On June 17th, 2015, nine lives were suddenly lost in Charleston, South Carolina in the USA, when a man joined a prayer group in a church and opened fire. Today, on the blog, we carry the passionate words of a mother from South Carolina, Yolanda M. McCloud of “Lesser Known Feats of Awesomeness“, to tell the story…
There are no words that can describe the sorrow and despair that has been felt around my state and this nation in the past several weeks. June 17th will forever be emblazoned on our brains as the day when one man, one gun, one mission, walked into a church, not just any church, Mother Emanuel AME, one of the South’s most historically black churches, and changed nine families forever. One man, one failed mission, one gun, nine people.
As I reflect on this, I have said in the weeks following that this type of act just does not happen in South Carolina, let alone in a church. What type of monster walks into a church, sits through Bible study, and then shoots the people he has sat around with for an hour? Who does that to anyone? As we embark on the months ahead, I am saddened by the display of hatred that has taken place following the dreadful day.
Charleston has shown the world how to weep for the lost, but the rest of our State and country has become unraveled at the seams embattled in the same argument, over a flag.
A flag, the center of the unrest at this moment, not the nine lives that were doing God’s work by worshipping and learning his word and the principles for which Jesus died for. No, a scrap of cloth that was created out of hate. That is what society has made the central conversation. And now, it feels more like we are back in the 1960’s with the burning of black churches, too.
The flag issue seems to be the core of the unrest and the destruction of houses of worship around the South. The creator of this flag, William T. Thompson called this flag the “White Man’s Flag” and said that “As a people we are fighting to maintain the heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematic of our cause…As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism.” Supremacy, white man, and colored race…heritage.
The debate over heritage and the cause of a war long by gone, a war that was fought so that men and women in the South could keep their slaves, human beings that they owned like cattle, should not be happening today.
A scrap of cloth that now the governor of South Carolina and the governing body has found the courage to say, “enough is enough,” and remove it in honor of the Emanuel 9. I am honored that I was able to see it come down on July 10th, 2015 and pray that it never graces its perch again.
Now this scrap of cloth has long been used as a tool of hate and is being revered by many as a large part of their heritage, citing that the Civil War was fought over state’s rights. In 1962, Senator Strom Thurmond stood in front of Congress to ask for more money for schools to stay segregated and the flag was hoisted to the State House dome and stayed there as rebellion against the civil rights movement. It is being seen to many as a national treasure.
As I sit and watch friends and others debate the cause of the Civil War and the creation of this flag, they talk about how their heritage is wrapped up and tied in a scrap of cloth.
And I begin to wonder, what if instead of black people, slaves bore the shade of skin like those supporting the confederate flag? Would there still be the debate over heritage?
I was born and raised in the South. I grew up knowing that people with my complexion were viewed as “lesser than” because we are darker than my lighter complexioned brothers and sisters.
I grew up knowing that there used to be bathrooms, water fountains, entrances for blacks and they weren’t allowed to use property or doors marked “whites only.” That blacks and whites went to separate schools and the words “separate but equal” were often used when things were anything but. We are aware more than ever that this flag is used as a weapon of supremacy over my race and the race of many others.
We are living in dangerous times. Where is the respect that so many people of color protested, marched, sat-in and risked their lives to achieve in our country’s history? How and why do we find ourselves unsafe again through such a hateful act just because of the color of our skin?
We are living in times where people do not seem to care for life and respect each other after all the civil rights progress that has been made since the 1960s. People are hurling hurtful, unintelligent statements about race on social media for many to see. I see it.
We are living in times where church is no longer sacred. When I see the images of black churches being burned to the ground, it saddens me further because those churches, they are all of our churches no matter our denomination, no matter our race, no matter our gender. They are all God’s House, and we are all welcome. To see them go up in flames is sad because once again, God’s House is not sacred. Our country was founded on the principles of freedom of religion.
If a person is different, meaning if they are not equal to a person in ethnicity, finances, or educational background, then they are less. This extends far beyond “white privilege”. This is the message I am receiving. The message I, and so many others, are feeling.
