Charleston, Racism, and Mental Health


This is not a Crohn’s post.

Nor is this about a piece of cloth.

Because cloth does not breed hate.

People do.

Cloth does not cause mental instability.

A person’s chemical composition does.

And dammit, it’s high time we discussed this!

Charleston is my hometown. I was born and raised there. My grandmother grew up on rainbow road. This city is in my blood, my heritage, and I will always love it more than any other city in the world.

The tragedy that occurred this week is heartbreaking.

The display of unity, love, and forgiveness to follow heals all wounds.

I love that the victims’ families and the rest of the Charleston can bind together in the face of such ruthless hate and say “I forgive you.”

I don’t care who you are. That’s one powerful message.

Where other cities riot, we hold hands.

Can you get more amazing than that?

And yet, as I passed by the State House this weekend, I witnessed a throng of angry protesters.

I get the protest. Yes, take it down.

But will doing so reverse hate?

Does fabric eliminate mental illness?

Let’s face it, America. Someone who shoots up a church of people is mentally ill. No bones about it. Something is misfiring in his or her brain, and he or she needs help.

I would say the same for many acts of terror, not just this “white” guy.

Not all acts are, and mental illness is no scape goat, but a lot people sitting in our SC maximum security prison needed help a long time ago, before getting put behind bars.

Since when do we ignore this?

Since when do we treat mental health like the imaginary folklore of Tolkein or Rowling?

Because mental health is very, very real.

It’s shooting up our churches.

It’s bombing our buildings.

And it needs to be recognized, at an early stage, and properly treated.

Hate is bred, not born.

We should raise our children to love and respect one another.

As a teacher in 2015, I feel that is the case. I teach in the district he graduated from, and I know we do NOT condone his philosophy or behavior.

But what about at home? What are parents, aunts, and uncles teaching our children? Are we teaching love and acceptance in our communities?

But this takes more than hatred. This takes being sick in the head. He needed help, much sooner than June 2015. Someone should have identified this and gotten him professional aid.

Where are we with mental health, America? How are we going to change this? There are racists who don’t shoot up public events. There are racists who just sit in their own, quiet hate. And there are people who load a gun and press down on the trigger, multiple times.

Those people are sick. And they need our help. When will we recognize this? When will we do something about it? This can prevent the next tragedy. This, along with how we raise our children, can prevent the next terrorist act.

This needs to be our nation’s current conversation. What else will we do to prevent the terrorist act? Because let me tell you, it doesn’t stop at taking down a flag. It shouldn’t,

*Let me be clear. Mental health is not a cop out here. It’s not a scape goat. How we raise our kids, and how we treat mental illness is important. That will breed the real change in our country.