on, i will do the work to educate myself about racism in all its forms and not expect or demand that people of color educate me.”
“from now on, i’m going to challenge my own beliefs about racism on the *systemic* as well as personal level.”
“going forward, i will call out white people who say racist things. i will call myself out when i say racist things or act in racist ways. i will not expect people of color to do this for me.”
“i will recognize the humanity of people of color. i will acknowledge that they are human beings with feelings and fears and desires, just like me.”
i can’t really apologize in any meaningful way for how white people have oppressed people of color for hundreds of years. but i can dedicate myself to checking my privilege and doing the legwork of educating myself, not expecting people of color to continue to educate me about racism. we can’t continue to expect black people to break it down for us. we need to keep pushing ourselves. and taking part in any social justice movement doesn’t mean we speak for black people. it means we shut up, listen, and act in practical ways to support this movement. it means feet on the ground when they’re needed. but it also means letting the voices of people of color to be heard ahead of our own. we’ve been talking for awhile now.
this just broke while i’ve been working on this post. police have discovered dylann roof’s website. he posted a manifesto and a ton of photos with guns and racist items like the confederate flag. if you’re denying this is about race, you were wrong before and now you are truly, truly wrong and need to rethink this shit.
this second thing just broke. the FBI director, james comey, just announced that they are not considering the charleston massacre an act of terrorism, but are proceeding with investigating it as a hate crime. as my friend stephen said, #shocked. i guess you kill white people, it’s terrorism. never forget. you kill black people, it’s a hate crime. we’ll let the news cycle wash it away now. if you need your daily dose of white supremacy, read this.
i’ve read some incredible commentary on twitter and facebook and the rest of the internet. i’ve picked out just a tiny fraction of what’s out there and posted it here. i’ve also included a couple of foundational critical race theory texts that i believe we could all benefit from reading.
remembering the victims of the charleston murders – i put this at the top because we truly need to remember them and think about the human cost of racism.
remembering the 6 black women who lost their lives in the charleston shooting – again, we need to remember and think about the fact that the majority of the 9 killed were women.
the 9 heartbreaks of charleston – a simple article on some of the reasons charleston is so heartbreaking.
black lives – and churches – matter – there are basically no safe spaces for black people.
dylann roof’s judge has a history of racist remarks – he should absolutely be recused.
why the mental health of dylann roof doesn’t matter – excellent article about the pass white men get when they shoot others.
today’s value of 40 acres and a mule – which, by the way, was never given to black people, although promised. hashtag reparations!
the deadly history of “they’re raping our women” – an excellent, succinct history of the black male rapist trope.
white supremacy on my mind: learning to undermine racism – this article is very much worth the read. and make sure to take note of the texts he references in the piece. they are also worth your time.
white privilege: unpacking the invisible knapsack – this is required reading. it’s a fairly short piece with a great, easy to understand metaphor at the center. if you read nothing else here, read this.
#charlestonsyllabus – some professors started a web page to collect a bibliography of texts being suggested on the twitter hashtag. this is a very rich resource. i will probably comb through it for my own reading. thank you to everyone who compiled this!
free PDF books on race, gender, sexuality and class – a fabulous bibliography here as well, and you don’t even have to spend anything. (i suggest you do buy these texts, though, as many come out on small presses and we need more of those!)
theorizing transitional justice – this is just the end of the essay; it discusses what structural injustice is and what structural justice might look like.
dylann roof and the stubborn myth of the colorblind millennial – excellent commentary. this is a great excerpt: “As Politico’s Sean McElwee put it, the data that’s out there ‘suggests that millennials aren’t racially tolerant, they’re racially apathetic: They simply ignore structural racism rather than try to fix it.’“
on being white… and other lies – james baldwin always nailed it. another succinct, incisive essay.