By The Prophet of Life
Imagine being murdered within the sanctity of a church. The place where most people go to find answers and to worship God. You would think a church would be the one place that people can be protected from evil. This week however, American’s discovered that not even a church is safe for black people.
At 8:16 P.M. On Wednesday, June 17, a twisted 21 year old entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston South Carolina. He sat and watched a bible study group for a while. A survivor said the young man shouted “I have to do it. You’re raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go.” at the group. Then he took out a gun and began shooting. At the end 9 people were dead and one was injured. Footage from security cameras at the church show the young man entering the church.
The young man has been identified as Dylann Roof. His father gave him a gun for his 21st birthday. He told people at a public gathering that he was going to kill a bunch of people on June 17th. Roof is a racist fueled by drug addiction. He began by telling racist jokes in middle school and ended with telling a friend that “black people are taking over the world” and “Somebody needed to do something about it for the white race” a few weeks ago. Roof was apprehended 11 hours after the shooting after his sister tipped off authorities.
Roof’s roommate reported that Roof had been planning something like the shooting for months. The roommate Dalton Tyler also said that Roof wanted to start a race war and that he was planning on committing suicide after he committed the act. Roof outlined his plans at a trailer park he frequented last week but many of the people there thought he was joking or just weird. Roof had drifted into being more of a loner over the past couple of years. He had dropped out of high school years before and had no job.
It had been reported that Roof had black friends in high school and on facebook. I submit that he had black acquaintances in high school and on facebook. Friends are people you hang out with, invite into your home and go out and do fun things with. Roof didn’t do that with his black “Friends”. While he had black friends on facebook, his facebook page also had a photo showed him wearing a jacket with two patches, one of the apartheid era South Africa and one of Rhodesia, another government where white people controlled and brutalized a nation of black people. Black people being facebook friends with someone like that are likely black people who were unaware of his racist overtones. Or people who just didn’t take them seriously. Racism however is serious.
The real tragedy in the South Caroline Church Shooting goes beyond the loss of life. It goes beyond the belief in the safety of a church. It is the fact that the shooting could have been prevented. There were signs. The murderer did broadcast what he was going to do. Yet he was allowed to own a gun. Yet he was ignored or dismissed as a crackpot.
Dylann Roof will not succeed in his dream of starting a race war. Cooler heads will prevail. Dylann Roof’s actions may serve to raise racial tensions but they also highlighted the cracks in the safety net people assume can protect them. Dylann Roof can also serve to illustrate the insidious nature of racism, beginning with a joke and ending with the murder of innocents. If nothing else, these are the lessons America can learn from this whole nightmare. These are the lessons we must learn if we are to avoid this senseless tragedy being repeated in other cities with more victims.
An Excerpt from the book Black in America:
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