Churches can be rebuilt, flags can be removed, but life cannot be restored. And as people weigh in on both sides of this debate, I think what gets lost is that children lost their parents, families lost their aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Nine lives lost, one of those lives I knew and applauded and appreciated.
I ask, How many more lives do we have to lose to violence because my skin doesn’t look like yours?”
I weep for the Charleston 9, I weep for Charleston the City, and I weep for the world that thinks that it’s okay to threaten, demean, and belittle those that do not believe in the same thing that others believe in.
I hope that my home state, the great State of South Carolina, will remember this day and the removal of the flag and continue to send a message that hate is no longer allowed.
I hope that the people who are burning churches are caught and publicly known as the hate filled monsters they are. If no other place on this earth is sacred and safe, a church should be sacred and safe. Mother Emanuel and every place of worship should be sacred and safe.
It shouldn’t be about culture, heritage, or being white or black. It should be about people. I ask you to empathize. It’s about the fact that Mother Emanuel could have been the Catholic Church up the street, could have been Temple, and could have been any mosque around the corner. It could have happened in North Carolina, Georgia, New York, or Maine. Your church, my church, from Greeleyville, South Carolina to the State of Tennessee and beyond, the rubble that once was a house of worship could have been made anywhere. The hate must stop.
We lift their families up in prayer, and we remind the world that greatness was lost because of one man, one gun, one failed mission, and nine families and a nation are forever changed.
This is an original guest post to World Moms Blog by Yolanda M. Gordon of South Carolina, USA. You can find her on her blog, “Lesser Known Feats of Awesomeness.”
IMAGE CREDIT: WWW.THEHILL.COM
On December 9th, 2014, WorldMomsBlog.com, a global community for women that writes from over 20 countries on motherhood, culture, humans rights and social good, will join media influencers and top government officials at The White House in Washington, D.C. The goal of the discussions will be “to increase awareness among young people and encourage their participation in educational, cultural and professional exchanges.”
“I am extremely honored and enthusiastic to be invited into the conversation around millennials and global and cultural exchanges at the home of the President of the United States of America.” — Jennifer Burden, Founder of WorldMomsBlog.com
In 1993 Jennifer won a scholarship from her hometown of Brick Township’s Board of Education to live with a family in Japan for a summer during high school. Her experience through Youth for Understanding was life-changing, and she still remains close friends with the Miyaji family in Japan.
“We’ve attended each other’s weddings, watched our families grow and exchanged support during tragic events of September 11th, 2001 and the tsunami that impacted Japan in 2011. It has been a mind opening experience to have such a connection with a family elsewhere on the globe, similar to the connections we are now making to mothers through World Moms Blog.”, says Burden.
However, Jennifer is just one of the many WorldMoms Blog.com community with a story of an early experience abroad that has made an impact. The invitation to The White House inspired us to ask our globally minded contributors about their early abroad experiences, if any. What we learned may surprise you!…
Our contributor, Ana Gaby from Stumble Abroad, is a Mexico native, who studied abroad in Canada during high school and in France in college. Karyn Van Der Zwet of Kloppenmum in New Zealand worked in London for four years during her 20s. And, Jennifer Iacovelli of Another Jennifer studied abroad in London, England while a junior at Syracuse University in New York, USA.
Dee Harlow, The Wanderlustress has lived all over the world and is now in Lesotho. She told us that during her 20s she was working abroad from the US in Singapore. K10K in Belgium of The Penguin and the Panther volunteered in Rumenia fixing up a local birth clinic and in Morocco helping to install an irrigation system in her early 20s. In fact, her husband proposed to her on that Morocco trip!
Kristyn Zalota of Cleanbirth.org went to Russia on an exchange just after the Soviet Union collapsed. And in college she did a semester in Luxembourg and went back to Russia after graduating and lived with a family. While, Kirsten Doyle of Running For Autism in Canada grew up in South Africa and lived and worked in Israel at age 23. She started on a kibbutz and then worked on farms.
