Equity & Diversity Opinion

After Charleston: Our Actions Will Determine the Future of Racism

By Jill Berkowicz & Ann Myers — June 21, 2015 1 min read
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We were in the middle of writing a blog about race this week triggered by the Rachel Dolezal story. Then, Thursday night’s tragedy happened in Charleston. With the people in the The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., referred to as the ‘Mother Emmanuel’ faith community, along with all of Charleston, we were stunned, forced to confront the hatred and the disregard for life among us. Shocked and outraged we are profoundly sad...for the loss of precious lives, for families torn apart, for those who prayerfully ask for understanding and healing, and for our nation...our one nation under God...which tries mightily to hold freedom as its plumb line of difference in the world and suffers terrible pain when a young man uses that very freedom in hate to destroy.

One night cannot, we hope, tear us further apart by race. As we listen to grieving people of Charleston speak and hold each other in words and arms, we sense their awful loss, their remarkable resilience and their faith. We hope each of us will shed tears with them over these next few days, and we hope that blood and tears will wash us into the broken hearted place where we can, one by one, touch and reach into the depth of our nation’s soul to heal the wounds and the divisiveness that has taken root there.

As two white women who lived and worked in support of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, we wanted to believe the nation had come far from the racial violence of those years. But it seems that is not so. So, we begin anew. Every teacher and every school leader, remember today that racism detected in schools can more easily be eradicated than that which seeps, undetected, into and through the growing years of a child. While we celebrate diversity, let’s be sure the children know we are all members of the human race and our actions will determine its future. Our heads and hearts and hands are extended in this time and in this purpose to those who will lead Charleston out of this night into a new light...one that shines on the path for us all.

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