me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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Mother Emanuel

I've been silent here because I haven't known how to respond to the Charleston shootings. I'm old enough to remember the bombings of black churches in the '60's, little girls younger than I was being blown to bits. I saw the increased resolve and militancy those bombings gave the civil rights movement. Women, Latinos, Asians, and gays all watched and learned, grew militant, too, and slowly the rights guaranteed in the US constitution began to actually be extended to all citizens. The structures of politics, business, education, and entertainment started little by little to resemble more closely the people who actually live in this country, until finally -- a black President.

I was never naive enough to believe we'd achieved "post-racial America" when Obama was elected, but I admit to shock and surprise at the vitriol and hatred directed at him for daring to be black and powerful. I wasn't prepared for the permission people gave themselves to let their racism hang out, to proudly wave that flag.

I wasn't prepared for Charleston. Or for Ferguson, or Baltimore; but at least those were fights I recognized. When I heard about Charleston, though, all I could think was, we're back to this? Fifty years later, we're back to this?

Besides extending my heart, I don't know what to say to my black friends, to all people of color in this country. I sympathize; as far as I can, I empathize; but I don't know what to DO. How to help.

As a Jew I'm reminded of Germany in the '30's. We were assimilated. We were like everyone else. A lot of us ate pork. A lot of us kept our shops open on Yom Kippur. It didn't matter. When people filled with hate needed someone to pour it all out on, it was us, as it had always been. Here in the US, it isn't us so much; people of color are easier targets. The horror, though, is the same: the individual horror that attends each act, like Charleston, and the greater horror, the dread that it will always be like this.

I despair.

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