Nearly 170 years after Frederick Douglass published his autobiography, Ta-Nehisi Coates has published his own expression of what it is like to be black in these United States. As we read this book, it is worth remembering what Douglass taught us: Racial injustice, rooted in the very bones of the nation, has poisoned us all.
Yesterday something terrible happened in Chattanooga. A man opened fire at a military recruiting center, killing four Marines before dying himself. In our violent, gun-worshipping, on-edge culture, this sort of thing happens so frequently that it's almost become routine. What makes this particular incident unique are two things: the name of the attacker, and the reaction to that name.
The martyrs in Charleston -- The Honorable Clementa Pickney, 41, Tywanza Sanders, 26, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, Cynthia Hurd, 54, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, Ethel Lee Lance, 70, Susie Jackson, 87, Myra Thompson, 59, and Reverend Daniel Lee Simmons, Sr., 74 -- deserve our resolve and our dedication to social justice.
It remains to be seen if this racial atrocity will awaken the soul of white America and create a multiracial commitment against the lingering sins of systemic racism. Will the continuing racial injustice in America now be more forthrightly addressed -- by all of us? That will be the moral test of white America's soul.