I don’t want to write about the white gunman that shot up a black church down in South Carolina, killing nine people. I’d rather just not blog at all today. But I’ll admit that I would totally write about it if it was a black gunman murdering white churchgoers, so I have no other honorable choice here but to try to express myself on the subject.
For anyone who’s curious, my main point is the same as if the color details had been reversed.
Let me start out by being blunt: This is a tragedy. It’s a stupid, pointless tragedy. And yes, it was racially motivated. The sole survivor of the massacre says the white perp specifically said, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go” before opening fire.
My first thought after reading that: Sounds a whole lot like something the KKK used to say as an excuse to lynch black men back in the day.
So I’m not saying this wasn’t a vile racist act. The shooter deserves the death penalty for ending nine lives and devastating so many others. There are families and friends who are suffering the loss of their loved ones right now because some white moron generalized all blacks.
But let me stay blunt. Fixating on the racial aspect of this crime as a greater societal issue of white-on-black violence isn’t going to do anyone any good. It’s just going to make it worse.
We focus on race so much these days. The news is filled with stories about white cops killing black men or throwing black teenage girls to the ground or the First Lady talking about how discriminated she’s been all her life because of her skin color.
Yet did you know that most crime is either white-on-white or black-on-black? Rather like shark attacks, interracial violence makes the news BECAUSE IT IS NEWS! It’s not the norm.
And beyond that, how has all of the focus on Trayvon Martin down in Florida (who was killed by a Hispanic, by the way, not a white), of Michael Brown out in Ferguson, Missouri, of Freddie Gray here in Baltimore, Maryland… how has any of that done a single bit of good for race relations? How has blaming all white people and victimizing all black people helped anyone?
From my position down here in Baltimore, all it seems to be doing is hurting more black people. Our murder rate has shot up since all the white-cops-killed-unarmed-black-man nonsense (even though the white cops turned out to be black and white cops, and the unarmed black man turned out to be a career criminal); and it ain’t white people getting gunned down in the streets.
So if we really want to protect black people – or here’s a novel thought: all people! – then how about we try a different approach. Like, I don’t know, promoting individual growth and responsibility instead of group shaming or group victimizing.
You never know. We might be pleasantly surprised at the difference it makes.