— Daren Stoltzfus (@DarenStoltzfus) June 19, 2015
This message, spoken by the son of one of the victims of the Charleston shooting this week, is actually what I am hanging onto in my own life right now. It’s crazy to feel like I can identify so closely to parts of this senseless tragedy. My heart breaks for the Charleston community, of which my husband and I were a part a number of years ago while he was in culinary arts school at Johnson and Wales University.
During the custody hearing for my 5-year-old niece the first week of June, I sat in the courtroom and heard words of the kind of hatred that led to the shooting in Charleston and watched members of the family in which I grew up support the man who had spoken those words and acted violently against my sister.
He claimed domestic violence had never been “established” but even though the judge ruled in his favor with the primary custody (a decision I will never understand and that was based on outright lies), it has now been established as a part of the judge’s order, in which she said there was to be no domestic violence (and no racial slurs used) “around the child.” Oh, okay. That makes me feel better.
I was utterly ashamed and embarrassed by these people who, as my husband has put it, basically babysat me for 15 years. I have not had contact with them since the custody issues began and they have supported my sister’s ex, even though they knew how he had been treating her. I was appalled when the woman who raised me was questioned about knowing of the domestic violence and responded that she didn’t see it as domestic violence. To which my sister’s attorney pressed her, asking if she didn’t view a TV being thrown off its stand as violence, or glass broken on the floor? She said she guessed she viewed it more as “anger” and, as abusive people are so well known for blaming victims, went on to blame my sister for “pushing him” to that behavior.
Well, I know why she views it this way … because she herself has anger issues. Not to mention the accusations she made against my sister in court that were false … but are true about her. The medications she claimed my sister was supposed to be on … well, guess who’s on medication? Yep, she is … for anxiety.
Yet, the Court ruled in his favor for custody. On that day, hate may have been stronger than love … but over time love and truth will prevail. Along with Chris Singleton, I do believe that as well.
One day, there will be no more hatred. There will be no more evil. There will be no more color. Until then, those of us who stand for good must stand together and do whatever we can to raise our children to love everyone equally.