For many reasons, the word of a church being riddled with bullets and leaving 26 casualties, is heart-wrenching. Unimaginable on a certain level. A certain level that eludes the mind. A certain level where humanity appears to be in complete disarray and the control has been completely abandoned by the wayside. A sense of terror or fear is generated when the story of a church full of prayers and faith is cast afloat the already treacherous seas of social navigation we encounter on a daily basis. When I think of incidents at church, I unintentionally, yet somehow methodically, think of Addie Mae, Denise, Carole and Cynthia. I use their first names only, because there is a bit of familiarity even though not only did I not know the four girls that lost their lives inside the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama or even been born on that morbid September day in 1963. Yet, emphatically, I am taken back there and to South Carolina, when Dylann Roof murdered nine people attending Bible Study. Immediately, I am taken to these places. Not because I want to, but because past experiences force me in that direction. The seed had been planted long ago. Not in my generation, but generations long before. However, even with this mindset or perhaps brainwashed theories, I am determined to look closer than the surface.
The Truth about America
Devin Patrick Kelley is the culprit behind the shooting deaths of 26 people in the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Again, I immediately became consumed with the idea that a white man had killed 26 people in a church and struck deep into my racial bag to make sense of this the only way I knew how. And that was to enrich this horrific event with some sort of racial motivation or attempt to somehow oppress. Again, not my clearest moment of thinking, yet when a way of thinking has been not only drilled into your head, but proven itself in countless experiences, it is easy to fall gracefully back into a bag of convenience. Regardless, as the details began to develop, the aspiration to label this in a racial or radical context steamed within, but would turn out to be a futile effort since none of these mental accusations I concocted were fitting the mold at all. Now, averting from America’s everlasting attempts to motivate me and all people who inhabit this country, I was forced to get a different meaning or understanding of what happened in Texas. The truth, I found would be even more defining of the lie of America.
As more details were released, Kelley became more of a symbol of mental illness and America’s incapacity to handle individuals that find themselves in this position. Again, I found myself reeling in the idea that had a black man been charged with such an episode, no measurement of mental capacity would have saved him from the moral lynch mob that would consume his life, both literally and figuratively. In this place, my mind still dwells, but I lose my apprehension of America’s true initiatives in order to not lose sight of humanity. The truth of the matter is that Kelley served in the US Air Force before being court martialed and sentenced to one year in prison for a domestic dispute involving his wife and stepson. Let’s think about this for a moment. The Air Force kicked Kelley out for behavioral issues, he spent a year in jail for this crime and was removed from the Air Force. In addition to this, more details have surfaced that Kelley had attempted to escape a behavioral health services center during his time as a member of the US Air Force. The details verify that he was caught at a nearby Greyhound Station. As much as I would like to back into my American brainwashing of the hatred of others and being ruled by fear, I am forced to reckon with the responsibility of the institution that had knowledge of all of this, yet made no attempts to educate the public in which he was being released into. The US Airforce never notified the proper authorities which could have at least made it harder, if not voided the opportunity to legally purchase the firearm that may have been the murder weapon. What causes an institution such as the US Air Force to determine someone’s mental capacity, deem them unfit and then release them into society as if there is no issue? Is it America’s devotion of covertly adding to the issues of its own society in order to use the subsequent fall out as some sort of political maneuver? There is no coincidence that there are undoubtedly others in this same predicament. The government, through armed forces and incarceration have the ability to manipulate and destroy the mental capacities of its inhabitants, then strategically send them back into society as if there has been no percentage of their mental well-being compromised during a tour in Afghanistan or on Rikers Island. As prayers and condolences go out to the families and survivors of this inhumane attack, I caution others as I caution myself to by no means forget the atrocities, but also don’t forget the bigger scheme entrenched upon us all whether you are a black man in Detroit or a white man in Texas. Catch ya’ on the FLIPSIDE.