SC Church Massacre

SnP love 2Updated June 17, 2016

Personal message from Salt & Pepper Chefs executive producer Drakeel Burns.

In honor of today’s one-year anniversary of the Charleston Church Massacre, I am sharing the following message I first shared shortly after the shooting (with a few minor edits) because I think it is more appropriate now than ever.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Charleston, South Carolina, community grieving the loss of nine African Americans killed at a church during bible study by a white gunman.

It’s been nearly a week, and my heart is still breaking because the shooting hits so close to home.

  • My parents and most of my immediate family are from South Carolina.
  • Clementa Pinckney, the pastor and state senator who was killed, was a distant relative (he was a cousin-in-law on my dad’s side of the family).
  • Pinckney lived in my parents’ hometown, Ridgeland, and my cousin, went to high school with him.
  • My mom is an avid church goer who attends bible study every Wednesday.  In fact, she had returned from one just hours before the massacre.

Despite all of that, I believe America IS better than this, in part because of Salt & Pepper Chefs, a cooking show I created to help bridge the gaps between cultures, races, home cooks and culinary professionals.  This message is not a shameless plug for SNP Chefs.  I know America needs more than a TV program to heal our wounds, but I believe SNP Chefs shows us what is good about togetherness, and how diversity makes us stronger.

When I see white “home cook” Brian Reeve, who was raised on a hog farm in Iowa and black professional chef Terrell Danley (aka Chef Tee), a city guy who was raised in Washington, D.C., act like brothers, I smile.  Brian and Chef Tee hit it off from the start because, even though their backgrounds are different, they find common ground in their shared love of food, faith, family, people and values.  They also have the same wicked sense of humor.  (When asked “Who is salt and who is pepper?” they laugh and often say, “You tell us because salt and pepper come in different colors.”)  As a result, they respect each other and are open to learning from each other.

(Click to watch SNP Chefs playfully putting diversity front and center during a cooking demonstration on WTTG Fox 5.  Chef Tee called out Brian, a white man raised in Iowa, for using collard greens in a recipe!)

So, I am hopeful that America IS better than the racial divide that continues to cut us so deeply because as Brian and Chef Tee show us, we are more alike than we are different when it comes to the things that really matter.

Hurting but still hopeful,
Drakeel Burns, SNP Chefs Producer