What is the word to express how I felt when I opened my laptop to see that nine people were killed at a Wednesday night Bible study? What word can describe the sorrow that washed over me as I saw the release of the victims’ names and thought about the lives that hate cut short? Is there a word better than unsurprised? Frustrated that hate once again rears its ugly head? Angry that I live in a country where someone can harbor and act upon racist ideology with lethal force in a sacred place?
I am weary.
I’m weary because I am black, I am an American and I’m a human being who is tired of seeing a world in which other humans harbor inexplicable anger toward a group of people for looking different.
I spent a lot of Thursday on Twitter retweeting folks who captured the frustration I felt after the church massacre in Charleston, S.C. late Wednesday night. I didn’t know what to say. Do I have a place to say anything? I’m just a food writer and oven reviewer, for crying out loud. But I’m a human. And I have a platform. And this is the time for the weary among us to step up for Clementa, Sharonda, Cynthia, Susie, Ethel, DePayne, Tywanza, Myra and Daniel.
Racism is real. It is both subtle and overwhelming. It’s hiring managers passing you up for jobs because of the “ethnic-sounding” name on your resume. It’s store managers following you around their business because of the color of your skin. It’s strangers assuming that you are an unwed mother. It’s sitting by as someone tells a racist joke. It’s not telling authorities that your roommate is planning a shooting spree on a group of innocent people. Racism ranges from inconvenient to deadly with lots of gray areas in between.
For my white allies: Recognize racism. Call it by its name. Acknowledge that racism and unequal treatment didn’t end with the Civil Rights Movement. Identify your own prejudices and ask yourself why they exist. Stop accepting casual racism by remaining silent. Have the tough conversations with your kids about how adults can hate other adults just because they look different. Empathize with someone who doesn’t look like you. Try to imagine the pain and frustration and weariness, and feel all of that, too. Use those feelings to propel you to take action.
For my black folks: We can’t just survive. We must thrive in the face of domestic terrorism. We might be weary, but we are resilient, too. Centuries of struggle have taught us to keep pushing. We must succeed in spite of hate. And we can’t let hate build and fester in ourselves.
I’m tired of being weary. You should be, too.