Dylan Roof executed a plan to murder black people. He said as much. His aim, evidently, was to do his part to wipe out what he perceived as a threatening part of the American population, black people. Although he managed to murder nine human beings, he failed to achieve his goal. Instead of initiating the race war indicated in his "manifesto," Dylan Roof has ignited the strongest, most activistic conversation about race this country has seen in decades.
For a long time I have maintained my position that racism in America is far worse now than it was during my childhood in the 1960s. Back then discrimination was widespread and rampant, but organized hate was minimal compared to what it is now. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), by the end of 2014 there were 930 known hate groups active in America. It is known that the majority of these groups are based in a white supremacy philosophy and lifestyle. White supremacy is simply the contemporary outgrowth of a time when it was legal in the United States for white Americans to own human beings.
Some perspective: The SPLC reports that in the year 2000 there were 602 known hate groups in America. That’s just 15 years ago. That same year there were 194 known “patriot” groups.
Here is how racism has morphed into the mainstream since the 1960s. Back then, of course, there was the KKK. And there was the lesser heard of White Citizens Councils, groups that fought desegregation of just about everything, although the primary focus was keeping the nation’s schools segregated. That was then, but as recently as 2007, the Council of Conservative Citizens, which is the modern outgrowth of the old White Citizens Council, had this to say on its own website: “We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called
Today it is difficult for any group to gain national recognition or credibility if it overtly labels itself anti-black. So, instead we have become a nation of liberal vs. conservative as it pertains to all things race related. That’s unfortunate, because there are many fine politically conservative Americans whose ideology is sullied by hate groups that choose to fly under the banner of conservatism.
Little did young Dylan Roof know that each shot he fired in the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston served only to ignite a fire under the American people. Rarely do we see the type of mass activism these days that we have seen in opposition to the display of the Confederate flag. And so, to all of the narrow-thinking Facebookers who keep sarcastically posting comments about how taking down the flag won’t solve anything, consider this: No one is trying to convince you that racism will end with the disappearance of the flags. No one is trying to convince you that your Southern heritage doesn’t count; it’s simply that there are parts of the Southern experience that we cannot in good conscience emphasize in contemporary America. The flag is a symbol of a time when a relatively young America made a tragic mistake in judgment, forcing human beings to become property. And most importantly, no one is trying to tell you what to think. If anything, you are being encouraged to think bigger – to be bigger.
Despite public protest and widespread national support for removal of the Confederate flag from the State Capitol building, it took South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley one full week to publicly call for the flag’s removal. Still, that effort has to wind its way through the General Assembly, which actually adjourned on June 4. Lawmakers are due to return next week to work on budget considerations, and at that time it is expected they will take up the flag issue.
|SC Governor Nikki Haley|
Why should this issue wait another hour, much less another week in South Carolina? We would all like to believe that Governor Haley does not support the subordination of black citizens in South Carolina, particularly since blacks make up 27.9 per cent of the state’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Why doesn’t Governor Haley simply issue an executive order and have the flag removed? The Governor of Alabama has already done so, and the flag has been taken down from the state capitol building. Perhaps Haley is sending it to the General Assembly because it is not politically advantageous in her own state for her to issue an executive order. But, to paraphrase a certain U.S. president from yesteryear: “Governor Haley….take down that flag.”