The former U.S. secretary of state and current Democratic presidential candidate made these remarks this week:
As a mother, a grandmother, and a human being, my heart is bursting for the people of Charleston.
Once again, bodies are being carried out of a black church. Once again, racist rhetoric has metastasized into racist violence.
This is a history we wanted so desperately to leave behind, but we can’t hide from hard truths about race and justice in America. We have to name them, own them, and ultimately change them.
In America today, blacks are nearly three times as likely as whites to be denied a mortgage. Our schools are more segregated than they were in the 1960s. Black children are 500 percent more likely to die from asthma than white kids -- how can that be true?
We must address these issues as a nation, and we must also address them as individuals. Cruel jokes can’t go unchallenged, offhand comments about not wanting “those people” in the neighborhood can’t be ignored, and news reports about poverty and crime and discrimination can’t just evoke our sympathy -- even empathy -- they must also spur us to action and prompt us to question our own assumptions and privilege.
We have to embrace the humanity of those around us, no matter what they look like, how they worship, or who they love. Most of all, we have to teach our children to embrace that humanity, too.
As all of us reeled from the news in Charleston; a friend of mine shared his reflection on the hearts and values of those men and women at Mother Emanuel: “A dozen people gathered to pray. They’re in their most intimate of communities and a stranger who doesn’t look or dress like them joins in. They don’t judge, they just welcome. During their last hour, nine people of faith welcomed a stranger in prayer and fellowship.”
“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
That’s humanity at its best. That’s America at its best. And that’s the spirit we need to nurture in our lives and our families and our communities.