It was a normal day in Charleston. It was a normal day in Florida, in Baltimore, in Staten Island, and in Ferguson. That's precisely what makes the racial violence that takes place in this country so horrifying -- it happens on a normal day. Violence happens when black girls go to pool parties or when black boys are walking home from school. This violence is happening everyday. However, the greater American public refuses to acknowledge that racism is rooted in these violent acts.
This week, Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historically black church, lost nine people to the hands of Dylann Roof, a white man. White people across the country are appalled. How could a shooting take place inside a church? However, the focus has largely formed around the physical location of the shooting rather than the people who lost their lives. In fact, people are focusing on just about anything else: the mentality of the shooter and the problems with current gun laws.
Though both mental health and gun regulation are immensely important topics, we are using these issues to ignore the blatant racism of this crime. Recognizing racially motivated violence would admit to white hate and to white violence. It would acknowledge white crime in a society where evil vs. good has been made black and white. It is much more comfortable for white America, for me, to ignore the intersections of race and violence that continuously take place in our own backyard.
When we ignore these intersections, we ignore the narratives of our black neighbors, coworkers, and friends. When we view their stories as isolated, rather than connected, we make them invisible and deny them of their humanity. To invalidate the lived experiences of black people is to continue to dehumanize a group that has been marginalized for so long in this country.
White privilege is being able to discount a terrifying narrative that is a reality for so many black people. This privilege allows me to turn off the TV when stories of racial violence come on. It means my parent's never had to train me to act a certain way when dealing with the police. It means I don't have to check how close my house is located to the nearest hate group. It means my skin is the norm and I don't have to think about much, unless I choose to.
Choose to. The only way we can see change is by listening to and believing in the narratives of people of color. So, engage with your community. Start asking questions. Actively search for the answers. It will not be a comfortable process because it is never an easy task to question your world. We can redefine what a normal day looks like in this country.