CHARLESTON, AND AMERICA, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!
Gary Norris Gray – BASN – Staff Reporter
On Tuesday, June 16, the nation joined together to watch the conclusion of the (NBA) National Basketball Association Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. All races joined together in competition and celebration in compiling the highest television ratings for the Finals in history. The next night, this appearance of racial harmony was destroyed by the shooting of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, allegedly by a young white male fueled by racial hate. The undercurrent of racial tension in this country can no longer be concealed, and must be confronted. America needs a National Discussion on Race and Violence.
The Charleston Church murders have prompted the usual arguments assigning blame to failure to control guns; liberals vs. conservatives; drugs; parenting; declining values; lack of respect for life; the Confederate stars and bars still represented in the flags of several states, and flown over the South Carolina State House; and whatever other themes politicians and partisans may seize upon. These are all parts of the picture, but to seize only upon just one or a few of them is to miss the over-arching problem. The problem is Race and Violence in the United States.
President Barack Obama stated the killings occurred in part because the shooter had no trouble acquiring a gun. Critics have characterized this as a political play for gun control. But the President went on to state that “we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.”
We must see that we are a violent country, internally, and that this violence now, in 2015, not 1860, is too easily and too frequently imposed on people of color. A church shooting in 2015 is too reminiscent of the Birmingham church bombing of 1963, 52 years ago, in which four Black girls were killed as they changed into their choir robes. The bombing had occurred a week after the Birmingham School District were ordered to integrated, and just more than two weeks after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. How far have we not come?
The bombers were members of the Ku Klux Klan. One was prosecuted and convicted in 1977; two others were convicted in 2001 and 2002, and one had grown senile over time and was incompetent for trial. The prosecutions had been delayed for years because of local resistance to bringing the cases to trial and later difficulty in obtaining evidence from (FBI) Federal Bureau of Investigation files in the federal investigation of the bombing.
In an interview with New Yorker writer David Remnick, President Obama has said he was hesitant to answer questions about race more fully or with less caution because a harsh or intemperate word about race could affect the political temper of the country. Thus, the President acknowledges that race is a powder keg, which could be set off by the slightest of sparks, but about which he, the leader of the Free World and the Commander in Chief of the most powerful nation on the planet, cannot speak freely. He, who can order deaths in foreign countries, is not at liberty to speak about deaths at home, for fear of setting off an explosion here.
If the President will not speak, we must. The powder keg is in fact being set off, bullet by bullet, death by death. The silence is killing. The President’s fear of an explosion speaks to the urgency of having a national discussion on race. If we are that close to a blow up, and shots are already being fired, we must talk about it.
It has been reported that the Charleston shooter asserted to his victims “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country.” Is this the belief of one deranged killer, or a group to which he belongs, or a more widespread hostility? Why is there such hate and fear? What is the basis for it? What is the response? What to do about white guilt and black anger over the remnants of slavery? What is the antidote? To get the answers, we need to ask the questions. We must discuss this.
Why do we have police who are members of white supremacy groups? Why do we have an inordinate and more frequent occurrence of shootings of Black citizens by that same police force? Remember that it is only the one percent of rogue policeman who are creating this problem. 99 percent are heroes and work hard every day. Yet it was in North Charleston, S.C., where an officer was charged with murder in April for the shooting of an unarmed black man fleeing from what began as a traffic stop.
Why are citizens afraid? Why are police afraid? Of what and of who? Are citizens defiant and disrespectful? Are police hostile and reactive? We must talk about it.
The discussion is greater than Us vs. Them. It is greater than the prison-industrial complex and its need to fill prison cells. It is greater than the gun lobby and its desire to hold and sell guns. It is greater than the military-industrial complex and its desire to fund a never-ending passion for international violence on people of color. These are all aspects of the problem, but they are not THE problem. THE problem is race. We must talk about it. We need a National Discussion on Race in the United States and we need it TODAY.
The United States government has failed people of color time and time again which has created this problem. 1.) Native Americans were pushed west on reservations and forgotten. 2.) Japanese-Americans were put in internment camps during World War II and never given their property back 3.) Thousands of African men, women, and children were forced to come to the United States and into servitude for life. For African Americans the playing field is still not level. This is the racial legacy of the United States of America and we have to discuss this.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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