By Enola G. Aird, founder and president
Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims of the horrific tragedy in Charleston. We will cry, mourn, and pray with them. But we will also continue to call Black people to look deeper. Because whether we think he’s sick or evil, we should see the boy accused of killing nine faithful Christians this week at Emanuel AME church in Charleston as carrying a message.
According to witnesses, the shooter said he was there to kill Black people. That was his motive, pure and simple. The police say the boy is a believer in White supremacy. His kind of supremacy is easy for everyone to see. It reaches out and kills our people. Television and the newspapers notice. Politicians line up to condemn it.
But there is also an everyday White supremacy that is much harder to detect – a silent killer that has been robbing Black people of our hopes and dreams and lives for 400 years. The idea that White people are superior to Black people was devised four centuries ago to justify the enslavement and subjugation of African people. It is a founding principle of this nation, permeates every American institution, underlies the continuing oppression of Black people, and rests subconsciously inside all of our minds.
Slavery was abolished and laws to promote racial equality were passed. But the twinned lies of White superiority and Black inferiority have remained intact. We have been conditioned by them. In spite of legislative changes, negative stereotypes of Black people continue to drive public and private actions. That is why Black people rarely get the benefit of the doubt in confrontations with the police. That is why deep racial disparities persist in health, education, and nearly every area of life. That is why, in short, Black lives simply do not matter as much as White lives do.
The real problem facing us as a people is that we are still viewed as “less than.” Until that changes–until we, as a people, unite to change it–there will be no true progress toward genuine racial equality. That is why Community Healing Network has been working since 2006 to build a global grassroots movement for emotional emancipation–to find ways to overcome and overturn the lie of Black inferiority–and its evil twin, the lie of White superiority.
Today is Juneteenth, the 150th anniversary of the day on which, it is said, the last enslaved Black people in the United States (in Galveston, Texas) learned that they had been “emancipated.” June 19 has since been celebrated in many places across the country as “Freedom Day” and “Emancipation Day.”
Today, June 19, 2015, against the backdrop of the Emanuel AME slaughter, the too-frequent police brutalities against Black people, and the growing realization that we are losing ground, let us make this the Juneteenth on which we finally acknowledge that, as a people, we are not yet free. And let us therefore resolve to fight for our freedom by targeting the true sources of our continued oppression– the twinned, hidden, everyday lies of White superiority and Black inferiority.