Charlottesville: Only Love


diversity, race, equality, Charlottesville


On Friday night before sleep, I took one last look at Twitter and saw pictures of the torch-carrying, white supremacists in Charlottesville. I was shocked and overwhelmingly disturbed. When I awoke Saturday morning, I turned on the news and watched in horror the scene that unfolded throughout the day.

Over the last two days, I’ve read what many others had to say about racism and hate and fear. I’ve not had adequate or eloquent enough words to add to the dialogue. The only conversations I’ve had were with my husband and children. Mostly, though, I’ve kept quiet and watched and listened.

I grew up and remain in Alabama. I learned early about racism, though what I learned was how to be racist, not how to combat racism. I used the n-word without a second thought because it was so commonplace amidst my very-white, very-privileged, fundamentalist environment. If anybody ever thought it was wrong, no one ever said so.

The KKK was something to be laughed about, not something to be condemned. I remember a pastor dressing as a Klan member with a white sheet over his head before a church service one evening as a joke. Looking back, I am horrified.

When my first child was born, a change began to take place within me. I wanted my children to learn how to be and do better than me. I wanted them to learn to love and accept people, whatever their race. Eventually, I would come to see that diversity in all its forms is good and wanted my children to learn that, as well.

It’s been seventeen years since my first child was born, and I’m still learning how to love. I watch, I read, I listen. I want to understand the oppression other people feel, whether it’s because of their skin color, their gender preference, their religious beliefs, their sexual orientation, or their economic status. Largely, I’ve been ignorant, but in the current state of the world, ignorance is not an option. Ignorance doesn’t combat hate; only love can do that.

I want to be compassionate and do whatever I can to make the world a better place. Too often, I don’t know what that looks like, so I start with my children and my small sphere of influence. These days, as they are all in their teenage years, I learn more from them than they learn from me. We discuss what it means to be accepting of people’s differences. We name injustice when we see it.

This morning, as I attempted to summon the Muse, I read some of Leonard Cohen’s lyrics. I recognized it’s often the artists — the poets and musicians and painters who are prophets — that attempt to set the tone for our culture. So, today, I pray a little prayer that my words help set the tone for love and equality and peace in our streets and in our homes. May we be willing to name our prejudices when we recognize them and willing to let go of the beliefs that cause so much damage to others.


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