What do I say? What do I possibly say?
I just keep thinking about the adults draping themselves over the bodies of children, playing dead so that whatshisnameisIdon’tcarewhathisname is doesn’t kill them. I keep thinking about how the families, spouses, the lovers, the children of the people murdered, mostly women, feel. What I would feel if my mother, my husband, my dearest friend was murdered at church and I wouldneverevernotinthislife see them again.
I just keep thinking about the moments before they died, the horrible moments he sat there, knowing he was going to kill them. He thought it was inevitable, but it wasn’t–he made a choice during every moment.
I just keep thinking, I want to believe that this will galvanize white people, make a lot of white people believe that racism is real, that the price of accepting it is that black people die, but I just keep thinking we had 400 years to galvanize, we had Emmett Till, and two Martins, an X, and a lot of whys, why did this happen, why did we let this happen? Why?
We let this happen because we don’t care enough to make it not happen.
We’re whateverhisnameis, sitting on the pew, acting like it’s all inevitable but it isn’t inevitable.
In the generation since the abolition of chattel slavery, we have eradicated smallpox, we have built the combustible engine, we have created goddamn Twitter. Nothing is inevitable. We live in the world that our priorities built. We lay the bricks every day.
My great-grandmother remembered the first time she could vote legally in 1920. Five years later the KKK was the ruling party of my home state because people voted them in.
A generation before my great-grandmother cast her ballot, the idea of women voting was a punchline in the funny pages. Three generations after the KKK got control of the General Assembly, the idea of publicly running as a member of their group was political suicide. But none of that was inevitable. We decided as a country that women voting was acceptable enough to put it in law and that naked white supremacy was unacceptable enough to quietly push loud public white supremacists out of the business of making laws–at least, some of the time.
When will we decide that public policies and traditions and ways of thinking that result in the disproportionate rape, incarceration, and poverty of black and brown people is unacceptable? When will we decide to see white supremacy not as an aberration, but a cornerstone of the house we built and live in? And when will we finally dismantle the house?
What can I possibly say? Except that the murders of State Senator Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, Tywanza Sanders, Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, the Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., and DePayne Doctor were not inevitable and nor are any future deaths.
It’s our choice.