Photo: Associated Press

Photo: Associated Press

I just keep watching and reading about the church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina.

Even if this stood alone, it would be awful beyond words. But to see the deep pain of old wounds opened fresh takes my breath away.

I see people angry and tired and hurt from being told if they just “act right,” they won’t be harmed, rightfully ask how much more right they have to be, than in a church prayer meeting.

I see people who desperately want our country to be “post-race” try to isolate this incident to one mentally unstable man.

I see articles where friends claim that the murderer wasn’t “necessarily racist,” he just liked to tell black jokes. I don’t think we’re working from the same definition of racist.

I see folks with memories longer than mine flash back to a place they very much wanted to forget.

I don’t see calls for white leaders to proclaim that all white people don’t condone shooting up churches. I don’t see people asking where the leadership for young white men has fallen away.

I see commentators willfully bumfuzzled that this is called a hate crime. As if it could be called anything else.

I see all of this, and in many ways, I don’t know what to say. Or at least I don’t know what to say that would be of comfort.

This feels like one of those times I’m in the outer rings of pain. (See: ring theory) It didn’t happen to me or my town. It didn’t happen in my church or even my denomination. The victims don’t look like me, but the terrorist does.

He did this in my country. And “he” could have happened anywhere here. Because hate is not isolated, as much as I want it to be.

So this is me, not really knowing what to say, sitting down next to the people closer in, handing you a tissue.

I want you to know that I’m here. I want you to know that I’m just going to sit here for a little while and be quiet and still and let you say whatever you need to say until you feel heard and seen.

It’s not much to offer. But maybe if enough of us sit down and listen to each other, then things might start to seem a little less bleak than they do today.


2 thoughts on “Charleston

  1. Beautifully written, Kerri. This is my state and we all proudly claim Charleston. Ironic that this occurred in what has been chosen as the nation’s friendliest city time and time again. And I was more troubled to learn that the shooter attended high school just a few miles away from my home.

    Like you, I agree that if we all stopped to listen to others, we’d find we are far more alike than we are different. And that’s a good place to start to find healing.

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