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Adoption and Child Separation at the Border

On June 1, 2018 Rebekah Henson published an important thread on Twitter critiquing the hashtags #FamiliesBelongTogether and #Ke...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Exposing the Roots: Family, History, Community and the #CharlestonSyllabus

“We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes”

The melodies of Sweet Honey and the Rock filled my office on early Thursday morning, as I wrestled with the terrible news pouring out of Charleston. Like many Black Americans, I have been overwhelmed by the spectacle of black deaths and the violence wrought on black bodies. I am worn out by contrived narratives and false allies. I am sick of hearing the deafening silence of my non-black friends and family members. I am sick of watching people dance around the naming of white supremacy. I often feel like I am existing somewhere between enraged, distraught, exhausted, and numb.

On Thursday, as the cords of “Ella’s Song” washed over me, I was struck by how conspicuously historical this act of violence was. Over the last year, many historians, journalists and public intellectuals have done tremendous work historicizing and contextualizing present day race relations, state sanctioned violence, mass incarceration, community unrest, protest and activism. Often times these scholars had to work to show and expose the roots of contemporary racism. Yet some of the roots of the Charleston massacre are already visible, wrapping around slavery, rebellion, civil war, reconstruction and the civil rights movement.