As I'm driving into work on June 18th, I was stunned as I heard the news of the shooting of 9 people in a historic South Carolina church. I listened to the few details they gave and began to cry.
As the day went on, I started receiving text messages from my CNN app with more information about the tragedy: 21 year old male shooter; he sat in the bible study for an hour before the shooting; he wanted to start a race war. WOW.
I found myself going through so many different emotions that come from different perspectives, all of which make up who I am: a black woman, a black woman married into a white family, and a follower of Jesus.
As a black woman, I was MAD. He came into a place of worship and sat among the people he would later kill. The victims' kindness, professed by the shooter himself, to be repaid in bullets. Why? Because they were black. And there's no denying it this time. Out of his own mouth. This could have been people I know and love. I AM MAD.
As a black woman who married into a white family, I don't know how I would discuss this with them. I don't know how to express all that I feel because I don't know how it would be received. I know they believe this act was sad and horrible and so wrong. But I don't know that they could truly understand. How could they, really? But I don't I believe that saying nothing is beneficial either. As my pastor says, "Comprehension begins with conversation".
As a follower of Jesus, I want to follow the example of those directly impacted. In the midst of great pain and loss, the victims' family members have expressed forgiveness to the shooter. Only deep faith and strength from God Himself could allow for them to get to such a place. I want my faith in the Lord to be so strong that I am able to trust in Him no matter what I may face in life, and believe He will carry me through it.
Since the tragedy, I've had the opportunity to spend time and have great conversations with friends of varying races and cultures and, now, I am hopeful. I'm hopeful that this event would encourage people to be more kind to one another. I'm hopeful that it would lead to more conversations between people of different colors and cultures about how each one feels and the things they've experienced. I'm hopeful that what was meant for bad will be used for good in Charleston, my community, and in our country.