Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thoughts on Charleston

War Mother, Charles Umlauf*
Twitter (and occasionally Facebook) has become my preliminary news source, particularly for the slew of gun violence, police brutality, and unjustified killings of black people that have recently occurred in the United States. These outlets often don't tell the complete story, just a spattering of details and an overwhelming amount of opinions stained with outrage, frustration, devastation and sympathy. And also, unfortunately, indifference developed from a loss of hope. 

Last night, right before bed, I scrolled across a few tweets with the hashtag #Charlestonshooting or #Charleston. Those tweets expressed exasperation and predicted the media's characterizations of the then-at large young white male suspect. There had been a shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, but I refused to enter it into a search engine. I was afraid to, already (selfishly) tired of hearing about another horrible event, another death, another example of racial discrimination and prejudice and ignorance. I felt/feel tired and these events have not happened to me directly. Not in my city, not in my neighborhood and not to my family. However, indirectly, they affect me and they very well could touch my personal circle. Because that's what being visibly black in America is about, I guess.

How could this not be motivated by race? A white male enters the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a Wednesday night prayer meeting and opens fire, killing nine people, then flees. People he does not know. People who had no objection to his presence there--it's a church, open to the public, to all kinds of people of different backgrounds and upbringing. He's in custody now and as of yet, I don't think we know about the details of his motives, at least not directly from his mouth. It's easy for me to say that the motives don't matter, as long as justice is served, but most people want to know why. We can suspect why. But would a confirmation of the why mean anything? If he said to the public that he intentionally entered this church, out of hate, to shoot at black people, would the outright racists and misguided moderates of the country believe us then? 

Only this morning did I seek other, more "reputable" sources to learn about what happened. And I felt like all my thoughts needed to be spit out. I don't usually contribute to the dialogue on social media when things like this happen because I wouldn't be helping anything, I would be draining myself, and I don't even know what to say. Instead I read what my outspoken, enlightened and outspoken acquaintances on Facebook or strangers on Twitter post or share. Then I drain myself another way by reading one too many comments. So I think I should just pray. Keep myself informed and pray for Emanuel AME, for the families who have lost loved ones, for South Carolina, and for the judicial systems.

*Reflects my response to this shooting and so many other events across the U.S. 

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