The Charleston Shooting has, unfortunately, brought forward some ugly truths that we’ve been trying to ignore.
I am upset on so many levels right now. I am sad beyond belief at the loss of some incredible people. Mothers, fathers, coaches, teachers, public servants. Good people.
I am upset that we continue to have mass shootings in our country and yet, common sense gun laws are still unable to pass in our legal system.
I am upset that we still cower from discussing the issue of racism. We have to change the conversation. We have to HAVE the conversation.
It would be easy for me to pretend that racism does not exist in my country. Because I can (mostly) avoid it. It doesn’t affect me in my daily life. But I always know it’s there.
I am a mother. I advocate for children’s safety and health issues. To me, this is an important topic that impacts our entire society, including our children’s well-being.
Yesterday nine people lost their lives in a city just a couple hours from me (that I once called home), simply because they were black.
I am a 38 year old white, middle class woman. I was born into a farming family in Iowa. My parents were both college educated, my dad was a pilot, my mom a nurse. They went on to very successful careers, and because of my dad’s job as a pilot in the Army, I got to live in several states and in Europe, giving me an insight into different communities and cultures.
I have never been hungry, I have always had a home, college was never even a question, rather almost a requirement. I have traveled, I have experienced life. I have been privileged. I have never once worried that I would not get a job or receive a promotion because of the color of my skin.
However, I do know a little something about being mistreated as a minority because I am a woman. I have experienced double standards because I am a female and witnessed sexual harassment. So, I have a tiny inkling of what prejudice and racism might feel like. I cannot imagine feeling that every day. All the time. Fearing for my children simply because of the color of their skin.
On the other side of the coin, I cannot imagine having enough hatred in my body to mindlessly murder nine beautiful souls, in a prayer meeting.
If there was any question of his motivation, that has now been put to bed, since the shooter admitted he wanted to start a race war.
Now, instead of thinking about what songs to sing in the worship services, black churches are re-evaluating their security strategies.
Their SECURITY STRATEGIES. In CHURCHES. In AMERICA.
Am I the only thinking “WTF?” Is this really the society we live in?
There are good people and there are bad people. It’s always been that way.
There are happy events and there are sad events. It’s always been that way.
There is right, and there is wrong. It has been, and always will be that way.
What happened in Charleston highlights so many issues that we face in our country that we seem unwilling as a nation to have real, change inducing dialogues about: gun control, mental health, and yes, racism. Instead of discussing the racism, some were trying to make this about an attack on religion. Or we blame it on him being mentally ill. (While I have no idea what actually causes a person to take such hate motivated anger and kill innocent people, I think we would be remiss in NOT addressing mental health issues. BUT… let’s not lose focus on the hate crime and racism.) Instead of talking about access to guns … has that even come up yet?
The shooting in Charleston highlights the absolute craziness that pervades our society. The violence, the weapons, the hate. We are the only developed country in the world that has these problems with mass shootings. WHY are we unwilling to do anything to stop it?
Because it’s a violation of our freedoms, our rights?
Do you REALLY feel free? When you have to be worried about being gunned down in your prayer group, ARE YOU FREE?
Anyone who would claim racism is not an issue in our country is naive or pretending. Even our own SC governor, an Indian American woman, claimed that we “put that to bed” when we elected a minority female as governor. In the mean time, one extremely racist state senator called her a “rag head” in a public speech.
Racism isn’t dead. It’s not even buried. It’s alive. And it needs to be acknowledged.
Racism is uncomfortable. It’s difficult to have the conversations that need to be had. We don’t want to step on toes. I remember how uncomfortable I was when I had to talk to my son’s 2nd grade teacher (a wonderful, smart, kind African American woman) — *side note – I was super uncomfortable in that moment in trying to decide if I describe her as African American, black, brown?? — and tell her that Bug, my son, came home and said he heard one of the other students say, “You can never trust a black person.” I wanted her to know that if he ever repeated something like that it did not come from his home. We had to have a big talk with our son and make sure he understood that is not okay, and we love and respect and are kind to everyone. Turns out, he didn’t even really know what a “black person” is, because I guess they describe black as brown in school now. And, for the record, his BFF is “brown.”
