Open Thread About Race

The news cycle for the past six months has been about race. Ferguson. Baltimore. Dolezal. Charleston. I am not the person who should be weighing in on these matters, though I have read tons of commentary. I’m not even sure if “race” is the only lens for these events. Charleston may be more about access to fire arms, than race.

Wendy requested an open thread.

6 thoughts on “Open Thread About Race

  1. TNC is very good, as is Charles Pierce; a number of friends have quoted from this piece in social media.

    Easy access to guns plays a role; the history and current politics of South Carolina play roles; as does pure crazy.


  2. Pierce: “…What happened in a Charleston church on Wednesday night is a lot of things, but one thing it’s not is ‘unspeakable.’ We should speak of it often. We should speak of it loudly. We should speak of it as terrorism, which is what it was. We should speak of it as racial violence, which is what it was.

    “We should speak of it as an attack on history, which it was. This was the church founded by Denmark Vesey, who planned a slave revolt in 1822. Vesey was convicted in a secret trial in which many of the witnesses testified after being tortured. After they hung him, a mob burned down the church he built. His sons rebuilt it. On Wednesday night, someone turned it into a slaughter pen.

    “We should speak of it as an assault on the idea of a political commonwealth, which is what it was. And we should speak of it as one more example of all of these, another link in a bloody chain of events that reaches all the way back to African wharves and Southern docks. It is not an isolated incident, not if you consider history as something alive that can live and breathe and bleed. We should speak of all these things. What happened in that church was a lot of things, but unspeakable is not one of them. …”


  3. I don’t know how I feel about this Jon Stewart clip:
    My problem was the part where he observed that we will do anything, indeed, overreact, to threats from outside our country, doing everything we can to fight terrorism such as invading countries and sending out unmanned drones to kill people, but we won’t do “jackshit” in the US to fight domestic terrorism.
    And maybe I am a crazy social libertarian, but … I don’t want to do the things we do in Iraq/Afghanistan to US citizens, even if it means stopping racial violence. I was really uncomfortable with the implication that domestic terrorism should be fought in similar ways to foreign terrorism. They are two very different things, plus I don’t even like what we do to fight global terrorism.
    I was just reading something that pointed out that Stormfront is linked to a lot of hate crimes (and I wouldn’t be surprised to find the Charleston murderer there) and the friend who reposted it on FB said that the solution to this is obvious. Um, not to me. I am not sure I want to censor speech or take down a website.
    I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t want the response to this horrible act to involve the government doing horrible things, because I don’t see how that will help.


  4. 1) I think a lot of people want to believe that anything is about anything but race. I think race pervades a lot of politics, decision making, laws, and beliefs in this country. That isn’t to say our views and understanding haven’t changed enormously since 1822, or 1865, or 1965, but that we are not in a post-racial world. I think the shooting in Charleston was about race (as well as easy access to guns).

    2) I do not believe that nothing will change. I think change is slow, but that changes do occur, and they occur with vanguards changing the way people think about things. Some states have been chipping away at the edges of gun access, tightening loop holes and oversight of gun users and holders; I myself am personally far more aware of the number of children who die after gaining access to the guns belonging to family members (a Facebook feed will do that). I think laws will continue change on guns, and on race.


  5. I’m finding this all very difficult to think about, though of course I am reading all sorts of things, mostly through other people’s FB feeds. Yesterday I spent way too much time getting mad at Peggy Noonan, who marshalled all of her eloquence to describe the responses of the victims’ families beautifully, but then closed by accusing anyone who talked about race or guns of “making it political.” Which of course was a political move in itself.

    A friend of a FB friend (who I won’t cite, since I’m not sure if it’s really appropriate), wrote this:

    “I commend the forgiving families of the 9 victims of racial terrorism. But that is not for us to celebrate, to ooh and ahh over. They are unjust victims, not curios. Thus, I am discomforted by the coverage in forgiveness. Their forgiveness should spur us on to end racial hatred in our country so that the Charleston Massacre does not happen again. Let’s be sure our fascination with others’ forgiveness does not mark our privilege, but let it gear us to be in solidarity . We celebrate when racial terrorism is dead in this country.”


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