By Elaine B. Holtz
It was a moment of great pride listening to President Obama give the eulogy for Clementa C. Pinckney in Charleston, South Carolina. Obama called for the Confederate flag to come down, the end of employment discrimination, unjust policing and prison sentencing. He called for the end of excessive dialogues on race without substantive change. The President shocked all in the audience when he closed his message, very much in the black church tradition, by singing “Amazing Grace.”
It is overwhelming to realize all the harm that fell upon the victims, their families and friends on June 17 when a single gunman filled with hate turned his weapon on nine innocent human beings and killed them. Nine individuals who were sharpening their spiritual awareness sitting in a place of worship, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston. Imagine the scene, all those people sitting and studying and praying while the killer was sitting with them. Suddenly a level of horror is created that I pray none of us experience.
South Carolina reminds us about what is happening to many families across the globe who are also experiencing violence and killing be it from an act of war or one of their own citizens. It is critical to understand that the notion of race and the other is what divides us all. If you took off the top layer of our skin and looked inside, everyone would find a heart, a liver, blood flowing, veins, etc and realize we are all the same and members of the same race, the human race.
We live in troubled times and the deep hate keeps popping up. We walk a thin line in this country with our first amendment rights, our right to free speech; however I cannot help but think about the right wing media shock jocks who take advantage of that right. How do we handle that aspect of free speech particularly when we know it is encouraging others to hate and even do harm. We need ask ourselves why do we listen to or accept this type of rhetoric.
The confederate flag is down but hate seems to be up. It was debated until well into the night whether or not to keep the flag, and 20 voted no to keep it up. In the name of free speech they believed that this expression, this flag that represents hatred, oppression and lynching should never been allowed in the first place to be placed at the state capitol and allowed to fly freely.
The time has come to start exploring how we can stop all this hate and violence in both war and against one another. I want to give my condolences to all the victims’ families in South Carolina and a thank you for sharing about forgiveness. When we forgive someone it does not mean we accept their behavior or the consequences; to me it means we understand we are all part of the mystery, and although they did not condone the action they were able to still forgive the person and their ignorance. Those who do are leading us to understanding what love is all about. May the hate melt in our hearts so we can begin the journey of change.
Elaine B. Holtz, MA, Edu. Is the Producer/Host of “Women’s Spaces” www.womensspaces.com, KBBF 89.1FM Monday 11-12Noon