It’s definitely summer here. As the sun sets, the skies often turn dark me. The darkness is followed by the rolls of thunder and the flash of lightning on the horizon.
There’s a mad dash to the porch to pull in the riding toys we’ve been using daily since quarantine, so they don’t rust. Sometimes as the rain begins to pour and the porch door opens a dog that’s been left outside rushes in.
These are the days that remind us that the summer sun and the summer heat do have counters. The evening storms also bring cool morning breezes.
The summer storms aren’t the only storms we are encountering. Every day here in our state, the number of case numbers roll in as the day begins to wind down. Every night there are reports of protests around the country. Every day there are stories of another soul who has lost their life from police brutality.
And as the storms roll in, some of us make a mad dash to avoid the conversations and confrontations. Some of us are glad that the porch door is finally open and we can find others who are seek to provide sanctuary. Some of us have been out in the storm so long our voices are getting rusty.
“Let justice roll down like waters and righteous like a mighty stream.” Martin Luther King Jr. Letter from a Birmingham Jail
This week 100 years ago, women earned the right to vote in the United States, but not every state was in favor of giving women this right. Matthew Isbell points out that there were noticeable patterns across the country. As I looked at the stark, glaring red of South Carolina, I wondered how much had changed over the past 100 years. Women have been elected to serve on the state and national level, but is there an undercurrent, a subtext that pervades our state and our culture here in South Carolina that continues to try to limit a women’s influence?
As a female clergy in the Bible Belt of South Carolina, there have been more times than not that I have been asked again what I do after I answer I am a pastor. This hasn’t changed in the five years since I have been pastoring in South Carolina. The number of women whose stories I read and hear who have been taught that their role is to raise children and to be a homemaker hasn’t decreased over the past five years and has actually increased.
Although South Carolina is no longer the deadliest state for women to live in due to domestic violence, we are still ranked number six in the nation and just this week faced the horrible realization that domestic violence doesn’t just impact women, but children too. There are still many, many women who live in fear of their lives and their children’s lives in our state but don’t have the financial means to create a life independent of an abusive partner, especially a life in which they can also support their children.
Living in the capital city of the first state to secede from the Union before the Civil War reminds us that history matters and that the voices that wanted to secede a protect slavery still exist in the descendants and power and money that came on the backs of other people. Living in the capital city where many people come to receive medical services from the Veteran’s hospital is a daily reminder that there is not enough affordable housing for people living on fixed incomes and that there are not lasting protections for those who fought to protect our country. Even though South Carolina made a name for itself because of its ability to grow so many different cash crops, we are living in the reality of food deserts where there aren’t fresh fruits and produce available for miles and miles.
Our history matters and the voices that spoke out to support slavery and racism and to limit voices of women, African Americans and anyone considered other still impact the way our city and our state operate. We cannot move forward until we take a long look at our history as a state. We’ve already seen multiple presidential candidates visit South Carolina because we are a powerful player on the national political stage. I just hope we can move towards a future where we make a name for ourselves for something besides oppressing, silencing and enslaving other people.