Oh America, you’ve provided the world with yet another reminder of your sordid history with terrorism against black people. I’ve explained to a few people over the last six months that while social media has brought to light the brutality faced by people of color, these things aren’t new. No, they are in fact very, very old. My brother and I, as well as everyone of color we knew, grew up being taught how to act just to appease white people. “Don’t say anything too controversial or they may get offended”, “Don’t wear this, style your hair like that, do anything that may make you stand out even more than your brown skin does, because it may upset them”. I’ve never been very good at behaving in the approved manner. This post will be a glaring example of that. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Last night a white male walked into a historically black church in the south, he was given admission into a black safe haven, he was welcomed. Then he killed nine people. People of color. People with ambitions, goals, and families. Stolen from their community, because we’ve yet to really address the issues with race that we have in this country. Instead, we hide behind the thinly-veiled lie of colorblindness and prayer. Prayer, America’s quick band-aid. My newsfeed this morning is alive with prayers for the families and community in SC. It’s the ultimate easy button. Why get involved? Why shine a light on the deeply disturbing history of terrorism against blacks, browns, and tans in this country, especially in their houses of worship, when you can just pray about it?
Does prayer actually solve anything, though? No, it doesn’t. Let’s look at it from a logical standpoint. By current Abrahamic theology, an all-powerful, all-knowing male figure that goes by the name God controls everything. Everything. From the patches in my yard that are brown instead of green to the results of sporting events. And that natural disaster? God did it. And those dead black bodies staining America’s history, God allowed those too. So, what are we praying for? For him to make it all better? To comfort the families who will forever be incomplete? For blacks to not lose their shit over another hate crime perpetrated against our community?
You can hit your knees and intertwine your fingers all day long. You can fill up social media with quickly pieced together prayer memes and a few sentences between your Instagram photos of your breakfast, but you aren’t actually doing anything. You’re patting each other on the backs for showing concern and then going about your day, while the black community gets another example of hatred to add to the box, another set of names for the list of brothers and sisters taken far too soon.
I know, I hear the grumbles starting, “But what can we do?” Get off your damn knees and seek out ways that you can actually DO something, that's what you can do. Don’t just sit there and say “I don’t know what to do”, look for things to do. If you can find all those cat pictures you share, you can also find ways to break down the centuries-long hate that built this country and is still neatly woven into the fabric of the flags everyone will be waving in a couple of weeks.
Reach out to your local NAACP chapter and other organizations in your community that work with minorities, and NOT while wearing blackface. Rally your church to do something other than offer up a moment of silence this Sunday. Challenge the people around you who will begin the cycle of whitewashing, providing every excuse under the sun why this happened instead of addressing the actual cause of it. Challenge the media outlets around you that have, and will continue to, describe the suspect as a “quiet young man who no one ever expected to commit such crimes”. Call out the glaring inconsistencies in police and judicial treatment when he is ultimately taken, unharmed, and given a supposedly fair trial that will paint him as a troubled young man who made a mistake instead of the hateful terrorist he really is. Even though we all know that if the shoe was on the other foot this is not how things would transpire.
Use your voice for something other than empty prayers that don’t impact the course of our society at all. That's what YOU can do.
Copyright(c) 2015 Rayven Holmes