Today, many people in the United States continue to grapple with the obscenity of evil delivered by the mass murder on June 17th of nine innocent men and women inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. These were welcoming, faith-filled women and men gathered in a Bible study group who had welcomed a stranger to join them. Yet, once again, overt, racial hatred of African-Americans killed innocent men and women.
Stunned and grieving hearts were lifted up by the courage and depth of faith which compelled two of the victims’ family members to speak these words:
“I forgive you.”
We forgive the perpetrator.
Yet the killer is still among us.
Overt and covert racism is the killer, planted in the earth of these United States long ago with the arrival of the first African slaves. These men and women were brought unwillingly and in chains to the colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. Why? We all know this story, don’t we? Yet, in 2015, most white Americans, as in 1619, continue to marginalize, devalue, and dehumanize African-Americans in particular. There are messages white America needs to hear from people of color. Engage in the dialogue.
We turn to you, O God of love, for You alone strengthen our courage to step forward. You are steadfast in your love and faithfulness. Give us the will to move forward and engage in solutions, to learn and act against the killer, racism, in these United States.
Some suggestions for action:
- Read the Pastoral Letter: The Racial Divide in the United States, by the Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton of Belleville, IL, 2015
- Read the USCCB Pastoral Letter: Confronting a Culture of Violence, 1994
- Visit colorofchange.org. Read, choose an action, and sign the petition.
- Write/Speak to your state and/or Members of Congress concerning racist legislation that restricts voter participation.
- Continue to advocate for the actual removal of the Confederate flag from government property in South Carolina.