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Hope for Peace

Hope for Peace by Shellie Lewis 2015

I had taken a break from news media coverage for a few days only to have the first major national story I come upon be the massacre of innocent people in Charleston, South Carolina. I felt sick and depressed that innocent people peacefully attending religious services were slaughtered by a racist who now gets widespread fame in return. I felt helpless and the most constructive thing I could think to do at that time was to make a drawing. Art is good that way when you need an outlet for emotion.

The church massacre story comes on the heels of many reported cases of suspected police brutality and documented instances of police killing suspects, notably the recent shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina. In an interview after the event, author and journalist Tavis Smiley expressed the situation best: the person who shot Walter Scott to death in the back did not see him as human at all. That is the crux of racism; it creates a divide where the aggressor does not see people of color as human.

I titled the drawing “Hope for Peace” but hope is just a beginning where our society needs to start to believe peace is possible. Racism needs to end. We need to stop treating racist attitudes as some kind of minor personality deficit held by a few outliers. Racism and bigotry beget violence, like the shooting rampage at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012. We need to search for where racism is institutional and/or ingrained in our culture and find ways to create change. We need to find proactive solutions to a heritage that has been handed down from the era of slavery. We can hope for peace as a beginning, but it is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done.

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