By now, almost everybody has heard what happened in Charleston, SC. It's all over local and national news and when you walk into work (if you haven't already) there's a good chance somebody will bring it up. For those not in the know, a white gunman walked into Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, sat for an hour in bible study then opened fire, killing nine people, including the senior pastor of the church who is also a SC State Senator, Rev. Clementa Pinckney.
Social media erupted, understandably, with the fact that some outlets took a really long time to acknowledge that he was a white gunman even after it was confirmed. Others are curious about how killer will be portrayed in the media: will he be a thug like so many Black individuals who act out of frustation are villified, or will he get the "good guy who made some bad choices, who is obviously mentally ill" treatment.
For me, my first thought was…in a church? In 2015? People are still taking aim at the church?
Church killings, bombings, arson, are nothing new for Black people. Historically, the Black church is where most activities happened in our communities, especially in rural areas. Destroying Black churches by white hate groups like the KKK was pretty common place in the 1800s and even early to mid 1900s as race relations and tensions sizzled. You can test a Black person's faith, but you can't shake it though.
But in 2015, a white gunman (UPDATE: identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof) walks into a Black church and opens fire? You're not even safe in a church anymore? Whether you're religious or not, the church is a generally a respected entity in any community, especially the Black community, hence the early destruction of so many of the churches as a means of hopefully destroying communities.
Then again, I'm also expecting too much of people in a time where saying #BlackLivesMatter gets misconstrued as SOMEHOW having anything to do with tearing down another racial group. You can't even care about being Black or the fact that Black life seems to be under attack nowadays without it being an affront to the white power structure. Shit, if we don't keep saying that Black lives matter, who will? Police tactics are finally being shown for the domestic terrorism a lot of them are and even THEN its an uphill battle for justice.
There is no justice, just us…as the saying goes.
In a church though. In 2015. If revered institutions like the church aren't even respected, where are we safe? I'm glad the police chief is referring to this as a hate crime without even knowing the motive for the killing (UPDATE: It's definitely a hate crime). A random white man walking into a Black church and killing nine people? That's hate. It's Charleston, SC, I'm sure there are churches all over the place. You can't throw a rock down South without hitting a church. This man picked the one of the oldest Black churches in the South to exact some sort of…whatever. I don't know his mind or motivation. It just makes me sad. And angry. A group of people went to church Wednesday night for bible study or a prayer meeting or whatever and never made it home.
That angers me.
Prayer meeting. On a Wednesday night. In a church.
Unfortunately I can't even say that I'm surprised. I'm disappointed, but not surprised. Which saddens me further.
I'm not quite sure what to really say else, so let's just make this an open thread because I know we all have thoughts and feelings.
Thoughts? Feelings? Speak on it, VSB.