Illustration by Sarah James via Design Mom
It’s been three weeks. Three weeks since nine lives were senselessly and tragically taken in Charleston. Three weeks of mourning and thinking and debating and arguing. Three weeks of everyday, normal life for me and three weeks of a real life nightmare for nine families in South Carolina.
It’s been three weeks. And I thought that maybe since I’d waited this long, I might as well just let it be and not write anything about it. Because, it’s over and done with–right? People are done talking about it and on to the next–right? And as soon as those thoughts crossed my mind I knew that those were the exact reasons I wanted to write about it. Because we aren’t done talking about it. Because I want to remember.
I want to remember Rev. Clementa Pinckney. I want to remember Tywanza Sanders. I want to remember Rev. Sharonda Singleton. I want to remember Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor. I want to remember Ethel Lance. I want to remember Myra Thompson. I want to remember Rev. Daniel Simmons. I want to remember Cynthia Hurd. And I want to remember Susie Jackson.
I want to remember them and I want to make sure that we keep talking about why they died. They died because racism is alive and prevalent in our society. Racism permeates every single aspect of our country. It would be so easy for me to say that I’m not racist, that my friends aren’t racist. But we are. We all have a bit of racism ingrained in us. That doesn’t mean that we are to be blamed for these murders. But these murders are just another reason that we all need to remove our heads from the sand and start making changes.
Monday, the Senate in South Carolina voted to remove the Confederate Flag from the State House. It moves to the House for a vote and after it (hopefully) passes, SC will take another step towards eradicating symbols of racism. It’s a good step. A step that was a long time coming. And I was elated to see major retailers following suit and removing items that bore the flag from their stores.
But it’s not enough. There’s a lot of work to be done. The best work we can do as white people is to listen, understand, and take action to help our black brothers and sisters. Being an ally doesn’t simply mean sitting around and agreeing with what’s being said online or on your TV. It means engaging with someone in a conversation about why their jokes are racist and shouldn’t be told. It means marching in our cities and protesting inequality. It means reaching out to organizations and people in our communities and saying “I don’t know what to do but I want to do something.”
There’s a lot to be done. I’ve got just as much work to do as anyone else. But if we stop being scared of saying or doing the wrong thing, we’re much more likely to actually make a change. Being silent helps no one.
A few links to help you learn more and find ways to help:
– A good conversation about why so many white people are remaining silent
– A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming an Ally to the Black Community
– An honest plea for ideas on where to start–and an incredible out pouring of love from the black community.
– Less of an educational resource and more of a “gives you all the feels” link–President Obama singing Amazing Grace at Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s funeral.
And I’ll end this by saying that I’m certain I said something wrong in this post. But the best I can do is simply tell you that I’m hurting for the black community, I’m hurting for any communities in our country that don’t feel safe to simply live their lives and be themselves. As one blogger I admire, Jess Connolly put it, I am physically safe but I don’t feel safe in a place were my neighbors don’t feel safe as well.