Friday, June 19, 2015

My Weekend Contemplation

The shooting this week of nine innocent people at the historic black church in South Carolina says more about our country than most people want to admit. And our response to it will say the rest. Despite the endless squawking on cable news, this despicable shooting in Charleston is not confusing. There’s no mystery to why this horrible act of violence occurred. Racism and guns. That’s why. The only mystery is why we don’t do more to fix it.

This idea that your race/gender/faith/class/sexuality/etc. is better than any other and entitles you to anything is taught is must be untaught. The mindset that you are superior to others and should have power to control their bodies and lives is one that comes from an ingrained sense of privilege. It comes from living in a system that has this principle in the foundations of its most revered institutions.

To pretend that this mass murder by yet another angry white man is just an example of one troubled, lone wolf is to be willfully ignorant. To pretend that our country’s open and easy access to guns has nothing to do with the epidemic of mass shootings is to be willfully ignorant.

Racism (as with every other –ism and –phobia that plagues our culture) is not a mental illness, it’s a learned behavior. We can unlearn it, we just need to will.

The world can be so complicated. We can get caught up on our dramas and our grievances and our jealousies and our hatreds. But it should be so simple. Live and let live. Work hard and be nice to people. Just do right. As the late, great Dr. Maya Angelou would say, it is up to us. Happy and peaceful weekend, all.


Scamp said...

"Racism and guns. That’s why."

I'd add testosterone to that recipe for American hatred and violence.

voltairesmistress said...

I suspect you are right, Dorothy, and that is why the U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation of this mass shooting as a possible hate crime. But I also think you are wrong to write a public piece describing this incident as definitely a hate crime, definitely motivated by racism. We simply don't know for sure, but we probably will have this confirmed once the investigation is completed. Until then, it is irresponsible to describe your intuition as fact.

pecola said...


We know.

When the shooter walks into one of the most sacred churches in the African-American religious tradition, having bypassed, literally, thousands of other churches on his 100 mile trip to Charleston and slaughters nine people, we know.

When a survivor tells police that the shooter stood over her, shouting racial slurs, we know.

When the shooter appears, in his Facebook picture, in a jacket bearing the flags of apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia--both of which have been adopted by white supremacist groups--we know.

When the shooter's car carries the symbol of the Confederate South on its front bumper, we know.

When the shooter's roommate tells authorities that for six months the shooter had been planning a massacre and wanted to ignite a race war, we know.

And, of course, when the shooter himself confirms those things to police, we can no longer feign ignorance.

This was a hate crime, based solely on the race of those parishioners. If at this point, you're unwilling to acknowledge it, you're living in an alternate universe, with Chief Justice John "Racism Doesn't Exist" Roberts and the GOP candidates for President.

voltairesmistress said...

Percola, I have not been following the story except for radio reports, so I had no knowledge of all the pieces of evidence you listed. And all day today I've been working, so not checking the news after about 9 am. Are those from confirmed news sources? If so, then the evidence truly mounts. But lacking confirmation, I like to refrain from saying things in print/online, even if I discuss them privately with friends and family. Anyway, I suspect you and Dorothy are probably right, and if all this gets confirmed, then I hope at least some good arises from this massacre. Seems like maybe all the outrage and coverage over Trayvon Martin and over police shootings has already changed our society's perceptions of what is appropriate force, how police should do their work, and why we have been turning a blind eye to the criminalization of black men. Hope this latest incident moves us to even greater changes.

Helena said...

As a South African it was very disturbing to see the old flag. That definitely stands for racism and oppression of people , the same as when you see the Nazi sign you know what it stands for. So this is a hate crime. Thank you Ms Snarker for your blogs - the sad and the good ones.

Anonymous said...


That job you were working at all day yesterday -- did it happen to be for Jeb Bush's presidential campaign? Because that's who you sound like. Congratulations.

Your friend, Rusty said...

Thank you for your measured response. It is perfect.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Dorothy. Powerful, concise, and so true. Racism and guns, not mental illness, not a lone wolf, etc.

voltairesmistress said...

To "Anonymous" a couple of comments above: I wish you would bother with a recognizable screen moniker, so that a discussion or a truest responsive conversation would be more possible. That said, while your snark and insults toward me might amuse you (or other readers), they really don't move difficult discussions about racism and other topics forward. I think a lot of readers don't comment on issues of race and racial terrorist acts like that in South Carolina because they see how the wind is blowing and don't want to contribute, only to then get blasted or flamed. Open, earnest, honest discussions amongst us, not shut-her-down insults, are an important part of influencing attitudes and re-making our shared society. I don't see how we can talk productively about race, racism, and terrorist acts, if we don't accord one another respect. Just saying . . .