America wrestles with matters of race

Published 9:53 pm Monday, May 22, 2017

By Kenya Smith

On June 17, 2015, 21-year-old Dylann Roof entered the historic Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. during Bible study and opened fire, killing nine parishioners. Roof shamelessly admitted that his motive behind the shootings was to start a race war. People across the country and around the world mourned and showed their support for the victims.

As we prepare to mark the second anniversary of the tragedy, there is the growing trend of killing unarmed African-Americans by law enforcement.


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Where do we go as a nation when it comes to race relations?

I love my country. But throughout history, minorities who loved America have been disappointed when America refused to love them back. Unfortunately, it’s still the case today.

As a Christian, I become wary when some of my Christian brothers and sisters continue to make a claim that godly men founded America. It is hard to see Christianity in the fact that people of my ethnicity were treated with outright disrespect and with less value than that of a fly.

It is hard to see the Christian principle behind forcing Native Americans to leave their ancestral lands and live in small reservations with few to no resources. Would Jesus approve of forcing hundreds of devoted Americans of Japanese descent to live in internment camps?

I don’t think so.

In 1852, Frederick Douglass was invited by the Ladies Anti-Slavery Society of Rochester, N.Y., to speak on Independence Day. Many would have expected an optimistic speech about how America sought independence.

But Douglass argued that through the eyes of a slave, July 4 is “a day that reveals to him, more than all other days of the year, a gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.” I highly recommend people to read Douglass’ July 4 speech.

I would like to make a charge to Americans today to remember the dark side of our history along with the good. Those who fail to know their history will be doomed to repeat it. This present era is becoming more like the late 1960s when it comes to race relations.

In addition, we must speak out against every form of bigotry in this country at all costs. To those who don’t consider themselves racist or prejudiced, use discernment when around friends and family. If you’re hanging around people who are saying prejudiced things about a group of people, let them know. If they don’t respect your wishes, find someone who sees all people as valuable.

If you see someone being discriminated against because of their race or any other characteristic, speak up and take action. Don’t be a bystander. Take time to understand people who feel oppressed or misunderstood.

Take time to listen to people instead of trying to win an argument. After all, you automatically win when you take time to show empathy and help people who are different.

Kenya Smith is a Suffolk native and graduate of Regent University. Email her at