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Following the Charleston Killings, How Can Race Relations Be Improved in the U.S.?

Dylann Roof appears via a CCTV video during his bail proceedings for the killing of nine African-American men and women. (Image: YouTube)
Dylann Roof appears via a CCTV video during his bail proceedings for the killing of nine African-American men and women. (Image: YouTube)

I’ve been in a bind over how to cover the tragic mass shooting murders at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina without adding fuel to the problem of race relations in the U.S.

That being said, the nine people who were killed by 21-year-old Dylann Roof on Wednesday were all decent people, they were good church going folk considered pillars of their society.

At a court hearing on Friday, some of the family members of those deceased expressed their pain, but predominantly offered words of forgiveness to the gunman.

“Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof, everyone’s plea for your soul is proof, that they lived in love,” said Alana Simmons, who is the granddaughter of Reverend Daniel Simmons, 74, who was killed in the shooting.

“Their legacies will live in love so hate won’t win. I just want to thank the court for making sure that hate doesn’t win.”

See this video report showing families visiting the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church to help their children make sense of what happened:

Another video at the end of this post shows in full the family members of those slain addressing the accused at the court hearing.

If you go on social media, you’ll see a massive diversity of opinions about what happened in Charleston, and on the state of race relations in general. There are the extremists saying they want to bring on a race war, while others say the shooting was a false flag event so the government can take away their guns.

As stated at the beginning of this post, I’m not going to delve into the negativity of this event, but I’ll repeat some of the constructive (but still diverse) messages that were made by members on the Facebook social media group “Republicans, Libertarians, Democrats, Political Debate Arena” in response to an OP that said: “What can be done to improve race relations in the USA?”

There were plenty of unconstructive comments in what was a very long thread and as Susan*, one of the group’s members, said: “This could have been and should have been an intelligent conversation on race relations. Obviously, that is not possible here, God help us.”

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Social media: Giving people the ability to express themselves over Wednesday’s tragic shooting that killed nine people in a house of worship. (Image: Geralt/pixabay.com)

Susan was right about much of the very long thread, but there were some valuable comments made by people of various backgrounds, and here are a sample of those more level headed comments.

Again here is the OP from Andrew:

What can be done to improve race relations in the USA?

And here are some of the replies:

Charles: Keep the conversation going until hate groups are basically non-existent.

Michael: Expose the Socialist Movement and stop them 100%… end their control over our schools, colleges, media, courts, police, teachers, labor unions, and government… they are the real problem who promotes race and income class hate in America to control people.

Bruce: First, people need to admit that we have a problem.

Keith: The race issues in this nation are FAR less than they have been in the past, the media would have you believe differently, but that is not the reality in the daily lives of most Americans.

Cheryl: I agree with Charles. I also think people (ALL people) need to take a zero tolerance stance against TRUE racism. Disagreeing with the political views of someone of a different color does NOT equate to racism. Too many people do this and it marginalized and confuses TRUE racism.

Randy: Quit calling people racist simply for being a certain ethnicity.

Justin: Media stop stirring the pot?

Jack: Get rid or greatly decrease the power of the government.

Sharon: It isn’t just racism. It’s hate of people that are different or don’t fit the norm. We need to stop teaching our children to hate.

Charles: Concerning the OP… For one, make sure that people who commit equal crimes receive proportionally equal punishments. Second of all, eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent drug offenses and retroactively release all people who have been convicted of these crimes. Third, hold police accountable for when they shoot and kill civilians.

Jose: Stop trying to enforce something that doesn’t exist. Like black, women, gay, white, or Hispanic rights. There is no such thing. There is only individual rights. We need to see ourselves as individuals, and be protected as individuals. Not be put in groups.

Jim: Tell the truth, all the truth, not just what looks good in headlines to sell news. Facts like the rates of crime in all areas where the crime happens who commits the crimes who are arrested and by whom. Facts and truth always win when put in the light, hiding facts and coloring truth causes fear, hate, and mistrust.

Nadia: Racial and gender labels only serve to alienate those who do not consider themselves part of that group. We should focus on the victim’s humanity first, then race and gender second. By putting those distinctions first, they are reduced to only those distinctions, and those who do not share their traits write it off and become apathetic.

Topher: Stop blaming everything on race and accept responsibility for personal actions.

Thomas: Love one another.

Dave: At this point I’m not even sure. This issue has become so partisan, and it’s really not even about improving race relations. It’s more about pointing fingers at each other. And this is a trend that’s not just happening with race relations.

Anthony: Promote the idea that we are all Americans, no matter what race. This whole pride in your own race while degrading other races keeps the cycle repeating, and I personally think Obama pushes the racial divide, so when he leaves office hopefully we can make some headway back towards pre-Obama times. I don’t remember racial tensions being anywhere near to what they are today in all my 30+ years.

Courtney: Barack Obama’s presidency was NEVER going to eliminate centuries of racism. There were people who were negative towards him and other blacks from the beginning, and as soon as an “incident” occurred like Mike Brown or Trayvon Martin it was “see I told you so.”

Lori: In all honesty, we can only “improve” ourselves and our hearts first. If someone has real Love in their “heart,” they see other people’s hearts… Not their skin color.

Clare: Let’s get communities together. Let’s get people of all colors interacting with each other. That would go a long way towards viewing each other as equals.

Aw: … One side is talking about how racism is still a major problem (again politicizing) and the other side is just completely ignoring the fact that it may indeed be racism, and instead focusing on mental illness. We have to meet in the middle somewhere. Just very polarizing and the media loves it.

*Full names of those quoted above have not been included out of respect for their privacy.

Below is the video showing family members of those killed in the shooting addressing the accused at the bail hearing:

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