Guest post by anonymous contributor
The school I attended for 5th and 6th grade had served in years prior as an all-black school. It was named after poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. It had three floors. We were always told that the first floor held grades 1-4, the second held grades 5-8 and the third floor served as the high school. The gymnasium sat right next to our library, which had served in those days as a home ec. room. When the school had basketball games, the women would cook for both teams since none of the restaurants downtown would feed them.
My home state is situated right in the center of the Appalachian mountain range (that’s pronounced App-uh-latch-un). The northern most southern state, the southern most northern state. After gaining our own statehood, we fought with the union in the Civil War. My hometown was once a bustling city of wealth, diversity and industry. Immigrants from all over the world came here to extract coal from deep beneath our soil. They influenced our culture in countless ways, from cuisine to architecture to folklore. In a nearby town, people of all backgrounds shared a community of company houses placed tightly side-by-side and in order to communicate with one another, they developed a new conglomerate language.
My people have always been a people of adaptation. But they had segregated schools until the Supreme Court told them they couldn’t.
It’s hard to ignore and deny the history of racism when you walk it’s halls daily during your formative years. It’s not so hard to say “oh but that doesn’t happen anymore”. It’s hard to deny the foolishness of prior generations when you can see records of how things used to be. It’s harder to admit that these prejudices exist in your own generation.
But they do, and it’s so clear. You can see it. You can hear it. You can watch it take the lives of nine individuals in their place of worship.
This is our reality.
And I have no idea what to do about it.
Charleston, I am mourning with you. I am sorry I ever thought this was over.