In a now-famous tweet, Jon Gabriel wryly remarked, "My favorite part about the Obama era is all the racial healing.”
In the public sphere, that racial healing is indeed sufficiently scarce as to justify sarcasm. Charges and countercharges of racism fill the air. Accused killers ranging from the white Dylann Roof in
Charleston, S.C., to the black Vester Flanagan in Roanoke, Va., left racial manifestos and hoped to start a race war. And even more mainstream political figures have pursued strategies of racial division and agitation, hoping to keep key voting blocs fired up for next year’s elections.
But if you leave the politicians, the pundits and the crazies aside, ordinary Americans are behaving quite differently. Maybe we should be paying more attention to that bit of good news. And maybe so should the politicians and pundits.
Charleston shooting, citizens of South Carolina, both black and white, joined hands, and more than 15,000 of them marched in a show of love and friendship. Ascolumnist Salena Zito wrote, “They met in the middle; they wept, smiled, laughed, hugged, turned strangers into friends. Homemade signs with messages of outreach, love and solidarity flapped in the wind, as prayers and hymns filled the air. There wasn't a major network or cable news channel, only local TV crews, rolling cameras to record America doing what it does best — opening its heart; the networks always seem to be on hand for looting or rioting.“
They do, indeed. But many people still noticed, even if the national agenda-setters were, as usual, more interested in spotlighting hate than love.
Likewise, last week saw 20,000 people show up for a multiracial “All Lives Matter” march in Birmingham, Ala. It could be the largest such march there since MLK.
Glenn Beck and Chuck Norris were there, but that’s not all. AL.com reports: “Alveda King, a niece of civil rights activist the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., marched in the front row. Bishop Jim Lowe, pastor of the predominantly black Guiding Light Church in Birmingham, co-organized the march with Beck and marched with him at the front. As a child, Lowe attended Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where the march started, a headquarters church for the civil rights movement in Birmingham. Lowe and his sisters were in the church when a KKK bomb blew up the church and killed four little girls on Sept. 15, 1963.” (Note: One of those girls was a childhood playmate of Condoleezza Rice.)
Once again the national news media, noted Washington Post blogger David Weigel, “was largely absent.” No time for positivity where race is concerned, I guess.