By Richard Wembe Johnson, Folsom Prison
The senseless demented forces that propelled that young white man to slaughter innocent Charleston, S.C. Black churchgoers, while praying and studying their bibles, is indicative of how far we’ve come in bridging the racial divide.
For those of us who were around in 1963, the pains of the bombing of a Birmingham Black Church that slaughtered 4 girls remain so vivid.
Just as in Charleston, their only perceived wrong was being born Black.
Unfortunately there are still too many of us, both Black and White, who continue to believe that if they remain silent, the sickness of racism that plagues our society will go away.
The racists who act out with murderous intent aren’t born with evil lurking within them, but rather they learn and adopt some of the negative views of America’s ingrained institutional racism.
The challenge for us remains. Unless we are dedicated to working to make a change, racism will remain unchecked. It’s not solely the availability of guns, the confederate flag nor the individuals who see Black advancement as a threat to white supremacy that are driving this upsurge of violence against Blacks.
We should remain vigilant on rooting out racial hatred and not just wait for tragic events to happen to prick our consciences.
Our society remains largely unchanged despite the fact that there have been numerous public and private discussions and dialogues advocating for change.
To make real change we must face this issue dead on and not make excuses. Firstly, who is committing these acts of pure hatred?
Secondly, what steps can we make to reach these professed racist before they act?
Thirdly, we must recognize the fundamental foundations of racism, even within ourselves.
Fourthly, there must be a united front to combat racism throughout our society on all levels.
It seems clear that gunman Dylann Roof was motivated by racial hatred to commit vicious acts of mass murder. How many more atrocious demonstrations of hatred are needed before real change occurs?
We can’t as a society continue to acquiesce and sit idly by, with a lack of courage to face the evils of racism.
While many of us continue to march, demonstrate and plead for justice, that effort is not enough. We must go further by honestly and directly facing down the source of this evil racism.
I believe we can have an amiable, fair and just society if we unite to make a change.
Our commitment to God and the belief that if we act on the principles of what is the common good, we can then help to defeat racism in this world.