Last week I mourned with Charleston and the rest of the country over the deaths of nine gentle souls who had welcomed the man who would be their murderer into their prayer group.
I read each update with an ache in my heart, not just for the victims, their families and their church, but for a region, and a country, that still seems divided against itself. Spare me your calls and letters about how it’s time for blacks to “let it go.” Ask yourself, would you let it go if you shared their legacy of slavery and Jim Crow and discrimination and murder based on the color of your skin?
Before you brand me as a damn Yankee, let me point out that my great-grandfather was in Charleston and joined the Confederate Army just before the attack on Fort Sumter. He was with Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard after U.S. Army Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort to the South. I am also from St. Louis and have lived in many cities, large and small, across the country. I am well aware that the South has not cornered the market on this problem.
So as I read the comments on stories and in Facebook posts criticizing the “media” for exacerbating the racial divide by its coverage of the massacre and labeling it a hate crime, the phrase used by the Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen in the immediate aftermath, I am reminded that the role of messenger is rarely popular but critically important.
My intent here is not to debate the semantics, nor address the criticism that politicians on the left and on the right are using the attack for political gain. My intent is to explain that the media’s role is to illuminate problems in our communities and, whenever possible, seek to report on what’s being done to eliminate them.
In the case of this attack, that problem is racism. And if the media doesn’t stand up and show the cost of that evil, and let the communities know how they can honor victims and help in the Herculean effort needed to banish it once and for all, who will?
Helping your neighbors
Summer is historically a time when blood donations fall off and the need increases. That’s why the Sun News will host a Red Cross Blood Drive here on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you are interested in donating, you may schedule an appointment online at www.redcrossblood.org (use the sponsor code: TheSunNews) or call 1-800-RED CROSS
We are proud to be able to sponsor such drives throughout the year and hope you’ll join our staff members in signing up to donate. It’s an easy way to help save a life.