I don’t have much new to say about the shooting at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston. It’s a horrifying act. It’s an act of terror. It’s indicative of the persistence and pervasiveness of racism in our country. However, I think another thing it demonstrates is that the Civil War never ended. Sure, peace was declared, and the seceded states were reintegrated into the Union, but, as often happens, the war didn’t end – it just shifted domains.
This is evident in the history of the post-Civil War south. “Reconstruction” was more about appeasing Southern gentry than it was about liberating former slaves. Furthermore, Jim Crow laws and segregation continued to keep Black people oppressed for a century after the war had ostensibly ended. Finally, the history of violence against Black people and their communities – especially churches – is evidence that the war is still being waged, and that we as a nation have simply tried to ignore it. Add to that the symbolic evidence – the anti-Black rhetoric spouted by conservatives, the fact that the Confederate Flag still flies in many parts of the South as a symbol of pride and not of shame – and you have all of the elements of an underground war.
We live in a war zone! (I’m sure many Native Americans will recognize that as well) If we aren’t actively fighting against White Supremacy, we are, at best, tacitly siding with the enemy. The war isn’t over, so it’s time to take up the fight.