The Confederate flag, which for more than 150 years has been a symbol of hate and division in America to folks who look like me, last week came down from its place of honor in South Carolina to the cheers of thousands.
It was physically easy to lower the “Stars and Bars” from its lofty perch atop a pole on the grounds of the statehouse in Columbia, S.C. Psychologically, it will be a lot harder to remove the hate that this simple, yet hallowed (to some) piece of material has perpetrated in the hearts of many. Some want to see that flag unfurling in the breeze forever.
Although it took the slaughtering of nine innocent church goers to make the majority of white lawmakers in South Carolina to see the light, I’m glad to know that the Confederate flag is down. And while I understand it has a place in our American history, I just don’t think it belongs on the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse, which is supposed to represent all of that state’s citizens — blacks included.
If it is true that Dylann Roof pulled the trigger that killed nine people inside Mother Emmanuel AME Church one Wednesday evening in June, he is not the only one guilty. From the time he was a baby, someone instilled in his heart a hate so strong that it blinded him. On that fateful day, the bottled-up hate spilled out of him, causing the deaths of his black brothers and sisters.
So where do we, as a people, go from here? How do we stop acts of hate that keep tearing apart our nation? The answer: We’ve got to start teaching our babies how to love and respect those who are seemingly different from us.
Let me tell you a true story. When I was young, I worked in a home where there were three young children. I loved them like they were my own babies. But one day something happened that helped me make up my mind to seek other employment. It was a simple remark made to me by one of the young children I cared for.
It was morning and I was feeding the baby while the two older children finished eating their breakfast. Liz, the live-in maid, and I read the morning paper at the counter and talked about the days events while the children ate.
On that particular day, there was a picture of two little girls on the front page of the paper. One was white and the other was black. It was in the mid 1960s and the South struggled with school desegregation. In the picture, the little white girl was comforting the little black girl, who obviously was one of the children integrating the school.
The picture touched me and I showed it to Liz and said , “If the grown ups would stop fighting and let the children lead the way, we wouldn’t have so much prejudice.” I didn’t know the little girl in our charge, who was 5 at the time, was paying attention until she asked, “Bea, what’s prejudice?”
I thought about how I should answer her. I wanted her to understand. So I said, “In this case, prejudice is when some white people think they are better than black people and teach their children to hate the blacks.”
Her answer stunned me: “Mommy teaches me that,” she said matter-of-factly and went back to eating her breakfast. I looked at Liz and said, “I don’t know about you, but I have got to find another job before this baby can grow up and call me the ‘N’ word.”
Until that remark from an innocent child many years ago, I hadn’t given much thought to how some parents teach their children to hate from the cradle.
Last month, all of America got a glimpse of how much hate can hurt — and although Roof pulled the trigger, he didn’t act alone.
It’s sad to think that maybe it’s too late to save Roof. But in my heart, I want to believe that it isn’t too late for us, as a nation, to push past the hate that keeps us fighting.
If we are ever going to get past our racial problems, we have got to start while our children are in the cradle. Better still, while they are still in the womb.
Student missionaries help build bridge
A warm Neighbors in Religion salute to the more than 100 student missionaries from Belen Jesuit Preparatory School and Our Lady of Lourdes Academy who traveled to El Puerto in Imbert, Dominican Republic, to deliver medicines, vitamins and building tools to construct a bridge.
The young missionaries, engineers and a medical doctor were led by the Rev. Frank Permuy, a Belen alumni, on the mission that took place June 26-July 5.
According to a Belen news release, 111 people helped construct the bridge that will not only assist the 150 families in El Puerto, but the 500 surrounding families living near the bridge.
Missionary Rebecca Garcia, who went on the mission trip for a second time, said she watched the students “change” from the first day to the last. “It was so humbling; they truly stepped up. … Just by coming on the trip showed a lot about the character of the students,” she said.
Lucho Rodriguez said he not only bonded with his Belen brothers on the trip, but also with the people of El Puerto. Before going, he said, some of the Belen alumni spoke to the students about how they would be helping the people of the town . “It really touched us,” said Lucho, a Belen junior. “After the trip I felt connected with my brothers and the people of the town.”
This was the 34th year the school has supported the missions. “It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of summer and not help those who need it the most,” said the Rev. Pedro Suarez, Belen alumni. “These students gave not only their time but of their blood, sweat, and tears.”
Belen is at 500 SW 127th Ave. Its enrollment is 1,500 male students in grades 6 through 12.
‘Tales of Hoffman’ in Kendall
Don’t miss this opportunity to beat the summer doldrums while also treating your family to an afternoon of opera.
Riuniti Opera and the Alhambra Orchestra with conductor Timothy Shade will present their annual summer collaboration of a free opera performance of scenes and selections from The Tales of Hoffmann, by Jacques Offenbach.
The opera promises to be “cleverly entertaining with plenty of vocal acrobatics” sung by a cast singers to include Dr. Beverly Coulter, Eddie Valdes, Steven Bourdeau, Enrique Estrada, Jared Peroune, Danielle Sanda, Melissa Ruiz, and Stephanie Newman.
It will take place 4 p.m. Sunday in the school auditorium at Temple Beth Am, 5950 N. Kendall Dr. No reservations needed but large groups or those in need of special accommodation should call in advance.
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