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WaPo: America ‘Created on the Idea of White Supremacy’

From Baynard Woods writing at the Washington Post:

I am white. I was born and raised in South Carolina, a state to which my grandmother’s family came in the 1600s. They owned slaves. Part of her family were Pinckneys, which means that someone in my family may have owned someone in the family of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was killed in the terrorist attack on Charleston’s Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Wednesday night. Those same people who owned his ancestors were likely involved in, or at least aware of, the suppression first of the Stono rebellion in 1739 — which resulted in mass executions and the placement of the severed heads of rebels on stakes on the road outside of Charleston and in the Negro Acts, a tightening of slave laws, including the outlawing of drums. And they were probably also involved later, in 1822, in suppressing the Denmark Vesey rebellion, which was centered around Emanuel. When that revolt failed, the church was burned and Vesey was executed — probably to the relief of my land-holding ancestors.

There were also four white people arrested and executed for their role in Vesey’s plot. I can’t help but think that, had there been more of them, the tragic course of South Carolina’s history may have been different, and perhaps we would not have bred terrorists such as Dylann Roof, the alleged shooter.

I’m not saying that it is up to White Saviors to rescue black people. The #Blacklivesmatter movement has produced a number of powerful leaders — and not just famous ones like Deray McKesson and Johnetta Elzie. In Baltimore, where I now live, I watched as cousins and neighbors of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old who was killed by police, grew into leaders of an organic neighborhood movement, which is still struggling to improve the community. But it is up to white people to rescue white people from our own worst selves, from the distorted monsters we have allowed ourselves to become. It is time to stop making excuses. We have to stop hiding from the truth of race — that this country, and the state of South Carolina in particular, were created on the idea of white supremacy. We’ll never overcome that history unless we acknowledge it.

Read the rest of the story at the Washington Post.


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