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South Carolina Honors College

Seven Hundred and Fifty Words

by Amanda Murphy 

I am only allowed 750 words 
To tell you about my state
And all the things I wish I could do 
To make it better 

I wish I could tell you  
About every last statue 
In our state house
That manages to perpetuate 
The long-standing history  
Of white supremacy in our state 
While we deny its existence 
Such as 
Statues of Andrew Pickens, Thomas Sumter, and Francis Marion 
All of whom owned slaves 
In a state whose population 
Is ⅕ African descent 
These men who fought to steal land  
From the Indigenous Americans 
That we name our cities after 
And whose statues were all commissioned  
By white supremacist groups 
80 years after the last of them were buried 

And don’t get me started 
On the Father of Modern Gynecology  
Whose monument stands proud  
In our great Columbia 
For his contributions to women’s health 
White women’s health, that is 
Because to this day in 2021 
You can hear the cries 
Of Black mothers 
Whose newborn babies  
Are three times more likely 
To grow up without a mother 
As stated by our own MUSC Health statistics 
And that is if they themselves do not perish 
Before taking their first steps 
Because they too 
Stand twice the risk of death 
As they are birthed 
Than White babies in our state 
According to South Carolina DHEC 
More than ¾ of our state is Christian (Pew Research Center) 
And God says that hate  
Is the worst sin of them all 
Yet in 2015, 
Our statehouse was the venue 
Of a Ku Klux Klan rally 
And not only that 
But a month prior 
I witnessed my first terrorist attack 
Not the kind that makes a twelve-year-old  
Take their shoes off in a Charleston airport 
But the kind that kills nine fellow Christians 
The kind that brings the reality of death  
Onto an eleven-year-old girl 
But two months before that, 
Walter Scott was killed 
By a man who was meant to protect me 
Who was meant to protect my friends 
Including every single one of them 
Who suddenly had to have a talk 
About what it meant to be a Black American 
Children who were no older than I 
Who suddenly knew why 
A broken tail light 
Was deadly 
I can remember  
When one of those same friends 
Got a DNA test for his birthday  
And asked me, his nerdy best friend, 
Why there were children at our school 
Who would call him cruel words 
For his dark skin 
When he was almost ¼ white 
(3 percent more than the average African American  
according to,  
23 and Me,  
and Family Tree 
Tell me why 
In this state 
I was the one who had to inform 
One of my best friends 
Of a new breed of cruelty 
One that is not taught in our schools 
That ¼ of his blood 
Was descent of white men 
Who saw no issue  
With raping a human being 
Who they considered no more than property 
Because nobody teaches Black history for what it is 
To be fair, they don’t teach many life skills at all 
In fact, in the Centers for Disease Control’s report 
On South Carolina Sex Ed, 
They documented that there are no requirements 
For how much knowledge the teachers have 
On sexual health 
For Medical Accuracy 
Or for HIV prevention 
But who could really be surprised about that last bit? 
When even national news, NBC to be exact, 
Reports on the 4 trans women who have died 
In South Carolina 
In just two years  
Two of whom died two weeks from each other 
And even though we vowed to find their killers 
We still had to wait for Congress to outlaw trans panic 
So even if we had found them, 
It wouldn’t have mattered 
Because in 2007,  
Stephen Andrew Moller 
Pleaded gay panic  
After shattering the facial bones 
Of Sean Kennedy 
And hitting him so hard, 
So many times, that his brain 
Was detached from his brain stem 
And then, to quote the Wikipedia article on his death, 
Completely verbatim, it began “ricocheting in his skull” 
Yet Mr. Moller received only two and a half years 
For the brutal killing of a man 
That would have earned him 30-life in the state of South Carolina 
Had his victim been straight 
And don’t get me wrong, 
I am capable of pointing out its flaws 
But I do love this state 
And I know 
That it deserves better, 
That I, 
That we, 
Deserve Better 
And this is number 750 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.