Elizabeth Atalay of Documama spent a summer in Israel at age 17 after high school, a summer in Bolivia as college student at age 19 and backpacked around South America for the summer at age 21 and for 6 months through Africa when she was 24. She also spent four months backpacking around Asia/Pacific at 26 after college pursuing her work as a documentarian!
Jennifer Prestholdt, The Human Rights Warrior, took a semester off from Yale University when she was 20 and enrolled as a Norwegian student at the University of Oslo’s faculty of political science. She also worked at a barnehage (day care center) when in Norway. During law school, she spent two summers living in Geneva and working at the United Nations.
Nicole Morgan of Sisters from Another Mister went to college in South Africa, then spent a year traveling Europe, where she backpacked through Italy, Greece and Turkey. She volunteered for a while with the YWCA, and then spent six months working in a London advertising/graphics company while waitressing at night. Polish Mom Photographer, grew up in Poland and worked as an au pair as part of a cultural exchange program in U.S when she was 26. She also worked as a waitress in London, England for 2 months when she was 21!
Susie Newday of New Day, New Lesson grew up in the US and went on a program to Israel when she was 18. She lived and worked on kibbutz, and now resides in Israel. And, Olga Mecking, The European Mama, grew up in Poland and studied french in Nancy, France for a month. She then went on to study in Germany for a year, went to Canada for 4 months and then moved to Germany. She has now been living in the Netherlands for the past 5 years.
Tina Santiago-Rodriguez, Truly Rich Mom, of the Philippines grew up and studied in Brunei from kindergarten to secondary school, and then went back home to the Philippines to attend college. After graduating, she became a mission volunteer for her Catholic lay community and was assigned to Borneo (East Malaysia and Brunei) and Timor Leste for about 2 years, to do ministry work for youth and kids. She was then assigned to Manila for a year, then to Timor Leste with her parents and fiance for another year, before getting married at 26. She returned to Timor with her husband as newlyweds and stayed for another 4 years or so before returning to the Philippines.
Nicole Melancon, the Thirdeyemom, studied in Paris when she was 21 and worked as a fille au pair (nanny) and French intern the following year. While, Hannah Ashton moved to the US from the UK when she was 17, went to university in the US, but did her junior year back in the UK. She ended up staying in the US for three years after she graduated. And, Erin Threlfall went to Germany to study at a university and then went volunteered at a refugee camp in Ghana, where she stayed for 11 years!
Sophia Neghesti Johnson of Think Say Be from Tanzania volunteered in Santa Cruz, CA at Bosch Baha’i School for a year at 18. She then studied in Los Angeles, CA and Tampa, FL in her mid 20s with a focus on psychology. At 24 she worked as a freelance photographer for celebrity events in Los Angeles, CA, & has continued freelancing in Florida to sponsor girls’ education in Zanzibar at Regeza Mwendo School.
Our contributor, Anne Marie Wraight in Greece, went to Germany on a cultural exchange programme from the UK. Her choir and orchestra played several concerts together with the youth orchestra from Berlin. They also had a musical to perform which was a great hit!!! She was part of a group that stayed with the musicians from the host orchestra so they could practise our foreign language skills. This exchange took place every 2 years. She says it was, “Great on EVERY level of cultural exchange!”As a result of the experience, Anne Marie did her gap year in Berlin, where she volunteered with retired people who lived on their own and had special needs and taught English. She then moved to Greece in her early 20’s and still resides there today!
Jennifer Burden will be bringing these stories of the WorldMomsBlog.com community and more to Washington. The invitation to The White House is a big milestone for World Moms Blog, and we are over the moon about including our community in these top-level discussions of global importance for students and young adults! This honor is a true reflection of the hard work of our entire global editing and contributing staff toward running the site and opening minds to what life is like for mothers all over the world. Congratulations to every single World Mom!!
Did you travel abroad when you were in your teens or 20’s on a trip that has impacted your life? Tell us your story in the comments, and we will take it to Washington!
WorldMomsBlog.com is a community that shares the stories of over 60 contributors from over 20 countries on motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. We have been named a FORBES Woman Best Website for Women, ’12 & ’13; a NY Times Motherlode “must read” and recommended in the “The Times of India”.