The outrage about the flying of the confederate flag over the South Carolina statehouse has been refueled and re-furled after the horrific shooting and hate crime committed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
I don’t care whether they take this flag down or not. Because this symbol is not the reason for America’s racial issues. America’s soul is the issue. Whether we know or acknowledge it our nation is suffering from a wounded soul. One that will never heal until we face, head on, our history with racial injustice.
It is difficult to have conversations that uncover discomfort, shame and guilt. But putting a salve on our collective souls cannot begin until we engage in this sustained dialogue. It will make us hurt. It will test our hearts. It will make some of us hunker down in our prejudices and fear. Transformation is difficult and attitude change is a daunting task. For 150 years we’ve changed laws, changed policies and enforced new behaviors. I’m grateful for the changes. But only confronting the core of our beliefs, self-reflection and an openness to understand how we benefit from change can truly set us free from bigotry and its residuals.
In the short term, taking down walls, fences, signs, and flags can make us feel good. But the work of racial healing cannot be successful through surface acts. In the long run we must go past the color of skin and flags. Go deeper to view our soul’s hue.
I mourn the loss of nine souls. And the irreparable damage to the lives of their loves ones.