Steven Banks

Saxophonist. Educator. Inclusion Advocate.

"To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable"

- Ludwig van Beethoven

A Prayer for Charleston

I have to say, firstly, that this post has nothing to do with music or the saxophone, and if you would prefer not to read into any social-political views or perspectives, this is not really the post for you.

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The shootings at Emanuel A.M.E. church are frightening, senseless, and hateful to say the least. Again and again, people argue that America is a "post-racial" society, but it's simply not true. There are far to many examples to prove that our society has not fully moved on. From the case of Trayvon Martin, and other controversial cases within the last few years, to this horrific shooting that is undeniably atrocious, it's just too much for me to take in sometimes.

There is no controversy in what has happened in Charleston, SC. There is no argument that this was anything but an act of hate. Hatred of an entire people. The suspect has been reported to have said that his motive was "to kill black people." As an African-American, this hurts, plain a simple. I ALWAYS try to look at these hate crimes with unbiased eye. I don't want to jump to conclusions or assume that every non-black person has it out for us. I truly want to believe that we are all intrinsically good. I know it is an unattainable goal to be without bias, but with this man, I don't have any thing to grasp onto at all to keep my hope that he had an ounce of humanity is in his heart. It's hard to accept the notion that any drugs he could've been taking would've been the difference between following through with this hateful act or remaining peaceful, and I, personally, don't accept that argument at this point.

As a classical musician, the fact of the matter is that I don't spend a lot of time with people that look like me. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that fact alone, but I have to say that it becomes nearly impossible for me to share these sorts of thoughts and feelings with my peers because many just can't relate. However, issues such as this shooting in Charleston just can't be brushed under the rug. Quite frankly, I think that the nation should be very sad. I don't know if I've been this sad in a long time. Just to think that someone could think this way, much less act on it, is beyond me.

This event is hitting even closer to home for me because my great-great grandfather, Rev. Lewis Ruffin Nichols, was the pastor of this church in the late 19th century. My grandfather, Rev. Ruffin Nichols Noisette, was named after him, and I, Steven Nichols Banks, continue to carry that name. My grandfather is, and always will be the greatest influence on my life. He was the kindest, most thoughtful man that I could ever imagine, and he was the one that I always looked to as a role model, whether he ever knew that or not. Just to think that some of his friends and their relatives may have been involved brings me to tears in writing this. 

I ask God that he would heal our hearts and minds, and that these deep-seated examples of hatred would be removed from our society. We will never understand these situations and how they come about, but I certainly think that we need You now and always. Be with the families of the lost and all of those effected by these horrible acts. Amen.