Welcome to my first blog!
Today, I counted four articles stirred by the tragic racial hatred that took the lives of nine Americans attending a weekly Bible study a week ago in Charleston, S.C.
Three articles popped up on my WRAL local news station. My attention, however, was drawn to the largest headline there: Confederate flag debate way of life in Rocky Mount neighborhood. The headline rested below a picture of a house taken by Mark Simpson. The house was surrounded by confederate flags with one on top that can be seen, according to writer Adam Owen, from at least a block away. The house sits in a mostly African American neighborhood, Owen reports. Signs beside the house read “No Trespassing” and “Keep Out.”
Of course, the flags send a racist statement, but I am struck by the contrast between a man so embittered against other people that he feels it necessary to remain in the African American neighborhood and wall himself off, and a group of nine Christians of color who opened their hearts and doors to a young man of a race that had once enslaved them because they believed that love was better than hate.
From a very literal, non-religious perspective, the man who hates is still alive and the nine who opened their doors and hearts are dead. But I have to ask, whose life was the richer and whose community is blessed with joy even in grief, anger, and sorrow?
Hate is a heavy burden. It weighs down the life the hater has received. Hate is dehumanizing, but not for the victim, though in a strange reversal, the hater thinks so. Hate can also be a group dynamic and it is more dangerous when it becomes so. Hate takes a lot of energy.
What would our society look like if the energy devoted to preserving our white status, to fearing we might lose that status, were instead devoted to seeking ways to help youth such as Dylan Roof develop his positive qualities? That is the very thing those nine black church members were attempting to do. It is our job as white and privileged Americans to examine what is needed to change a culture that in some way still provides the means to cause a white high school dropout to take nine lives and lose his own, for his life is indeed lost? Or what is needed to change a man who chooses to live in his “castle” with the symbols of enslavement for his companions?