So when is it OK to go out and enjoy the food and drink that the victims of the Emanuel AME massacre will never again experience? Tonight? Tomorrow night?
In the aftermath of a tragedy, the impulse is to wonder whether things will ever again be the same. The agony surrounding Wednesday night’s shooting is partly rooted in how clearly the attack demonstrates that things are exactly the same as they’ve always been: Racial hatred is a fatal force in the United States. Americans are gunned down on a daily basis, and still we drink our old-fashioneds and pick at boards of charcuterie.
When the situation gets that twisted, a little acknowledgement goes a long way. Considering how inured we’ve become to terrorism, it’s unrealistic to expect Charleston restaurants and bars to shut down just because the latest killing occurred within city limits. Nor would we be any better off for it.
Immediately after the vigil at Morris Brown AME, I ambled down the block to Dave’s Carry-Out for turkey necks and lima beans. The counterman called me shorty and gave me extra hot sauce, which is exactly how comfort food is supposed to work. The South, which has known so much sadness, has lots of comfort foods. This surely isn’t the time to stop serving them. But let’s at least honor our slain neighbors by recognizing that when we return to restaurants and bars, it’s for the physical and spiritual solace they offer – not the live music on the patio.
It was jarring today to see my Twitter feed periodically hijacked by restaurants touting their specials and regularly-scheduled events (Home Team BBQ postponed its Gimme Shelter fundraiser, and served the prepared food to 125 victim advocates and relatives at the Embassy Suites.) The message that made the most sense to me came from Coast Brewing, which at 2:30 p.m. tweeted, “Seems trivial but we are open 4-7 today. I wish I had some great words of wisdom but I don’t. Just #chslove.”
There is so much left to learn about what happened at Emanuel last night. Yet initial reports suggest the congregants welcomed the terrorist into their sacred home. They sat with him, and he murdered them. That’s the kind of heinous violence that might make an African-American church think twice about opening its doors to white strangers. But Morris Brown AME today invited the whole of the community to pray together.
The pastors I met at the vigil said more prayer meetings are planned. In the meantime, we can and should come together around tables. Let’s just not forget why.
Here, a list of bars and restaurants that are supporting the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund:
• Edmund’s Oast is donating 100 percent of Thursday night’s beverage sales.
• John Lewis Barbecue, popping up Saturday at Revelry Brewing, is donating a portion of El Sancho sandwich sales.
• Auto-Banh is collecting donations this weekend.
• The Glass Onion is donating 20 percent of Thursday night’s total sales.
• Monza Pizza, Taco Boy, Leon’s Oyster Shop, Saint Alban and Closed for Business are donating 10 percent of total sales Friday through Sunday.
• Indigo Road Group restaurants (Oak Steakhouse, Indaco, O-Ku, The Cocktail Club, The Macintosh) are donating 10 percent of Saturday’s sales.
• Barsa is donating 10 percent of Thursday night’s sales.
• Acme Lowcountry Kitchen is donating $1000 to the fund, regardless of sales.
• Cannon Green is donating 10 percent of Saturday dinner and Sunday brunch sales.
• Zero George Cafe is donating 10 percent of sales through the weekend.
• Lee Lee’s Hot Kitchen is donating 10 percent of Sunday’s sales.
• Proof is donating 100 percent of Monday night’s sales and tips.
To donate without eating or drinking, visit motheremanuelhopefund.com, beginning Friday at 12 noon. And if you know about another benefit, please add it in the comments.