In the aftermath of the senseless violence that continues to plague our society (the mass murder at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in Charleston), I find it imperative that we address overt racism, as it was the cause of the murderous rage.
Racism is defined as “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races”. The truth is that racism is an illogical belief that stems from fear of the unknown. It comes from innate insecurities that are exploited to keep dominance over groups of people. It is a self-imported belief that a group is more deserving without any justifiable basis. It is part of American culture.
In a place that is supposed to be considered a sanctuary (a church), lives were tragically lost based on a delusional concept of black dominance. The fear of black persons taking over the country, despite being a minority, statistically, caused delusional ire. This shooting wasn’t based on a legitimate or imminent threat, as killing those individuals does not lead to the extermination of the black race. While black people may be a minority group, nine people hardly depletes an entire population. Nevertheless, this shooter, felt that killing those innocent people was a way of somehow stopping the raping of white women and the dominance that he felt black people had.
This act of terrorism, which is what it was, was committed from a position of undeniable superiority. The privilege that is bestowed upon the majority where they feel that however they choose to deal with minorities is their prerogative. This mass murderer felt the confidence to sit in the black church, with the black congregation, because he could. He could walk into a black church, go undisturbed, and cause havoc.
Is this incident isolated? Absolutely not! This incident is part of a growing epidemic of vocalized and expressive racism from individuals and State Actors. Police officers in several states have killed, harassed, unarmed blacks and minority people, repeatedly, with total impunity. There are so many cases that a multiple series book can be written; therefore, all cannot be addressed in this article. However, some are worth mentioning.
In Texas, a bunch of minority kids were invited to a pool party. The neighbors became fearful of the “intruders” and called the police. The mere fact that there were Black, Asian, and Hispanic kids gathering in a predominantly white neighborhood was enough of a crime to warrant police presence. The police officer (who was acting like someone on drugs, rolling on the ground, exhibiting weird conduct) can be seen sitting on the back of a black young girl as she cried and pleaded. A white man is seen standing around not even caring at all. This now resigned police officer sat on her back, in view of cameras, because in his mind this is what was wanted – get rid of the “animals”, “the garbage”, the “wasteful trash”. In his mind, she wasn’t equal to him; she didn’t deserve any humane treatment because she wasn’t important. Who would care if he treats “garbage” that way, right?
When Michael Brown was murdered, a fund with thousands of dollars was raised to support the Officer who killed him. He got a better payday after killing Michael Brown, than he likely would have made in 10 years as a police officer. The basis for killing Michael Brown was because he was a black kid, the enemy, who wouldn’t comply with the more than entitled police officer. He was killed in broad daylight, no concern about traumatizing the community, and his dead body was left there for hours. No ambulance was necessary as they just threw his lifeless body into a truck. After all, he was sub-human right, a thug, and a criminal? This officer was never charged.
In Carolina, an Officer shoots and murders an unarmed black man who had outstanding child support. After shooting and killing a non-violent man in the back, the officer then planted a Taser (I think it is fair to say that this was not his first Rodeo). The officer shot him because he could and likely can as long as there are no cameras. If there were no cameras, the headline would have been “another courageous officer who had to use deadly force on an inner-city criminal who attempted to assault him“.
Eric Garner – “I can’t breathe”, begged for his life as the police officers applied more pressure to a man that was suffocating. What was his crime again? Oh yeah, he was selling untaxed cigarettes. After he was dead, the officer simply did not care. He showed absolutely no concern for this man, human being, lying there dead on the sidewalk,. The officer actually taunted the camera. But, why should he care – it was only one of “them”? He was never charged.
A self-proclaimed neighborhood patrolman kills Trayvon Martin. When he saw what he believed was the stereotypical black “thug”, (you know them, the ones with the hoodies and boots), his racist radar went off and he assumed that he had the right to question this “thug” about what he was doing there. He eventually kills Trayvon in what became a very controversial case. Ultimately he was acquitted of murder, despite no legal basis for him to use deadly force. But why should he be convicted of this murder as he was just protecting the neighborhood from an unarmed black “thug”?
As much as we would like to romanticize about the equality and acceptance in this country, it simply is not true. For Example, when a black person is murdered in the inner-city, whether engaged in violent activities or not, they are immediately classified as an inner-city and/or Urban person. Henceforth, the perception becomes that this person is not worthy of the same sympathy as a person from the suburbs. Code words are usually used to describe the victim – “drug-ridden neighborhood”, “mean streets”, “crime-ridden”, “gang activity”, “poor neighborhood”, “Urban”, “thugs” etc.… We are inundated with images of what black people should be viewed as – typically it is stereotypical. Black people are seen as hoodie wearing, gun carrying, drug using, drug dealing, lazy, welfare candidates. When an exceptionally talented black person emerges, like MO’NE Davis she is glorified as an enigma to the general group of “losers”. However, that elevation and glorification serves to mask the fact that racism exists (“well, I can’t be racist because I like that Mo’Ne Davis girl”).
When there is crime in the suburbs, different code words are used – “All-American Kid”, “All-American Family”, “Safe Middle Class neighborhood”, “Hard-working family”, “Quiet Suburban Neighborhood”, “Quiet Suburban Street”, etc.… It has been ingrained in our minds what the image of the “all-American” means, which does not depict minorities (in reference to minorities, “he/she was kind of like the All-American kid”). The media ensures that the images that are portrayed about black criminals vary greatly from how white criminals are viewed. After this mass murder, the shooter (whose name will not be mentioned here) was described as, “troubled”, “a loner”, “disturbed”, “unhappy”, “confused”, “depressed”, etc.… very long way from “Thug”.
The mass murder in the AME church was not isolated or enigmatic. This was symbolic of a greater problem. The belief that black people are somehow inferior and less deserving of basic human rights has now manifested itself, consistently, in murder and carnage. Blatant entitlement and the belief in Black inferiority allows such conduct to occur. Black people are projected as inherently violent, which creates irrational paranoia and fear. However, what is true is that you will rarely find a Black person who will be a mass murderer, school shooter, and/or serial killer, those titles typically are reserved to other groups.
There will be marches, protests, outcry, for roughly a few weeks as the story fades and we wait for the next catastrophe. What we can be assured of is that there will be more murders of innocent black people. It may not happen tomorrow, but we can be sure that it’s coming. People will ask for legislation, which clearly will not work unless the minds and hearts of people are somehow magically changed; racism is incurable. It’s ingrained in our culture. It is so pervasive that we black people have learned to deal with it. We get angry about it, but who cares what we think. The helplessness we feel when it happens, because we know we have no recourse, encourages us to simply adapt and accept. We have been programmed to believe that we are undeserving and that we should just be content. We have learned that justice and equality for us is mostly an illusion.
As a person who feels compelled to speak up about injustices, it is imperative that I say something in the wake of this tragedy. I am tired of hearing these stories. I am tired of seeing people murdered senselessly. I am tired of feeling helplessly angry. While I do not believe that ALL people are racists in the US, racism does clearly exist and is pervasive. Let’s call a spade a spade – racism is alive and well. We MUST start by acknowledging that it exists before it can ever be eradicated. MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON THE SOULS OF THE VICTIMS!
Hatred is not something we are born with, it is taught.
STOP THE HATE!!