an open letter to charleston
The brutal murder of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina this week has left the world stunned.
The massacre is now being called a hate crime and police have arrested and charged 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof with nine counts of murder. The victims, (all ranging in age from 26 to 87), were killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historical building that became a pillar and refuge to the black community during slavery, its abolishment and the civil rights movement.
Authorities say the accused prayed with the victims in the church for nearly an hour before opening fire.
To say this heinous act has left the world in a state of anger is an outright understatement. On the heels of violent protests that have come in response to the police killings of unarmed black men, racial tensions in the United States have been poised to boil over for months. Weeks ago when writing about the record number of killings in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, I alluded to a point that would push these tensions over the edge.
Charleston just might be that tipping point.
Although the killings of men like Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Freddie Gray have been painful, what’s happened in Charleston is almost unbearable. Painfully reminiscent of the church bombings in Alabama that killed four little black girls in 1963, (a comparison I drew almost immediately upon learning the attacks were racially motivated), the attacks in Charleston have shown us a new level of evil.
This crime has left many of us outraged, shocked, disgusted and hurt. But for me, I just feel tired.
Very, very tired.
When the president of the United States is black but yet African Americans cannot even find safety and peace within their own churches, I can’t help but question humanity as a whole. Within the last year, it seems as though the scenes of injustice that have been our lives have suddenly been put on a sick and twisted fast-forward. No one can tell me otherwise when I say it has been one thing after another. But yet when we march peacefully in protest, we’re looked at as intolerant and when we lash out in anger that has been building for decades, we’re labeled as thugs and criminals.
It appears as though with every step of progress we make, we somehow find ourselves pushed back at least three.
I don’t want to write about Charleston. In the midst of all the chaos and pain, I have no words to articulate the emotions our community is feeling. I didn’t- and still don’t- want to spend my time venting my frustrations and pain only to have the world tell me I’m overreacting, playing the race card or simply that my feelings are invalid.
The sadness and anger I feel is too deep and this time, I will not allow anyone to take that from me. Charleston, I stand with you but I cannot write about you.
I’m tired of asking questioning and failing to find answers.
I’m just tired of being tired.
Feature image ©Chris Wieland