Charleston, Out of the Ashes

Renae Brabham




Oh Charleston, I'm waiting, waiting with you to see what is left after the passion and rawness of this horrific tragedy wears off.



I, for one, believe that nothing short of a catastrophic martyrdom like this could have turned the tide of racism. There is and always will be hate. But — Charleston proved to the entire world that hate is outnumbered here. About 25K to 1 if the bridge calculations were right. 


Now those beautiful souls are being laid to rest. And there's a nervous twitter about the city. What will become of us? I don't think there is a soul in Charleston that wants to throw the sheets back over the ghost of its past. Let's continue to pursue peace and love and equality. Wounds heal better in open air. The boils have festered deep in our soil for over 150  years. Slavery and the Civil War.


I love the South, I am not ashamed of it one bit. I am ashamed of those few who, through greed and in darkness, slipped ships stealthily into our harbors and brought the curse of inhumanity. I am ashamed of the men in fine suits on the foggy docks of our ports that traded money for lives of African men women and children. No soul should ever be owned. 


Good people, thinking they couldn't make a difference, looked the other way when the planks were lowered into our port as one by one, families filed off to be sold at the market. If the inertia to do the right thing had been there when those ships pulled in as it was on the Ravenel Bridge this past Sunday, the port would have been closed and history would have changed forever. 



Ok, so let's start with the Confederate flag? It always made me uneasy, a “Go away flag” standoffish and prideful.  I liken it to neighborhood summer clubs where little clicks would get together and exclude some. Secret passwords, or secrets required to enter. Holding on to tokens.



I know the arguments, the “I have family that established this town," or the "I have ancestors who died in the Civil War.” I had to come to grips with that myself. But, not a single prideful story of that war was passed down on either my husband's or my side of the family. Because at some point and time we have to realize that the battles we fight aren't always the right ones. Many family members came back to their towns and cities and never spoke another word about the war. My husband didn't even know, nor did his own father, that their relative signed the succession until 5 years ago. There are no family pics passed down with confederate flags or medals or glorified tales. 


When putting out my small paperback collection of stories a few years ago, I fiddled around with several names for the book. I wanted something regional that people could relate to, but didn‘t want to use an ad-nauseum pronoun for the South. I chose Piddlin in Dixie. I researched it, and geographically Dixie was used to describe areas below the Mason-Dixon line. There are other derivatives for the word that may offend. So, although the books are out there, I will be changing the title for future publications of stories to Piddlin in Plough Mud. 



I hold my breath and pray as our beloved city mourns the deaths of 9 of it’s own. God speed your souls to a welcome father who will greet you with “Well done my good and faithful son’s and daughters.”