Charleston Can Be A Turning Point For This Country, But We Won’t Make It One

I didn’t know any of the people murdered in Charleston earlier this week. I won’t pretend to, but I don’t need to. Any level-headed human being can understand that nine people being killed is a tragedy, but nine people being killed because of the color of their skin is a hate crime, which, in my opinion, is incomparable.

The location in which these people were murdered only adds to the disgust of the act, but it pales in comparison to the act itself. People were killed for no other reason than being themselves.

Maybe it’s because I was raised to treat all people equally that I could never understand someone conjuring up such a hatred towards a group of people — strictly based on their appearance or existence, no less — that it would lead to a mass execution, and maybe I never will. What I know is that our country is coming to a crossroads, if we’re not there already, and rather than trying to band together, we’re vehemently pushing away from one another.

I’ve never been naïve enough to believe that racism is non-existent. It’s alive and well in all parts of the world and in our country. It’s alive in your state, your town, and possibly your friends. What occurred in Charleston, South Carolina was racism in its most transparent form.

It was no different than what happened during the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, albeit on a significantly smaller scale. Nine people were killed for no other reason than being black. Period. End of (that) discussion.

Racists aren’t born, they’re made, and rather than discussing why the shooter — who shall not be named — committed such a heinous act, what are we talking about?

We have talking heads kicking around the ridiculous assertion that something other than deep-rooted racism could’ve led to this, something that is either a meant to troll the nation for ratings or show just how ass-backwards of a logic some of most powerful news voices continue to perpetuate.

We have people bitching on Twitter about the manner in which the shooter was arrested — handcuffed, standing upright and sporting a bulletproof vest — comparing it side-by-side to the chokehold placed on Eric Garner, a black man who died from a chokehold placed on him in New York City during an arrest for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes, when one has absolutely nothing to do with the other.

You can’t compare the individual police officers who arrested the Charleston shooter to anyone else in that police department, let alone the individuals involved in the Garner incident or the NYPD as a whole.

All that tweet does is create a further divide amongst everyone. By posting that tweet, you’re insinuating that all white people can go around shooting other people and the police don’t see them as a threat, while all black people can’t even stand on a street corner without being harassed by police and/or having their lives put in danger.

That message has been insinuated to more than 47,000 accounts who retweeted it and hundreds of thousands — if not millions — who saw it and did nothing with it, such as myself. And that’s just as of 1:26 a.m. Friday morning.

If the shooter is somehow acquitted, it will only be a matter of minutes until Twitter and Facebook and every other form of social media starts blowing up with posts about how it’s just because he’s white — regardless of how the actual cases are presented by both the state prosecutor and the shooter’s defense team.

We need to be able to have educated discussions about important topics, not take extremist sides and argue with one another. Just because a black person is arrested, injured or killed doesn’t mean we should rush to assume that there was some racially-motivated agenda against the individual or group.

Some cases, like the Charleston shooting, are clear acts of racism and should be addressed as such. There is plenty of hate in the world, and I don’t have to be black to see how some black people are treated in certain situations, whether its subtle or blatant.

But I’ll say what most middle-class white people have probably said in private conversation but are probably petrified to say out loud, let alone on the Internet for all to see: Not all black people are treated poorly, just as not all white people are privileged in every circumstance in life.

Not everything is black versus white.

We need to start reading and absorbing as much unbiased information as possible so that we can formulate our own opinions, have a reason for supporting that opinion, and have substantial information to back up your belief.

Every day we lose the acceptance to have grey area in our lives or even see both sides of a situation. Whether that’s in relation to a crime committed, the presidential election, or whether or not Alex Rodriguez deserves to be in the baseball Hall of Fame, people are forced to have an unwavering opinion one way. By pressuring people to take a clear stand, and it’s only going to keep ripping this country apart.

Not all black people are dangerous; not all police officers abuse their power; Barack Obama did not ruin every single thing about this country, nor did George W. Bush. Just because you belong to a political party, doesn’t mean you have to vote for a sub-par candidate. It’s OK to see both sides of things. Hell, it should be warranted.

We have to educate ourselves and be open to new information. We have to be open to change, because without it we will become complacent and stagnant. We need grey area in our opinions and we need it to be accepted because without it, the people of our country will continue to grow more segregated, more ignorant, and, by extension, more dangerous. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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