I received the news about the Charleston shooting via Periscope. It was actually from a news producer that I follow and she was showing the location of the church. I couldn’t sleep after that. I couldn’t believe it. I won’t go into details about what happened. You can Google that for yourself. I won’t go into detail about the history of South Carolina or Charleston or Mother Emanuel AME Church. The history is rich. I will say these few things:
- I am from South Carolina. I actually grew up about an hour and a half from Charleston. My husband and I own a home in Charleston where we lived for a few years.
- My business took root in Charleston and that’s where I made a name for myself.
- I am black.
- I’ve walked those streets countless times.
- I grew up in the AME church.
I have so much I want to say. There are so many things that I want people to realize. Right now, I am angry. I am full on bitter. I don’t want to hold hands and sing songs of peace and love. I don’t think you really care. I think you’re embarrassed that this ugly THING has come home to roost. I’m over it. I want to see a change. I want to know that you really do believe me when I say that racism exists. I want my husband who is 6’3″ 230+ lbs to feel safe walking down the street since somebody might think he looks dangerous although he makes a living saving lives. Better yet, I want to feel confident that my husband won’t be hurt. I want people to not fear me or follow me around the store because I look suspicious.
It’s all great and lovely when we can come together one day of the year. Or one week. Or one month. What happens the rest of the year? What happens when this isn’t just the latest news story? Where will all of these lovely hand holders be? Why does it take a national news story about the MASSACRE of 9 people in church to make a change? Those are my questions.
The murders in Charleston are not just the latest cause to be part of. This is real life. This is life that has existed for so many and will continue to exist until real change is made. I’m not talking about laws that make it LOOK better. Those are a step but the real change starts with the attitude of people. There are quite a few people that don’t realize what racism feels like. They don’t realize that it even exists. Why? Because it does not effect them. The only time they see anything related to racism is on television when the next black person is complaining about being mistreated. This racism that we complain about isn’t real to them. They begin to breed contempt and blame us for being lazy and making excuses. This happens. It is real. Or maybe it’s a black person that doesn’t want to face the fact that they were mistreated because of the color of their skin. This happens, too. I’m from the south. This has been part of my existence for forever. People from around this country don’t necessarily want to believe it exists. IT. DOES. Saying it doesn’t won’t make it true. Reminding us that we have a black president doesn’t make it true. That only thing that’s going to change anything is YOU. When YOU becomes US is when real change happens. When we’re in this together, we can do powerful things.
As I watched the news the day after the massacre, I was filled with so much pride. Not pride in the city of Charleston. Not even in the State of South Carolina. Oh no. Pride in the beautiful people that were talking about Senator Pinckney and the people who lost lives. These people weren’t filled with hate. These people were filled with love. I grew up in the church and the incidents of late have had me questioning my religion like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t understand how my God could allow this to happen? How could my God allow for an entire race of people to be degraded for centuries? These people were murdered in a church after all. Murdered after they’d accepted a new face, of their soon-to-be murderer, into their service and worshipped with him. I’m working through this process now. Romans 12:19 says “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord”. This is my solace. This is why so many people have been able to look beyond the hate that we have endured for so many years. This is what I keep telling myself in order to have some level of understanding.
So I challenge you to remember and know these things:
- There are people in the United States of America that are discriminated against everyday simply because of the color of their skin.
- If you want to do something about the problems of race, get to know someone that doesn’t look like you.
- If you want me, or any other person to believe you care, then actually care. Don’t just show up to the rally. It might just take talking to someone else. It might just take showing that you support people of color and recognize that there are injustices.
- Acknowledge that racism exists. You can’t change what you will not acknowledge.
- Don’t dismiss the plight of others simply because you don’t understand it or because you haven’t experienced it.
- Dylann Roof is not alone. He isn’t a solitary outlier. There are thousands of people that live in this country who are just like him. Recognize this and be on the lookout. You might be the voice of reason that they need. These people could be on your friends list. Look and you will find them.
- This isn’t about Republicans versus Democrats. This is about race.
- Don’t forget the people who lost their lives. This story will be out of the news soon. Don’t let this incident leave your heart. Keep it there and care.
- Ask questions with an open mind and open heart. I get that not everyone understands so please do ask. Don’t just assume you know the answers.
I do love everyone. Race has never been the defining issue for me. I don’t care where you’re from as long as you treat me well and have a good, kind heart. I love people. I love diversity. I love my heritage and strength that I have seen. I love this country that I live in. I just want my country to love me back.
I encourage you to ask me what you are unclear on. I will do my best to answer the best way I can.