Of Course It’s About Race

Last night, in Charleston, SC, there was an individual terrorist attack motivated by white supremacist ideology that left 9 people dead.

So of course, some people are all “Why do we have to make this about race?”

Because, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, IT’S ABOUT RACE. Most people can look back at things like lynchings in the Jim Crow South and say, “Yeah, that was about race.” But when something pretty much exactly on par with that happens now, there seems to be an awful lot of forgetfulness and confusion, particularly from White Americans.

Time for some consciousness-raising. So if you don’t think that this is a racially motivated terrorist hate crime, read on.

If any majority identified person commits an act of violence and hatred toward a group of marginalized people in a place that is historically and socially identified as being part of that marginalized identity group, it’s a hate crime. Pretty clear and simple. If someone shoots up a Pride Parade, that’s a hate crime. If someone blows up NOW headquarters: hate crime. If someone heads into an African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historically and socially Black and African-American institution and commits an act of violence: HATE CRIME.

And yet, people seem to be confused. Especially a lot of White people. Especially Fox News.

They declared this an “Attack on Faith” this morning. Let’s reevaluate that and see that it’s not an attack on faith, it’s an attack on Black people of faith. It’s an attack on Black people by a person who used the comfort and security provided by faith in a premeditated and strategic way to make his victims even more vulnerable. Elizabeth Hasselbeck wants to know “If we aren’t safe in our own churches, then where are we safe?” Elizabeth, you are safe in your church, don’t you worry. The problem we are facing here is not being safe while Christian, it’s being safe while Black. Fox News is so deep in denial about this being about race, that they think that maybe the police chief’s description of events as a “hate crime” is referring to it being a hate crime against Christians. Because we see an awful lot of widespread oppression of Christians in America these days… So again, time for some consciousness-raising.

I give you examples 1 through 4 of why this is a terrorist act that’s about race:

  1. Roof is not just your standard white person who is kind of racist. Roof is a straight up white supremacist. Facebook photos with patches symbolic of apartheid governments, confederate flag license plate, telling his roommate that “He said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.” Side note to roommates everywhere: if you are sitting on the couch playing xbox and drinking a beer and your roommate says he wants to start a civil war, kill a bunch of people, and then kill himself, you should probably DO SOMETHING. 
  2. This terrorism expert gives a very nice explanation of what terrorism is and why people aren’t seeing this as that.
  3. This happened in a historically Black place with huge cultural and social significance. That is no coincidence.
  4. Racism runs deep in our nation and in South Carolina, where they fly a confederate flag outside of the state house. If that’s not an institutionalized thumbs up to racism against Black people, I truly don’t know what is.

Black lives matter.

Racism kills.