Last night Jon Stewart spoke frankly as he often does about tragedies and terrorist attacks.
That's exactly what the Charleston shooting was and we need to call it as such. The shooter himself has admitted that he wanted to start a race war. Instead of labeling him as mentally ill, we need to treat this as a hate crime and terrorist attack.
It floors me how we handle race in this country. We like to act like we're this great melting pot and that we let people do what they desire and we protect each other. None of this is true and we need to deal with that.
Other countries have had attacks like these that have completely changed laws across the board on mental health, gun control/access, education, and even the labeling of those like white supremacists as hate groups. Germany and Australia are great examples of these measures.
I can't help but think about those left behind and the grief they - and the community - are going through. I'm much more spiritual than religious, but those affected are on my mind. I wish that the shooter's heart could've been touched as he stayed for the prayer service. I wish the words and community bound would've helped him realize how wrong he is.
Racism is a disease - a disease that's taught, but a disease nonetheless. Like my juvenile arthritis, I can pretend it isn't there until an event or a flare happens. I can go off my medication and pretend I don't need to keep working to eradicate my disease - until Arthur shows up to remind me he hasn't gone away. The difference is that I don't try to create sympathy for him depending on his race.
Have you ever noticed that white terrorists are always called shooters and mentally ill? African Americans who may do similar things are thugs and gangsters. Muslims are the one group we somehow feel okay calling terrorists when these things happen.
We have to stop pretending racism is gone and start working together to make it happen. The question is can we? Can a country based so much more on individualism and the notion of every person for themselves really change enough to care about others in a way that we can end this? Can a country so steeped in racist history that it likes to deny actually work to heal itself and move forward?
We whitewash our history books in so many ways. We make it sound like the civil war was so noble, being about freeing slaves from the start. It wasn't.
Let's take a note from other countries. Let's put tighter restrictions on guns, increase mental health care funding, label white supremacist groups rightly as hate groups and ban them, or even have real conversations about race in our country.
We have to stop lying to ourselves, confront our past, and work towards a better future. When we start to address the racism in our systems, we can work to end a number of issues that go along with it.
Dr. King did so much for his country and people use the holiday in his honor to have sales on mattresses. His dream of having African American children judged on the content of their character isn't happening. People are constantly being judged based on stereotypes and racist ideals instead of by how good of a person they are.
As a white girl who grew up in poverty, I can't really in honesty speak to a lot of this and I realize that. As someone looking in from a point of privilege though, I think Dr. King would be angry at the lack of progress. To know one of the coolest, hardest working people would be disappointed in me makes me want to work harder to end the systematic persecution of minorities, whoever they may be.
To get even more political...
With national elections coming up shortly, or at least the beginning of campaigns, it's important to keep these things on our minds. Do we want someone in charge who will undo progress we've made, who has a discriminatory nature/past, and who won't take us forward? We need to keep this event and others from the past few years in mind as we look at our candidates for president especially. I encourage you to go through not only the issues that affect you but to find out stances on gun control, mental health care, and other reforms that could make this event a thing of the past.
We can do this. It will be hard but I know we can end racism.