Segregation In Modern Society Part III: The Bible Belt
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”- Harper Lee
I was born, raised, and have remained in all twenty years of my life, in the Bible Belt. Here in the south there is one thing in particular that is very, very important to us. You guessed it… church. And if you aren’t attending some kind of church at least four times a week (That’s Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and hopefully a small group or bible study at some point in the week), you’re going to be on everyone’s prayer list, for you have clearly lost it and need to be saved. But just as it is for Greek organizations, church is yet another segregated part of our society.
The African American churches originally started in the decades of slavery in America and continued even after slavery was abolished, because of bonehead segregationists who refused to let African Americans worship with Caucasians. Perhaps the most famous African American church in modern day is Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. It was forced into the spotlight on June 17, 2015 when white, 21 year-old Dylann Roof shot and killed nine African Americans including pastor and South Carolina state senator Clementa Pinckney. Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is a 199-year-old church, and perhaps the oldest African American church in the south, and is a huge part of Charleston’s rich history.
Only a couple of weeks after this tragic event my family had a scheduled vacation in Charleston to stay with family, like we do every summer. We passed the church unintentionally on our way to the Charleston Market one morning. The beautiful iron fence out front was adorned with hand written notes and big red hearts and colorful flowers. People of all shapes and sizes stood outside to pay their respects and light a candle. There were no protests, there were no riots, and for those hard weeks after the shooting, the entire town of Charleston banded together. Red, yellow, black, and white it didn’t matter, they were all Charlestonians, they were all family. I saw it first-hand and it was beautiful.
The members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church let Dylann Roof into their church, a young, white boy no questions asked, let him worship with them before he pulled out a gun and shot and killed nine people in hopes of “igniting a race war”, and they didn’t expect a thing. If it had been the opposite, if it had been in a white church and a strange black man had walked into a bible study the majority of people in the room would have at least been a little nervous if not expect him to pull out a gun and start shooting. This is where years of hate suppression have left us.
Dr. Rustle Moore said, “Charleston was where America split apart in 1861. Maybe it's where America comes together in 2015”. If it took nine cold-blooded murders to bring America together, to blur the lines, and make us color blind for a split second, what is it going to take to bring us together for good?