If you are friends with me IRL or online, my political leanings are not in anyway hidden or tamped down. They rarely have been. I’ve been opinionated and passionate about politics for almost forty years (true story). There are many of you who do not agree with me politically about very much. Typically, we just avoid confrontations with each other, because the relationship adds more than it subtracts. I’m grateful for those friendships.
In the last two weeks, I’ve unfriended about six people for remarks about Caitlin Jenner and/or Charleston. Yesterday, I had to BLOCK someone I’ve known for 30 years. He called me a “race-baiter,” because I insisted ON THE FACTS that the person who committed this crime STATED CLEARLY on several occasions that he hated black people. There really is no ambiguity in his motive. The person I’m no longer associated with is a minister in SC. I assure you, usually I try to forge bridges, but that bridge was no longer safe for travel.
South Carolina is my home. I love it through and through. My entire family has been there since we came over the ocean. I return as often as I can. Those mountains and waterfalls are in my bones.
Friends and family in SC, I urge you to get very vocal and very visible about what kind of state you want to live in. I am very, very proud of my heritage and find lots of ways to honor it. I don’t need a hateful symbol to represent my heritage. My heritage is bloody, sure…complicated and there should be no sugar-coating the vicious racist past (or present).
Coming to terms with our own ongoing internal racism is a LIFELONG effort. You don’t wake up one day and not be racist anymore. That isn’t how pervasive ideologies work. They seep into structures and into our subconscious realities. They must be actively expunged over and over again. It is exhausting and painful. And if you are an ethical person (religious or not), you have an obligation to engage. There is no ambiguity here either.
When President Obama won the SC Primary. I wept for hours, proud that my state had come so far. I want to believe that there are enough South Carolinians ready to be in the street in solidarity against white supremacy — its symbols, its heroes and its “innocent” jokes and remarks. I need to see you white friends and family. I need to hear you confront this head on.
In one elementary school I attended in SC in the 70’s, we celebrated Robert E. Lee’s birthday. The narrative (and pride frankly) concerning the secession of SC is a strong one still. I grew up with it and it was as normal as fried apple pies. In my own home, my mother (and Sesame Street) worked hard to instill a love of diversity. I was raised to believe that racism was sinful and evil. To dishonor a child of God was to dishonor God. I am very thankful for my mother. She modeled the love she espoused.
I’ve been wrestling with racism — what it means, how it is propagated, where it lives in dark corners, for most of my life. Every time I think we’ve rounded a corner, it seems we are right back in the dark.
Friends and family…please be in the light with me. Let us form a chain of hands extended back in to the darkness. Let us pull one another from the corners. I beg you.
Jon Stewart once again verbalizes where many of us are in the country. Lord I’m going to miss him.
Tweets of note:
From my immensely talented friend Herb Williams
Must reads in my view:
Great roundup here, a lovely piece by my friend Jennifer Bailey, Washington Post gives an in-depth look at the victims and the unfolding situation, a helpful Storify from my friend Jessica Luther about talking to our white kids about racial violence, a powerful plea to the white community, and finally a piece I read several times, because it resonated with me.