They buried Jerrald Gallion, Angela Michelle Carr, and Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr., who should be enjoying their children and grandchildren and planning for their futures.
Instead, they were slaughtered for the crime of being Black in America.
They were killed on August 25 in Jacksonville by a deranged racist who ended their lives because he hated people darker than him. He used an AR-15-style assault rifle to quickly slice through his victims.
Prognosticators gain airtime and 15 minutes of fame wondering if our partisan politics means we’re on the precipice of a civil war. Obviously, they’re not paying attention.
War has always been here.
It’s not a war of north against south or right against left. It’s the never-ending war of racial hatred.
We’ve seen this too many times before. A gunman in Buffalo walked into a supermarket and killed 10 Black people. Nine Black people died in the Charleston Church massacre. In addition to deaths, there’s intimidation. Someone recently dropped off racist flyers in the Centerville/Washington Twp. area. Others still hang nooses from trees.
Against the backdrop of human destruction, lawmakers and courts want to pretend we live in a color-blind society, a nice aspiration that’s more denigration for those who live each day knowing that’s not true.
We can’t be a color-blind society while blindly attacking people of color or combat racism by pretending it doesn’t exist. We certainly can’t fight with a “both-sides-of-the-mouth” strategy that condemns bigotry and then courts the bigots with dog whistles they see as soothing as a mother’s lullaby.
The racists understand the real message. When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis offered soothing words during a vigil for the Jacksonville dead, the crowd loudly booed him. Why? Because he’s used his power to paint diversity efforts and other programs important to Black people as akin to devil worship.
Two conservative organizations have made a cottage industry of suing companies with programs that help Black people get ahead. A law firm fellowship that promotes diversity and a venture capital fund that helps Black women entrepreneurs start their businesses will soon find themselves before judges.
The message from these efforts isn’t everyone’s equal. It’s stop “them” from getting ahead and taking what belongs to “us.”
Stop them in any way necessary.
That’s what the Jacksonville shooter, in his warped mind, thought he was doing. He wanted to start a race war, Rolling Stone reported, in an effort to stop “them.”
The war has always been here, and society shrugs its shoulders, just as it did following lynchings and whippings. The cries of anguish from devastated families will soon be drowned out by indifference and the hypocrisy of more “leaders” decrying the next shooting and then making remarks that translate to “those people.”
Was anybody confused by what Trump’s “Find the riggers!” Twitter comment really meant? Was anybody surprised his party didn’t condemn the remarks?
The rhetoric goes both ways. Democrats aren’t clean in this. The party has a history of fighting against civil rights, embracing segregationists, and putting a former Ku Klux Klan Exalted Cyclops, former Sen. Robert Byrd, into leadership positions.
Those events may have happened long ago, but what we see today marks a continuation of the efforts to, stop “them.”
Instead of offering condolences and then rushing for the next dog whistle, here’s what all of our leaders can do. Utter this simple phrase: “If you are a racist, I don’t want your vote, donation or support.”
I’m not holding my breath because that’s a lot of votes and money someone will throw away.
Such a statement would go much further than doing vocal gymnastics every time someone of color gets murdered based on skin color, a societal construct that society seems too willing to continue embracing.
We can then go about disagreeing on policy, fighting in court, and arguing about whether Black people, who begin life at the starting line of a 100-meter run, should get some consideration given much of society starts at the 50 and has no intention of making the race fair.
The war is here and always has been. Who’s going to stand up to stop it?
Ray Marcano’s column appears on these pages each Sunday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.