"A Nation Under God." What Heavenly words. Unfortunately, we live in America where "racism is America's incurable cancer." Incurable because many Americans will not accept the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that "We should treat others like we want to be treated."
I am elated by the efforts of the pastors in Sumter County to confront systemic racism and violence. Anyone who doesn't believe or admit that there is institutional racism in Sumter is unwilling to face reality.
The murder of George Floyd, a Black man who was horizontally lynched by white law enforcement officers, was more than just "the straw that broke the camel's back." This brutality was a monumental moment of enlightenment to American and other countries. Historical practices of systemic racism will result in horrific acts of violence against people of color. Floyd's death pierced the hearts of many people and validated the "Black Lives Matter" movement.
Our pastors have taken a courageous step. The creation of an "Anti-Racism Statement" is a start on their long journey to develop and implement strategies to eliminate the practices of systemic racism in our county.
Systemic racism is a form of racism expressed in the practice of social and political institutions. It can lead to such issues as discrimination in criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power and education.
Twenty years ago, July 26, 2000, I wrote a letter to the editor, which was published in The Sumter Item on Aug. 2, 2000. In that article, I said, "It's time for the faith community to intervene. Leaders of all religious denominations need to make the issue of race relations a priority." I asked the faith leaders to come together and select a Sunday in September when they will make race relations the topic of their sermon. I asked them to have workshops and seminars devoted to the issue and urge all citizens to participate actively.
We must seize the moment to eliminate systemic racism in the name of God. He is in charge and will guide our words and deeds.
EUGENE R. BATEN
Sumter County Council
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