Web Video: Race Card Project: Pain and Anguish

Aug. 15, 2017 AT 5:20 p.m. EDT

After a gunman killed nine people in a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015, Michele Norris of The Race Card Project shared the “pain and anguish” being felt across the country. “Tired of saying that we matter” and “Don’t ask me to just forget” were just two of the six-word essays shared on both sides of the issue.

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Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

MS. IFILL: Michele, you curate a project called The Race Card Project, where people write to you about race and identity in six words or less, but mostly precisely six words. What kind of conversation has been going on online?

MS. NORRIS: It’s interesting because, after the massacre in Charleston, there was a lot of just pain and anguish, but also people putting that in context with the year that we’ve been living in. So it was a continuum of a long line of pain, you know, where people were also talking about – they send in six words within essays where they explain their stories, and talking about Freddie Gray and Michael Brown and others who have been killed in police shootings and the notion that black lives matter, and where are we safe.

MS. IFILL: Can I ask you about one of them? You wrote in a woman from – you sent us one woman from – Rebecca Murphy of Baltimore, Maryland, who wrote: “Tired of saying that we matter.” What was her story?

MS. NORRIS: And other people are talking about that. I mean, the notion that the term “black lives matter,” why do we even have to say that? Don’t all lives matter? And one of the things that was interesting is when the story started to unfold and you started to learn a little bit more about the shooter, Dylann Roof. People were quick to use this platform to express their concern that he was being portrayed as a loner, as someone who was misunderstood, as someone who didn’t represent something larger. And then, over time, as you saw the manifesto that he wrote and the flags that he carried, that sort of showed the other side of this conversation that poured into the inbox: people being concerned that Southerners were being cast with a very broad brush, seen as racist, and people who defend the Confederate flag, you know, eager to have their say, too.

MS. IFILL: One of them is Thaddeus from Nashville, Tennessee, who wrote you: “Don’t ask me to just forget.”

MS. NORRIS: Well, and you know, some of them are very ambiguous. But what he was saying don’t ask me is to forget my ancestors. I’m proud of my ancestors, they fought for something noble, a cause that he sees as noble. And he doesn’t particularly like the idea that he would be asked to forget about them, that they should be viewed through a veil of shame.


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