On my soap box: Us vs. Them

A confederate flag flies high over the capitol of South Carolina as the ghosts of Generals long passed haunt the streets bearing their names. A lone white man backed by hundreds of years of oppression enters a church in Charleston hiding a gun and a killer’s agenda.

Nobody expected a bible study to end in the deaths of nine, yet few seem bold enough to call it what it was – an act of terrorism. The media sweeps blatant acts of racism under the rug with euphemisms of “tragedy” and government officials “push” to end the violence, but the fact remains: nine innocent people are dead.

When that 21 year-old pulled out his gun and pointed it at the preacher, witnesses heard him say to the all-black members of the congregation, “You are raping our women and taking over the country.”

Minutes later, eight were dead and one was fatally wounded.

After moments like these, the country starts to have the “gun conversation”, the “racism conversation”, the “white supremacy conversation”, but how many people have to die before these conversations stop and actions speak?

I am proud to be an American, but not when I think about Ferguson, not when I think about Baltimore, not when I think about a teenage black girl beat to the ground in Texas for attending a pool party, or nine innocent people brutally murdered in a historic place of refuge.

We may have a black president, we may celebrate black history month and elevate black artists and writers and athletes and thinkers as great Americans, yet we can’t even protect them as our brothers and sisters. Until we learn to think together and respect each other, no amount of governmental restrictions or protests will do anything.

It’s not just black and white.

Our society perpetuates a fear of Muslims, of Hispanics, of Asians, of Native Americans, of the “us” vs. “them.”

Fox News screams about how they are taking over our country, they are ruining our economy, they are the reason our cities are getting more violent, but no one stops to think about how this might be a collective problem.

There is no us and them – there’s just us.

Passing policy isn’t easy, change doesn’t happen overnight, but I keep wondering what great act of terrorism has to happen – white on black, black on black, American on American – before people take action.

It’s not easy to love someone very different from you. It’s not easy to embrace a stranger without passing judgment. It’s not easy to look past preconceived notions to feel compassion, but in a nation dominated by “Christians,” I hope people can find the capacity to love.

People keep saying, “Change takes time,” but I’m sick of waiting.

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