Why would someone do that…go into a church and kill people during bible study? There was only one answer…hate. Being African American you grow up with it. Hate. It tends to be more subtle these days but you can instantly tell it when you walk into a room or you meet someone. While I was not raised to hate, I was raised to be careful. Raised to know what hate looks like. As a black person you have to know this…to not be in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. You could end up dead. Unfortunately, I have had to be sure that my own child knows what hate looks like because it is REAL. Most of her friends are Caucasian and I have told her she needs to be aware of where she is and what kind of places she goes to with friends. The local redneck dive bar is not the place for her to go to.
The nine lost that night were at bible study. They did not feel the need to be careful. They were at church. Why would they need to worry about anything in church? I was crushed. I felt like I was kicked in the stomach. When I learned that someone I had known since high school was one of the victims it mad me numb inside. It was all so senseless.
When I went to the City Prayer Vigil at the TD Arena, Rabbi Stephanie Alexander said the hate that killed the four girls in Alabama in church is the same hate that killed the nine at Mother Emanuel, fifty two years later. She is right. That hate is old. It is taught. Today it is still real.
Look at what is happening now in the city of Charleston. The KKK is papering neighborhoods with messages of hate. Black churches on James Island are being shot up. It has just been luck that no one else has been killed. Hate groups are trying to instill fear and create chaos.
I am glad that Charleston came together. We were not torn apart in hate but brought together in peace and love. I was one of the fifteen thousand up on the Ravenel Bridge for the Unity Chain. There was no way I was going to miss that. I wanted to be part of the good that occurred after such a tragedy.
I attended the funeral of Cynthia Hurd. I have know her since high school. After almost not making it into the church after a two hour wait I was just at the point were the line was stopped and people were told to go to 2nd Presbyterian Church as a viewing center. I made it in...one of the last 25 allowed in. We were ushered to a side door where we entered the church and were seated in front of two big screen TV's where we could watch the service upstairs. After watching the screen for awhile, I began to look around and thing back on where the nine were killed. The news report said in the downstairs basement area. We were in that area. Then it dawned on me. I was sitting in the location were the tragedy happened. Where they have bible study.
In front of me was a table with a white cloth on it and lots of flowers. There were also nine large standing sprays with a picture of each of the nine lost. It all came together. I really was sitting in the area where they were killed. My heart got really heavy with that realization. I had read in the paper where the team from MUSC had come in to properly clean the church. The energy in the room changed for me and I said a little prayer.
I said a prayer then for those lost and their families and for the wonderful city of Charleston. All the good things that have occurred since the tragedy have given me hope. Hope that one day people of color will not have hate to deal with.
Good has and will come out of this tragedy. Hate has been beaten back for now. We just have to be sure that we don’t lose sight of the grace that God have given all of us. With unity and love we can all come together and give hate a backseat, but it will require constant vigilance. I still have hope for the future and of future generations.