The Confederate flag, which never really bothered me, bothers me today as I see it still flying on our state house grounds. It bothers me because I know how upsetting it is to other people. It bothers me because, whether the origins were racist in nature or not, it has become a symbol of racism to many people. And in my opinion, by allowing signs of hatred and oppression to be prominent, we, in some way, allow this bigotry to continue.
As long as we continue to close our eyes to those symbols that still rip holes into our neighbor’s hearts, we cannot heal or move forward.
Let’s look at some statistics here, provided by the FBI and the UCLA school of law:
This is a REAL PROBLEM. I didn’t research how often guns were used in these hate crimes, but my guess is that it’s frequent.
The victims were good people. They were in church on a Wednesday night. We owe it to them to do something.
Not just say we’re going to do something. Not just pray for them and their loved ones.
We have to have a conversation about these ugly truths. We have to do what we can to make the Charleston shooting the last one.
You can start the healing by knowing their names. And you can read about each of them HERE.
They were identified as:
Clementa Pinckney, 41, the senior pastor at the church and a very passionate public servant, serving as a state senator
Sharonda Coleman Singleton, 45, an assistant pastor
Tywanza Sanders, 26
Ethel Lance, 70
Susie Jackson, 87
Cynthia Hurd, 54
Myra Thompson, 59
Daniel Simmons Sr., 74
DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49
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Janine Huldie saysJune 19, 2015 at 9:00 am
Sadly, it racism still very much does exist and like you I was taught and believe there is indeed good and bad in all walks of life. It is just sad that not all can think or see it this way. I also saw it most recently here in our town when a young NYPD police officer that went to the same high school as me, was shot and killed just doing his job by a person who just happened to be a minority. Many tried to play that race card, but to me I didn’t see the color of this person’s skin, but just saw that this just happened to be a bad person just because that is what he was not because of the color of his skin. So you truly said a mouthful here and thank you so much for sharing your feelings and experience up to this point, too.
Janine Huldie recently posted…Scream For My Calendar
Mrs. AOK saysJune 19, 2015 at 3:36 pm
I’m an outsider here, not a local, and people know it. I’m a Yankee, but I’m not a Yankee, but maybe I am. I’m a nomadic Texan that moved to the Charleston area from Illinois last year. There’s plenty to adore here the beach, the shrimp, the downtown area, and even some of the lovely people and their kindness. HOWEVER, there are things that also taint the sweet bless your heart attitude here, and it’s the past. The past still has a hold on today.
I am not saying Charleston is the only town in America that houses racism, because that is far from the truth. I have seen racism everywhere I have lived, BUT there is a sense of separation here that is sometimes eerie.
I have heard racist remarks spew out of the mouths of people here without any regard to whether or not it was offensive to me or my family. And I hate to give anyone a pass- that’s not what I’m doing- but I feel like it’s passed down.
The comment your son learned is an example of that. Kids do not say things or feel things like that without being taught that.
When you fly a flag that no longer represents the past, but has been adopted by others for other reasons, it doesn’t help.
And when you ignore that there is a problem, that’s a problem. We have a problem, a huge big nasty black and white, yellow and brown, and every shade in between problem and WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT IT!
I applaud you for doing so, thank you for starting a conversation.
Mrs. AOK recently posted…Thank You Notes: Mom, Charleston, and M’babe
Marie saysJune 22, 2015 at 4:44 am
It definitely is something I can’t understand – racism. There is an issue, a real one and nothing will change if we keep changing the subject. Thank you for raising your voice Alexa. Saying there is a problem is maybe the first step. I would hope at some stage people will do something about it.
Marie recently posted…Late encounter with Life @ World Moms Blog
another jennifer saysJune 24, 2015 at 1:32 pm
Very well said, Alexa. It is alarming that hate crimes are going up and not down. That no one is truly addressing the blatant racism that still exists and that we have to worry about someone with a gun violating the most sacred of places. I feel helpless when I read stuff like this. But we have to keep talking about it and find solutions.
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