on kens & karens: why domestic terrorists must be named as such

because some trigger warnings live inside of us & don't have to be explained



i’ve been quite perplexed by the surprise with which many have responded to the recent bombing in nashville. sure, i was horrified at the news that the city i fairly recently called home, had suffered such a dangerous attack on christmas day. but as details of the catastrophe unfolded, i was met with a familiar feeling of knowingness. a knowingness that i carry in my body, as has been passed down to me from my mother (and my father) and her parents and so on.


a quick story on this *knowingness* to illustrate my point.


some of you may know that my mother desegregated her school when she was 6 years old. in greenwood, mississippi. in 1966. my grandfather, who was very politically active at the time, escorted my mother to and from school everyday. according to my grandmother, an old white man threatened my grandfather on more than one occasion. there were even calls to my grandparents house that indicated someone was hiding outback, waiting on them to get home. remember, just 3 years prior to this, 4 little Black girls had been murdered via the 16th street baptist church bombing in alabama. so, you can imagine how indignant my grandfather became about keeping his family safe. he called up the city leaders and demanded that proper lighting be placed around their home. and he promised that if the city was reluctant to comply, he had no problem shooting and killing whoever he found lurking in his yard. they put the lights up. threatening to meet violence with violence got their attention enough (that, and my granddaddy just happened to be locked and loaded as it related to white people for as long as i knew him) that they opted to oblige rather than wait and see. they knew, just like my grandfather knew, the penchant for terror many of the white citizens of greenwood carried with them like badges of courage. just waiting to unleash it like a hate-filled grenade upon innocent bystanders who happened to wear Black bodies for a living. this is the knowingness i am referring to. knowing damn well that *we* know white folks better than most white folks do - and what we’ve always known is there is an unbridled history of terrorization that lurks in the yards rooted with their family trees.


Fast-forward about 55 years, here we have the nashville bombing - perpetrated by yet another white man. and people are bumbling and fumbling to not name him as a domestic terrorist. he’s a techy who died in the explosion. he gave a fair warning from his RV. his name is __________ and he’s a regular joe-schmo who just had it rough and took it out on the world by constructing a regular-schmegular bomb that blew up on christmas day. really?


let me tell you what i know for sure - with the knowingness my mother passed down to me that she got from my granddaddy - kens like the nashville bomber and karens like the women who seem to always find a Black person to call the police on like it's their only super power are DOMESTIC TERRORISTS. full stop.


whether they are lighting bombs that result in bodily harm and property damage. or dialing the “slave catchers” to come apprehend Black people for existing. i am calling it what it is. terrorism. far too many of us know this to be true because *we* have been terrorized over and over again while some people still have the privilege of being surprised that things like this (read: white supremacy) happen in nice places like Nashville. in 2020.


whew, chile.


if i write much more, i’ll get angry all over again. and in this last week of 2020, i’m really trying to preserve my peace. so, i’ll conclude by saying this last thing. let us all be mindful of the rose-colored epistemologies we carry with us. they may be the very things making it easy for us to remain willfully obtuse and ignorant about the ways and wiles of white supremacy that continue to go boom in the twilight.


let it be so. dear God, let it be so.


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