Charleston, 6/17

Chaédria LaBouvier

A White terrorist literally just walked into a church, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal and shot it up. He was a coward. He joined them for Bible Study, the prayer circle, knowing they’d be unarmed. Knowing that despite the history of White people legislating hate and the continued epidemic of the police using Black bodies as target practice, that he’d be welcomed into the Black church.

But the news will say he was “mentally disturbed”, a “shooter”, but not a terrorist. Why? Because he is White. But he’s not just White. He is a terrorist — and we need to say it and think it for exactly what it is.

Some of you get mad, get offended and defensive when I call White America out for its apathy, its hate and its historical terrorism of Black people. But I do not have the privilege of “tuning out” when Blackness is under surveillance at every moment. I don’t have the privilege of “giving it a rest” or “talking about something else”. There is no other way to see this. We can’t breathe. We can’t wear hoodies. We can’t go swimming. We can’t go to Walmart. We can’t play in parks. You tell us to be non-violent and pray — and be like Martin Luther King, the non-violent man whom White supremacy blew to smithereens — but yet, you follow us into those houses of worship, spilling them over with your violence. We can’t live. This isn’t the first time. There’s a long thread of White supremacy terrorizing Black churches. 16th Street Baptist Church. The 37 Black churches that burned from 1995–1996. Rosewood.

All of the policy in the world will not change what White America in and of itself must: yourselves. Stop asking Black people to be non-violent. Please begin asking your cousins, your fathers, your brothers, your uncles and sons and daughters and aunts and mothers to be non-violent. Stop ignoring their ignorance, their hate, their cultural tone deafness in efforts to be “nice” and to “keep the peace.” Your “peace” is killing us, literally. Your “peace” is violence and it is a silent, deadly killer. Stop telling us that we need to “improve” Black America. When will White America improve White America? When will you be more responsible and do your part in healing White America? It is burning itself up with hate. What will you do about this, White America? And let us be extremely clear: this violence exploding across this nation is not America’s problem. It’s White America’s problem. And because Whiteness sits atop our national hierarchy in every conceivable way, that problem disproportionately affects everyone else and becomes our problem. Please do something. We are literally dying, while you consume our culture, our music, our food, our labor, our slang, our bodies and now, our prayers.