June 19, 2015
We know that there are many types of violence and not all violence is acknowledged or responded to equally – especially when it impacts women, girls and people of color. Therefore, it is important to name painful truths in a direct and succinct manner – even and especially when they are uncomfortable.
Racism still pervades our society.
This latest example of that reality is especially poignant because Emanuel AME Church – the site of this week’s massacre and one of the nation’s oldest Black congregations – hosted a failed slave uprising exactly 193 years before the shooting. Add to that today’s national commemoration of Juneteenth – the anniversary of the abolition of slavery – and this week’s shooting serves as a deeply troubling reminder that the decades that have passed have not successfully distanced us from racial violence.
The shooter’s admission of intent to spark a “race war” is not surprising, but his timing is off – our community has been in a racial Cold War fueled by silence for decades. Tulsa has a bloodied history of racial sieges – from the massacre of the original indigenous people and the brutal relocation of Native Americans to Oklahoma to the 1921 Race Massacre.
The 2012 Good Friday shootings demonstrate that our persistent inaction in the face of inequality, discrimination and injustice creates an environment that invites violence. Our silence speaks for us.
YWCA Tulsa believes that this tragedy can catalyze a different kind of race war – one that wages justice against hate. To fight that war, Tulsans must arm themselves with the courage to speak and the commitment to act.
We must lend our voices to conversations regarding racial equity in our community and refuse to be side-lined by threats of domestic terrorism. We must not retreat from opportunities to engage in racial dialogue. We must never be silenced. We must never let victims’ names fade from our lips:
Cynthia Hurd; Susie Jackson; Ethel Lance; Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor; Rev. Clementa Pinckney; Tywanza Sanders; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr.; Rev. Sharonda Singleton; and Myra Thompson.
Take the YWCA Tulsa Silence is Violence pledge today at www.ywcatulsa.org and promise to engage in conversations that acknowledge that racism is real so that, together, we can create pathways of peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.