You could say it was only a church service but it was more than that.
You could say it was just about a wedding service but it was more than that.
You could say it was just a lot of fuss about a flag but it was much more than that too.
It was quite a week, last week, in the United States of America and, just possibly, it will be seen as the week that made the year 2015 historically significant. The Supreme Court didn’t just rule in favour of Same-Sex Marriage but, the day before, put its seal on the long fought Obamacare. Is equality really bursting out all over this June?
In that church in Charleston, mourning the murders of those nine black American Christians, President Obama didn’t just sing a song and intone an emotional homily, he was calling for a turning point in American – and World – inequality. As the man said: “For too long we’ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present.” He repeated that phrase “for too long” and it was echoed emotionally by the gathered congregation but, more than that, the televised speech, inspired many, many more people of good heart to echo the sentiment world-wide. For too long indeed.
He was talking about racial inequality and its place in America’s ‘original sin’ – he was also talking about social inequality and, goddamit, he might just have made almost everyone sit up and think.
We all knew that slavery was wrong but he said it. We all knew that the difference between the rich and the poor was wrong but he said it. We all knew that the inequality perpetuated in questions of gender, sexuality, class and race were wrong but he said it. We all knew that gun violence was wrong but he said it. It was quite a speech. He didn’t just say it but, whether you agree that his presidency has been a success or not, he has made a difference already and, who knows, he may have chosen just the right time in American history to make the best speech of his career.
So, yes, America is now celebrating same-sex marriage equality and the old prejudices that prevented such a thing in the past are a’ tumbling down, opening the way for more, and bigger, equalities for all regardless of sexual orientation. For too long this inequality.
Now the nation appears to be acknowledging the pain that is symbolised by the Confederacy flag – 150 years after the American Civil War. As the president said. For too long. And now it’s probable that the flag will be lowered for good outside the capitol building in South Carolina and, soon, I hope, it will be lowered everywhere recognising that it is a poisoned symbol and that not just slavery was wrong but all resistance of civil rights for the people was wrong too.
Could the nation now even change its mind about gun laws? I hope so. For too long 30 people a day are being shot down in the USA.
Whatever happens next, one thing is for sure, last week was a great week in the long march towards the ending of prejudice. It is still a battle though as I’m sure Barrack Obama knows – prejudice has long roots and grows even in the ranks of some of those people celebrating same-sex unions and into the very ranks of that AME church where the President preached civil rights. There is still a long way to go but we have all been helped on our way by the amazing grace of Barrack Obama. If saying these things wasn’t enough, he also sang it: