Let me begin this article by offering my deepest condolences to the people impacted by the terrible tragedy that occurred this past week in Charleston, South Carolina. Senseless violence has struck yet again in our country, and it truly saddens me to know that people have to suffer through the loss of a loved one as a result of it. I first want to send the families, friends, neighbors, and everyone else that has suffered through this horror, my deepest sympathies.
Continuing onto the story itself that has emerged out of Charleston, South Carolina. It was reported that around 9pm on Wednesday night, there was a shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, a historically black church located in Charleston. That reported shooting was a multiple homicide with eight people, who were said to be attending a bible study at the church, confirmed dead. A ninth victim later succumbed to their wounds at a nearby hospital. The suspect, a white male in his early 20’s, was apprehended the next morning nearly 250 miles away in North Carolina without incident and extradited back to South Carolina, where he awaits trial.
Before I get into any reaction to the story. I want to let you, the readers, understand something. I will not be referring to the suspect by his name. It will not be mentioned once in this article. He will be referred to as the shooter or the suspect when necessary. The more we say his name the more he becomes a symbol for the twisted beliefs that lead him to attack and kill. The more recognition murders like him receive, the greater the likelihood of a similar attack by people who share the same deranged terroristic mindset. And yes, I mean terroristic, because that’s exactly what he is. He’s not a “loner caught in ‘Internet Evil,’” as his family claims (NBC News). He’s a terrorist.
He is probably deranged and potentially mentally ill, as numerous people and news sources will say, but then again, so is every terrorist. Any person who believes in the need to kill and massacre innocent people is deranged, no matter the reason they give. In this case however, the shooters “reason” was race motivated. It had nothing to do with a country or a religion. It was a terrorist act solely motivated by race in an attempt to start a modern day civil war. He let one of the people in the church live simply because he wanted someone to tell everyone exactly what happened there. The fact that he allowed a survivor to instill fear amongst other citizens, to spread his message, is abhorrent.
Furthermore, the fact that this terroristic act was racially motivated is something that has become all too common in our country nowadays. The point of this article is not to nitpick incidents and discuss the racial divide that, without a doubt, exists and seems to have deepened within this country, from the Baltimore riots to the numerous police brutality occurrences that have been under scrutiny. Rather, the intention of this article is to discuss the fact that the previously mentioned racial divide existing in this country could very well be the downfall of it, and how this terrible tragedy is a perfect example of it.
Our country faces threats from the outside that we fail to recognize those that come from within. We have made so many divisions with other countries that we fail to realize the divide we have created within ourselves. Our country allows freedom of speech, as it should. However, to have the Confederate flag flying high on the South Carolina state house lawn is an utter atrocity. Are we not in the 21st century? Are people still so close-minded? Or are people simply that ignorant? There’s nothing wrong with being proud to live in the South. However, the South today is not what the Confederate flag represents. What it stands for is a South that believes in the enslavement of African Americans. It stands for only selective groups of people having rights. It is a flag that represents everything that our country stands against. That is the flag that flies over the state of South Carolina, and that is deplorable.
While the flying of the Confederate flag over a statehouse isn’t the cause of a deranged lunatics racially motivated attack, it does not help. It supports the racial divide and all the intolerance and hatred that comes with it. If our country is to truly rise above the racial divide, the removal of the Confederate flag from a government building is a necessity, as it essentially shows government support for everything that was supposedly defeated over nearly 150 years ago. As a country we must hold ourselves to a higher standard than what we are currently at.
We must become colorblind in the sense that race will not define a person, rather their actions will. Since the shooter murdered nine innocent people, in a place of worship, in an attempt to spread terror and hatred, he is a terrorist. He is a deranged, ignorant, and racist terrorist, and there should be no question about it, but sadly there is as a result of the inconsistent racial descriptions put forth by news sources across the country. He (the shooter) is in the same class as both the Washington DC Sniper and the Boston Bomber, and should be treated exactly as they were. All of these men killed numerous innocent souls with the sole intent to spread terror and pain. The only difference between them is their skin color, and if our country cannot realize that skin color is irrelevant then we are forever doomed to live in an 1800’s mindset country that suffers from an ever-deepening racial wound. A racial wound that just when we think it heals, it’s torn back open. A country in such modern times, with a problem as large as that, is truly embarrassing.
As Jon Stewart stated in his show on the topic: “We have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other and the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal, yet pretend doesn’t exist.” Our country needs to realize the flaws that it has within itself, and it needs to fix them. The prevalence of an 1800’s mindset in our country is astounding, especially that it’s brazenly displayed by a government facility in regards to South Carolina’s statehouse. If this racial wound continues to deepen, our country will tear itself apart.
Finally, while the name of the killer was not mentioned throughout this piece for reasons, I will mention the names of the victims. We must remember the names of these people, not the name of the ignorant and racist terrorist who took these lives. Remember them, and pray for their families in these tragic times. Susie Jackson, Myra Thompson, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. Daniel Simmons, and Rev. Sharonda Singleton: may you all rest in peace.