Radiance - A Novel by Phil Kenney
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"Until he outran running itself and the sure life of the spirit, moving and not moving, carried on, yes, carried on into the glow that smiles upon birth and death alike. That smiles upon the entire stir-fry of existence." 

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Phil’s Blog Special Edition: Charleston, South Carolina

June 20, 2015

I cannot fathom how Black people are able to cry. How their hearts can still beat with emotion and love. Were it me who had suffered a quarter of what has been perpetrated on our African American sisters and brothers I’m sure my heart would be numb and deadened as the sidewalk outside my house.

And yet they wail and mourn: again. When the news came through the TV on Friday morning, I sobbed too, spinning the wheel of my stationary bike fearful I might fall off. I wept and could barely see the talking heads until they began to talk the CNN talk. What I heard turned my grief to outrage and despair. The white man just don’t get it.

First of all, this is not a “senseless act” of violence. Senseless? Where have you been for the past five hundred years? This murderous assault makes all the sense in the world. And don’t blame it on mental illness; this is an act of profound hatred. Hatred that occupies the hearts and minds of way too many white people.

And don’t you dare call this, “a lone wolf,” some crazy boy who acted independently in a moment of insanity. NO! Take a look at the badge on his jacket. What does it say? Remember Rhodesia? What that place was like? This man was acting out the violent hatred of a network of believers in the creed of white supremacy. He acted in good faith, the instrument of a people’s desire for the elimination of all human rights for the daughters and sons of slavery.

What is true insanity, as Jon Stewart articulated on the Daily Show last night, is the blind complicity of mainstream American Culture in the denial and distortion of what is going on. As he said in his opening remarks, had this been a terrorist attack we would go to any lengths to go after this threat to our basic safety. Instead, what will be done? The right to possess the holy gun will get more protection than our own citizens.

What is truly insane is to continue the war against distant enemies while we allow such enemies to our own people to continue the killing. Isn’t it convenient to have an enemy like Isis? To have an evil empire to project everything bad in the world onto. To have a clear target for our destructiveness. To avoid till the end, the racial wound that festers in our cities and states and the hatred that lives on while good people die. It is sickening, maddening and one should despair.

Why doesn’t President Obama demand that the Confederate flag come down off of the Capital building in South Carolina? Why isn’t there, at the very least, a referendum to strip the names of Confederate Generals from the highways of South Carolina? Why don’t we make gun control the number one issue in every election? It isn’t the economy, stupid. It is lives. Black lives. Human lives.

Last night I attended a banquet with my son, Joey. I sat next to a black man about my age. He was fiddling with his camera for a while. I wanted to talk to him, and I felt afraid, guilty and dumb. Portland is a very white city. I know very few black men. I stumbled and groped. We talked and ended up laughing. One small step for this man.



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