Charleston Lord, Charleston
Updated: Sep 13, 2019
On the morning of Thursday, June 18th I logged on to my social media accounts while I was on my way to work. I scrolled my Twitter timeline to find that another mass shooting had happened. I knew without even having all the details that the gunman was a young White male. I knew because I didn’t immediately see a name or a face. I didn’t see the words terrorist or thug being used to describe him. White supremacy had once again covered a murderer. I scrolled some more to see what other information I could find. I saw the letters A.M.E. pop up and my heart sunk. I looked for more details on the mass murder.
On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, a 21-year-old White male entered the historic Emanuel African Methodist church. He asked for Rev. Clementa Pinckney. He sat next to him for an hour during a prayer meeting. He then got up and started shooting. He reloaded his gun five times.
There were 13 people in the church at the time. He killed nine of them. Six women and three men were murdered. Their names are as follows: Cynthia Hurd, 54; Susie Jackson, 87: Ethel Lance, 70: Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney,41; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45; Myra Thompson, 59.
The murderer said at one point during the rampage, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” This is a typical racist, White supremacist vigilante justification for the fear, hatred and extermination of Black people. It also enrages me.
What is America saying about the humanity of Black people when the youngest African American ever elected to South Carolina’s legislature can be gunned down in the oldest black church south of Baltimore?
This 21-year-old White male murderer is the face of American terrorism. He has been for over 500 years. We must say that, unapologetically. We must hold White supremacy, its advocates and its beneficiaries accountable for the ceaseless acts of terrorism against Black people in this country. If we do not, Black people and people of color will not be at peace in this country.
Although I know all of these things, it still hurts me. Each time, it hurts. What were the last words, feelings and thoughts of Ethel, Susie, Daniel, Myra, Cynthia and DePayne? After all they had experienced in 50 plus years in America, they lost their lives at the hands of a racist White male in their sacred place of worship.
It makes me wonder what my experience will be like as an older Black woman in this country. It doesn’t make me hopeless. It does make me less hopeful.
It is imperative that we all do the work to eradicate hate, fear and ignorance, whatever they may look like in the world. As long as I live I will do this work. No matter how heavy my heart may be throughout this fight. I will carry Pinckney, Hurd, Sanders, Middleton-Doctor, Jackson, Lance, SingIeton, Thompson & Simmons with me as long as I live. May they rest in peace.
It is my duty to fight for freedom. I have nothing to lose but my chains.