We are angry. We grieve, mourn, weep. But we also choose to remember these dear sisters and brothers. Rest in peace.

Cynthia Hurd [54]

Tywanza Sanders [26]

Sharonda Singleton [45]

Myra Thompson [59]

Ethel Lance [70]

Susie Jackson [87]

DePayne Doctor [49]

Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr [74]

Rev. Clementa Pinckney [41]

[From Eugene Cho, who is a man i greatly respect and admire:  @EugeneCho]

i think it is strongly significant to start a conversation about the tragedy that happened when a young white guy [who shall remain nameless] walked into a black church in Charleston, South Carolina and shot and killed 9 of its members who were busy having a time of prayer. i don’t know any of those people, but taking a moment to recognise their humanness and the loss of their lives and taking a moment to think of their families and friends as well as the wider black community is an important thing to do.

We lament with America as America laments. And hope that once more it is not simply black America lamenting, but that all of us who are here right now are taking a moment to grieve and to consider the much wider implications of this moment.

i don’t believe my words are going to be of any use or carry any legitimacy here and so instead of sharing my own thoughts, i want to direct you towards some of the many helpful and truth-bearing posts that have been written to try and help Americans process yet another needless act of terrorism [for how can be described as anything less than an act of pure terror?] – there are many more, but these are some that i came across, and while i share snippets which carry the heart of the message that resonated with me, please make some time to go and read the full piece…

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What I need you to say in response to the shooting in Charleston by Osheta Moore

These are the critical hours that sets the trajectory of this new conversation on racism in America.   These are also the hours our helplessness rises to the surface and we’ll use our words to alleviate it.  

As a white person, you may have heard Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech and thought, “yes, that’s a nice sentiment.” That “nice sentiment” is a defining dream for the African- American community.  We don’t want to be angry anymore.  We’re tired of being afraid.  We’re tired of these headlines.  We want to have peace.  We believe, we dream of unity too.

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After Charleston: An open letter to white christians from a white female pastor, Liz Verhage, shared by Eugene Cho on his blog

I am grieving and lamenting and beyond angry over what feels like open season on the Black Community/Church right now in the United States.

White Christians, this is the time to pay attention and be part of our nation’s struggle to understand and address the continual violence happening against our black sisters and brothers. When one part of the Body hurts we all hurt – when one part of the Body is repeatedly targeted, killed, not protected, pulled out of swimming pools, seen as threats when unarmed – and then misrepresented, silenced, or made small through ahistoric excuses, side-stepping through political mess, or any other form of evil – we need to stand up. We need to show up – loudly. We need to demand a different response – and start with our people in the church.

Ask about this reality of race and death at your church – where will it be addressed within worship this Sunday?

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The Only Logical Conclusion by Austin Channing Brown

Within just a few minutes new reports started pouring in that the suspected shooter had been captured. As various officials were interviewed there was a resounding theme. “Safety has been restored.”

“Our community can now come together.”

“Now the healing process can begin.”

“The threat is now over.”

Though I understand what these officials meant. I want to say that safety has not been restored. I am glad the suspect is in custody. I really am. I am glad for the country, but I am mostly glad for the community of Charleston and anyone that was afraid their home, church, community center or neighborhood might be another target. But my gratefulness does not extend far enough to create any sense of safety. For the next few weeks, maybe even months, black churchgoers will not feel safe because we know the threat is not over.

Though the weapon is the same, gun violence, this is different because the driving force was white supremacy, this act the epitome of racism, the goal to kill black people. The level of terror that black people feel in America at this moment cannot be underestimated. Because when the driving force of such a massacre is the very thing imbedded in the roots of America, thriving on the branches of generation after generation, sitting in the pews unchallenged every Sunday morning in white churches- there is no reason why black Americans should feel safe.

Every time I write about race, someone white says “just know it isn’t all of us,” believing this will bring me comfort. It is offered as balm, but fails miserably. I would much rather people say, “I see this sin in my own heart, my own life, my own church and I am working to uproot it. I don’t want to be this way, and I will do the work to submit this ugliness before Christ.” That’s what I want to hear. Creating distance from it doesn’t serve me, doesn’t bring me comfort. Because it is in all of us. White supremacy has infected all of us who know America. If I have to deal with the white supremacist notions within myself, than I don’t want to hear about how “its not all of us”. It is. It is all of us who must learn to love blackness as an equal and authentic image of God.

I wrote on twitter that every church in America should be talking about this shooting on Sunday. But you know what? My real fear isn’t that churches will ignore the shooting. My fear is that churches will underestimate it. I fear that it will alter one Sunday’s plans and nothing else. I fear that the words will be reduced to one lone shooter, to one silent moment, to one prayer. I fear that it will change nothing about every Sunday thereafter, that it will inspire nothing of lasting significance, that no one will make a declaration to kick racism out of the pews. My real fear is that this moment will slip by just as so many others have, that white churches will refuse to see their own reflection. Or that they will and simply turn away.

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Mark Charles, who is a Navajo man i greatly respect had these words to say which i feel go way beyond this incident and address the conversation as a whole. A lot of which relates to us back in South Africa and some of the conversations we are still needing to have:

I lament that our nation continues to celebrate its racist foundations with holidays like Columbus Day, sports mascots like the Washington Redsk*ns and the putting of faces like Andrew Jackson on our currency.

I lament the words of our political candidates who promise to lead America back to its former “greatness”, ignorant of the fact that much of America’s “greatness” was built on the exploitation and dehumanization of its people of color.

I lament that today the dominant culture in America is in shock because in the city of Charleston South Carolina one individual committed a single evil and heinous act of violence, while minority communities throughout the country are bracing themselves because the horrors of the past 500 years are continuing into their lifetime.

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i was also deeply moved by Jon Stewart’s opening monologue on The Today Show where he dropped the jokes and spoke from his heart some agonisingly truthful thoughts:

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Even, and maybe especially, to the language and the imagery that the media uses to give completely biased and racist renderings of different events that happen, painting them with different brushes to pursue an agenda:

shooter

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White people in Americaland. Let’s begin with what Osheta suggested:

 I’m sorry. I’m listening.

And then let’s show up at this conversation and be prepared to own what we have inherited in various forms and systems and places. And let’s be prepared to get our hands dirty. And to become uncomfortable. And for this to get a little [more] messy, but for us.

Charleston 9 – we remember you…

[For an example of how we remembered Charleston, click here]

[For a variety of other conversations relating to race and privilege, click here]

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