Dylann Roof goes into Emanuel African Methodist Church, a historically black church, kills the Pastor and 8 persons during Bible study and some people raise the gun control issue. I understand about guns and gun control legislation. The facts of the Charleston church killings are about race hatred in America. And any discussion of gun control in these particular killings dilutes and diminishes the real reason of racial hatred towards blacks. No one ever said 911 was about faulty security checks in airplane flying schools from which the terrorists learned how to fly airplanes but never learned how to land them. No one said Columbine school killings and the Boston Marathon bombings were about making home grown bombs. No one said the 1963 killings of 4 little girls bombed at a Birmingham church was about bombs.
To be black in America means being a target for terrorism and hatred whether blacks want to be or not. Being black in America means no place feels safe without possible harassment, petty police stops, or death lurking in unknown places. From playing loud music (Jordan Davis), walking home in a gated community ( Trayvon Martin), riding the subway (Oscar Grant), seeking help on a porch (Renisha McBride), swimming at a pool party (McKinney, Texas teens), walking in the neighborhood ( Freddie Gray), seeking help after a car accident ( Jonathan Ferrell), standing on a city street (Eric Garner), playing on a playground ( Tamir Rice) to being anywhere in America ( African Americans) nowhere is off limits for race to play a major part in life or death situations for African America.
I watched and read President Obama’s words on Roof’s killings of 9 innocent blacks as he acknowledged the issue of gun violence while secondarily commenting on the issue of race and “the dark part of our history”. I had to pause to reflect on why a stronger statement about race as the culprit was not made. We need to stop sweeping race under the rug as the culprit when race is the real reason for some killings. We need to value the humanity of African Americans and recognize that a pattern of racial hatred appears in many settings these days. Sometimes the events like killings in a Charleston church remind blacks of a return to what was believed to be a bygone era. Yet, sometimes in 2015, it appears like 1950’s. On Twitter, many African Americans expressed their views about race and the Emanuel AME church killings. Several particular tweets struck me as summing up the present situation in America for African Americans:
And after Roof was captured, we find that by his own words, his acts of terrorism were out of racial hatred. Roof, by his friends’ accounts, said blacks were taking over the world and something needed to be done to save the white race. And a survivor of the church massacre stated Roof spoke these words, ““I have to do it. You’re raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go.” And so let’s not water down the real reason for the killings with talks of gun control, mental illness or any other lame excuse. Let’s speak the truth on this one. The Charleston shootings of 9 innocent people in Emanuel AME church was all about race by a home grown American terrorist.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former prosecutor. She appears on Al Jazeera America, MSNBC, BET, C-Span, NPR, PBS, CCTV- America, Fox 5 (WTTG) and TV One among others, speaking on legal news and crime issues.