Denmark Vesey is one of my heroes. He was about resistance. He resisted the title of slave, freeing himself after winning a lottery. He educated and gave hope to other Africans to remember who they were, despite the harsh, enslaved conditions being experienced in South Carolina. He despised weakness and walked with agency. He united many enslaved and free Africans toward mutual goals of brother /sisterhood and self-determination, by any means necessary. Vesey organized a massive African uprising against slavery, white racism and oppression in 1822. He rejected our status as slaves, victims, and abominations. He was lynched and then shot for his efforts, along with many other brave Africans who rose up. Why am I talking about Denmark Vesey? He was one of the founders of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina that was attacked last night.
This historic place, deeply rooted in the upliftment and emancipation of African people in the Americas and the Caribbean, was the target of an intentional, premeditated, timely hate crime last night, the most recent of thousands of vile hateful events since Columbus sailed the ocean blue and invaded this nation. At this historic AME Church in South Carolina, nine African-Americans have been murdered by a young white male. This was intentional. This was not an isolated event of a lone white man, crazed and just confused. As many of these hate crimes are (though the media and power structures would like us to believe otherwise to keep us contained and controlled), this act was rooted in the history and fabric of this nation. This has been taught. This message of hate has been given loud and clear. This is a racist nation and those people who have been on the losing end of it already know it. It’s a privilege not to see it. We as “civilized” Americans want to believe otherwise and explain it all away because that feels more comfortable, more civil. However, to ever get to the root of these actions, we have to be honest. In less than 24 hours, I have already heard the media undertones of “Please don’t act a fool black folks. Please don’t rebel, uprise, and revolt. Please just see this as a gun issue. Please just see this as a mental illness issue. Please see this as an isolated event. Please continue staying in your place. Please allow the legacy of hate and terrorism towards and on black bodies continue as it has since we arrived in this nation. Please forget that it is 2015 and remember that we are post-racial now. Please remember it’s not all about race. Please just pray on it and wait for happiness and fair treatment in the afterlife because God will give you your just desserts.” No. No. No. I’m not listening to those distractions, to those outright lies, and to intentions to subdue my spirit and nullify my common sense. I have to tell you who I am. My spirit is rooted in resistance just like Denmark Vesey and the many others who came before and after him. Just because I may not walk with a gun doesn’t mean my mind and pen aren’t pulling the trigger on hate just like Nikki Giovanni and Claude McKay. I am fed up. “We” all are. I can assure you of that.
We must, all people in this great nation, see this recent terrorist act in South Carolina as emblematic of a larger, not isolated, issue that has been firmly established in America and no amount of MLK holidays will assuage this bitter, deplorable fact. We must begin holding our nation accountable and stop with the PC niceties and blanketing and “whitesplaining” and misdirection that only feed the beast of racism. We must communicate our hearts. We must be allowed to be human. We must be truthful about how this nation has been designed and who that keeps oppressed and who that keeps in power. We must see the complexity in it all. We must be willing to dismantle it. And we must do it together and in love, even when it hurts. We must ALL resist the institution of racism that gives birth to these “isolated” events. It’s all connected. If not, we will be exactly where we are – in pain, confused, angry, and divided. Rest in peace and power to the victims. I am praying and plotting. Pressed to the Wall Dying but Fighting Back, Tina