We were already heavy-hearted. Worn down by near daily reminders that black children can’t be children. And that neither they nor adults are above suspicion. We can never do things that are believed to be the birthright of every red-blooded American. We can’t go to pool parties. Being in swimsuits doesn’t reduce the perceived threat. We can’t play with toy guns. We can’t pick up a toy gun in a store and continue shopping while walking with it. The right to bear arms has a color line.
An attack on any house of worship is a moral affront and a horrendous act against our national ideals. But when a black church and its parishioners are targeted for murderous hatred, the terror it unleashes on African Americans grips those of us with a casual reverence for the Almighty with the same intensity as those passionately praise Him from their favorite pew. For the black church is the foundation of our strength and the hub of our history. Attack one church, slay one parishioner and you wound all of us.
No doubt Dylann Roof, the alleged murderer of nine souls in Charleston, knew this. That he allegedly said, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go,” adds to Roof’s racist rap sheet. That he reportedly sat in the church for an hour before unleashing hell on the congregation, that he let a woman live so that she could tell others what he did attests to his evil. That Roof was captured alive gives me some solace. He will endure the rage of a nation for the rest of his sorry life.
“Where can we be safe? Where can we be free? Where can we be black?” Nowhere, it seems.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj