by Malik Nashad Sharpe
There are very few things more deplorable than White America’s response to the Charleston massacre. The silence has been relentless and deafening. The two instances when a White person has spoken to me directly about anything regarding this event, as an ongoing genocide of Black people in the United States, was to ask my teary, puffy face “Rough day?” and to condemn my language around the issue, purporting that it portrays a “White vs. Black” issue, which apparently doesn’t exist. As if Dylan Roof clearly stating “I went into that Black church, to kill Black people”, as a White supremacist touting flags symbolizing White supremacy, wasn’t enough to situate this tragic, but telling loss of Black lives, as a Black/White issue.
“I normally don’t post controversial or political opinions on social media, nor do I respond to them. I will right now, though, to ask if you would reevaluate the language you are using in your latest status. It conveys to me a ‘white v. Black’ stance, which I ask you to not encourage, as an educated peer of mine. Genocide takes many forms, and has been a tragedy for many cultural sects. I too, mourn the loss of the nine innocent souls that were murdered…” —Anonymous White Woman
Do we live in the same world? How can any feeling person look a Black person in the face, given the horrific conditions in which we are forced to realize White American’s content with disposing our lives, our bodies, and souls, and mouth something as ridiculous, and ludicrous, as that?
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White America: No more of your nonsense. This massacre occurred because of your maintenance of White supremacy and all of your hands are bloody.
Do me a huge favor and cease speaking about Dylan Roof’s innocence, kind-hearted, quiet personality, and his perfectly stable mental health. Racism is not a mental illness.
Please stop using adjectives like “unspeakable” as a way to continue business-as-usual silence when Black men, women, children, and babies are drowning in pools of blood all over the world. Stop making excuses for your despicable silence, claim to be mourning alongside the Black community, while we both have to mourn, and act at the same time, on the same day. When your roommate tells you that he has been planning to murder Black people, and you have known for months, inform the authorities (they probably won’t do anything, but hey, we can hope).
Most importantly, stop ignoring our history as if it’s literally dated, past-tense, far removed from our more civilized modern society, as if we haven’t been obviously trapped by the deeply cultivated White supremacy entangled with the very founding of the United States: a deeply violent nation built on the active genocide of native Americans and enslavement of black people. Murders in houses of worship are not uncommon in our history.
Not more than 10 miles away from Emanuel AME, Walter Scott was shot in cold blood for absolutely no reason by a White cop. Do not pretend that we have been progressing towards racial equality and justice, while spectacles of Black death have become a mainstay on MSM outlets. Your fragility, supremacy, and silence is killing all of us.
Black churches [and other Black/Brown] houses of worship have been attacked by gun-loving, deeply racist, mentally capable White men. There isn’t one day that passes where we aren’t made aware of yet another Black life brutally discounted at the hands of White supremacy. The most troubling act of silence is in the case of Dylan’s friends, who were very well aware of his racist ideologies, were aware of his murderous plans for six months without saying a word. This is incredibly shameful.
A baby is born every eight seconds in the US. Every passing moment of inexcusable fragility, every single instance where White supremacy is maintained, and every minute that your silence speaks so loudly, another Dylan Roof is born again, and again, and again.
Speak up. But also listen to how we need you to be accountable for Dylan Roof’s actions. White America, you are guilty as charged and you need to step.
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Malik Nashad Sharpe is a queer Black Caribbean-American choregrapher, dancer, writer, and poet based currently based in NYC. He graduated from Williams College, and is an MFA candidate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He has performed his choreographic work domestically, and internationally, and his writing has been published by New Bourgeois, and the Feminist Wire.