This past week, the country witnessed a whirlwind of news making headlines from a White man’s hate of Blacks leading him to kill innocent lives, to the relatives of those victims telling the killer they forgive him and asking God to show mercy on him. This act of mercy left commentators asking how could they do that? Yet the relatives responded back that it is their faith in God through the teachings from the African Methodist Episcopal Church that require them to forgive.
Then we had President Barack Obama delivering a powerful eulogy for the victims that struck an emotional chord with not only the country but the Black community. The president finally closed out his passionate speech by leading the 5000 mourners inside the auditorium and the millions watching in singing “Amazing Grace” as the organist chimed in. “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.” Some asked the organist, Charles Morris Jr. how did you know to play behind the president? His response was that it was the spirit of God that led him from his training since childhood.
Next, we had the United States Supreme Court making several key rulings that were right and just for American citizens. The justices’ rulings said loud and clear that people of the same sex have a legal right to marry the one they love in America. Now I know this flies contrary to the faith community’s beliefs but as a person who has worked in Affirmative Action programs and equal opportunity programs it was the right decision. There was no other way the justices could have decided this case.
And if that was not enough, the court also ruled that Disparate Impact evidence could be used in Housing Discrimination lawsuits to prove discrimination. This is huge because it has been used in employment discrimination complaints and cases ever since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the courts decision of Griggs v. Duke Power Company in North Carolina. At the heart of discrimination is the consequences of our actions or policies not our intentions or neutrality of our actions. In all of my investigations of discrimination, I have never found a person who intended to discriminate against anyone but I have found a lot of discrimination when you look at the evidence of their actions.
When I met with George Pepper, the former head of the state Ku Klux Klan, he said they did not discriminate but he believed the races should be separate. I remember telling him that sounds nice but why prevent those who believe otherwise from doing so or deny a race from equal access to public services of finance, education, housing and other government or government supported benefits?
You will not find too many people today who will admit they discriminate against someone because of race, sex, age, national origin, disability or sexual orientation but through their actions, will tell you otherwise. They will tell you my faith does not allow me to hate anyone yet they turn right around and deny another citizen services even though they are doing business with the public. This is the same thing F.W Woolworth Stores told Blacks in the south before the sit-ins at lunch counters.
We have laws on the books that seem neutral in writing but discriminate when put into action. Why are there more Blacks and Hispanics in prison than Whites? It is because of those taking action in carrying out the law do so with biases that create disparities in their application of the law.
The court also ruled for the second time that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is legal and is the law of the land. This will keep many people with health coverage who did not have it before.
Yes it was a big week for President Obama in the court for civil rights and delivering the eulogy in South Carolina for Senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney and eight others who were gunned down while studying the word of God. But those who hate will not give up their fight so we should ask the Lord to forgive them for all that hate and we have to remain vigilant and not rest for one minute. What a historic week we have witnessed.