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Cervantes: The stagnation of camaraderie

BY CHRISTOPHER CERVANTES | JUNE 22, 2015 5:00 AM

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An easy way to describe my group of closely knit friends is eclectic. Each of us has vastly different backgrounds, and we can fill the spot of almost any racial profile that exists. 

We really don’t think much about this, though. Instead of identifying one another as “my black friend” or “my Latino friend,” we just drop the adjective and say “friend.” Because of this, I guess, I sometimes forget that not everyone is as lucky as us and that racial tensions are still a part of our American lives.

On June 17, a mass shooting took place in Charleston, South Carolina, at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the nation’s most historic churches, especially in regards to racially charged attacks. The shooter, a man later identified as Dylann Storm Roof, allegedly killed nine people, including South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pinckney.

This most heinous action is being investigated as both a hate crime and an act of domestic terrorism. These, mixed with reported evidence that supports contentions that Roof is a white supremacist, has placed a critical focal eye on the community and the subsequent actions.

The tragedy in Charleston is the latest in a string of highly-publicized and heavily-covered incidents that have occurred over the past several months. With each new catastrophe comes a new story that seems to point out the growing racial tensions among the people of the United States. These tensions seem to be higher than ever.

I am honestly worried. At first, I was hoping that these tensions might be caused simply by the choice of framing employed by the media, but that does not seem to be the case. Social media, despite their many flaws, have shown themselves to be tools of the common people.

The posts concerning occurrences such as Ferguson or even the “Klan” statue on the Pentacrest portray conflicted attitudes among the masses. Similarly, whenever I would bring up any of these cases for discussion, the results would be a heavily heated shouting match among once rational people.

Obviously, these incidents have affected the populace in such a passionate way that the emotional backing behind them will not simply dissipate.

Now that is apparent the tensions are, in fact, real, the question is how we should act in order to repair any damage that has been done over the year. To answer this question, we must look once again at Charleston and the actions of the deceaseds’ loved ones.

When Roof was apprehended, the family and friends of his victims all proclaimed that he was forgiven. All they ask is acknowledgment that he was wrong. I am not saying that a simple apology will magically fix the growing conflicts, but it is a start.

We must acknowledge the faults of the party involved and then make amends. It will be a rough experience but one that will lead to the healing that the people of the United States desperately need. If that happens, then we’ll be just fine.


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