Thou shalt not kill. It is the sixth commandment of the Judeo-Christian God’s law.
Yet nine people were murdered last week on June 17, 2015 in a Charleston, SC in the Emanuel A.M.E Church. It was a Wednesday night. And if you belong to a church, you know that Wednesdays are for choir practice, bible studies, potluck dinners, etc. Nobody else in town schedules their event on a Wednesday night to avoid people having to choose which activity/event to attend. So on this extra day of the week of gathering together as a faith community, it seems doubly chilling to me that violence was perpetrated upon these nine innocent individuals.
Portraits image courtesy of The Shade Room on Facebook (biographies at The Grio, here)
Left to right (top): Ethel Lance, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd
Left to right (middle): DePayne Doctor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Susie Jackson
Left to right (bottom): Myra Thompson, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Sharonda Coleman
My prayers go out to the families and friends of these nine beautiful people (with biographies shared by ABC News) who were murdered in that Charleston, SC church. They were someone’s husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, teachers and pastors, mentors and role models, friends and community members. These nine individuals were all productive, giving members of society. And so, their loss is so tragic and so profoundly sad.
The race hatred by the killer that brought about their deaths, is not how our world should be. Stories about other killings, injuries inflicted on children and adults by those whose responsibility is to serve and to protect, and other hate crimes are sadly rampant in our daily news. And these atrocities are not acceptable and we should never become desensitized to hearing about them.
Jon Stewart’s response to this latest tragedy may have said it best on The Daily show:
I espouse love here on my blog. But love has to also include respecting others who are different from ourselves–in whatever way they are different. And race as a supposed difference is a social construct that we attribute meaning to beyond our traditionally biased definitions of origin and ethnicity. Race and ethnicity are more culturally bound– than sex and age–and our identities within a particular group are developed and reinforced by that group through rituals, customs, traditions, and such.
And whatever racial group we check on the demographics for our taxes, we are all members of the human race. And in reality, if each of us were to follow our biological ancestry all the way back, we would find that we all come from the same place. Our Eden genesis is currently called the continent of Africa (see excerpt below from Wiki):
“Models of human evolution
Today, all humans are classified as belonging to the species Homo sapiens and sub-species Homo sapiens sapiens. However, this is not the first species of homininae: the first species of genus Homo, Homo habilis, are theorized to have evolved in East Africa at least 2 million years ago, and members of this species populated different parts of Africa in a relatively short time. Homo erectus is theorized to have evolved more than 1.8 million years ago, and by 1.5 million years ago had spread throughout Europe and Asia. Virtually all physical anthropologists agree that Archaic Homo sapiens (A group including the possible species H. heidelbergensis, H. rhodesiensis and H. neanderthalensis) evolved out of African Homo erectus ((sensu lato) or Homo ergaster).
Today anthropologists increasingly believe that anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) evolved in North or East Africa from H. heidelbergensis and then migrated out of Africa, mixing with and replacing H. heidelbergensis and H. neanderthalensis populations throughout Europe and Asia, and H. rhodesiensis populations in Sub-Saharan Africa (a combination of the Out of Africa and Multiregional models).[verification needed]”
So the hate crime purveyors who are discriminating against, injuring, and killing people who are of African heritage means they are targeting all of us–even themselves. And people who say that violence and hate crimes happen elsewhere–as a rationale for not advocating for change–are deluding themselves. Sadly, violence and hate crimes happen everywhere. And every instance of violence directed at others should be countered, because if we become blasé and complacent about the violence, it will eventually engulf our communities and our society (per the FBI’s Hate Crimes Unit).
I try to live a life that embraces others–professionally and personally. Some examples of this are: by me creating an essay contest for high schoolers to express how diversity and difference positively intersects their lives; by helping to organize small and large educational and career events that bring economically disadvantaged youngsters to campus to meet and be mentored by role models, and by treating others with the respect and courtesy that I would wish to receive. But, I know it is still not enough, I need to continue to do more, to learn more in order to be better able to help when help is needed, and to lend my voice to the chorus.
And my heartbreak when reading about violence against people of color stems from how even more personal it is to me in recent years because of my dear friends and family, several of whom are persons of color. The youngest being a cherubic little fellow with boundless toddler energy. I want to see him grow strong and tall–and I hope that he will not have to worry about whether will be targeted because he is biracial. But sadly, I also know that our society has not progressed very far in race relations and racial equality. Mine is a dream very similar to that of the slain Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s stirring “I have a Dream” speech:
So on this Sunday/today–what for some is a Sabbath day–we remember the victims of violence last week and elsewhere. And rather than a solemn moment of silence–which is also good, for those who honored them thusly– to honor the victims, I chose, with my blog post today, to add my voice to those decrying the violence and the hate crimes in our society that took these nine wonderful people’s lives. I mourn their deaths and the loss to their community and to all of us of what might have been with their positive contributions to society.
Hugs & Love! Grati
P.S. And if you would like a tangible way to share your sympathy and provide a measure of solace and comfort to the families and to the Emanuel AME Church, The Huff Post shares some ideas and some links to charitable donation sites.