Dylann Roof, the alleged shooter in the deaths of nine people on Wednesday has a lot of people talking about a lot of different things.
Guns. Mental Health. Racism. Terrorism.
Not a lot is known yet about Roof. He’s quiet, prone to racist remarks, has a short rap sheet for drug possession and trespassing. Roof’s room mate, Dalton Tyler, has come forward to say that he’d heard Roof actually talk about his plan to “start a civil war” through a violent act before killing himself.
This time, I hope that reporters and newscasters will ask the questions that get to the root of acts of racially motivated violence in America. Where did this man, who killed parishioners in their church during Bible study, learn to hate black people so much? Did he have an allegiance to the Confederate flag that continues to fly over the state house of South Carolina? Was he influenced by right-wing media’s endless portrayals of black Americans as lazy and violent?
I hope the media coverage won’t fall back on the typical narrative ascribed to white male shooters: a lone, disturbed or mentally ill young man failed by society. This is not an act of just “one hateful person.” It is a manifestation of the racial hatred and white supremacy that continues to pervade our society, 50 years after the Birmingham church bombing galvanized the Civil Rights Movement. It should be covered as such. And now that authorities have found their suspect, we should be calling him what he is: a terrorist.
Bottom line, it has to be a mix of all three. This is an act of gun violence in a country the is PLAGUED with gun violence. And as President Barack Obama has said “I’ve had to make comments like this too many times,” … “At some point as a country, we have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” It is also a blatant act of racism carried out by a clearly unstable person. (NOTE: unstable, NOT necessarily Mentally Ill)
I hope no one else has to die before America can unite enough to at least admit they have a problem. God forbid they get to a point where they might begin to solve it.