FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

White Terrorism in Charleston

A white man guns down nine black people in a church in South Carolina. The state’s Confederate battle flag stays waving in the wind the next day. The white man is arrested. He is given a Kevlar jacket.

Welcome to the United States of America in 2015.

The atrocity in Charleston on June 17, 2015, exemplifies the value of black life in America today. Dylann Roof’s crime was an abomination. He slaughtered nine people in cold blood. But in the broader context of the American reality of black people and black lives, Roof’s attack is just another instance of white terrorism.

Even in light of the violence black Americans experience daily, the attack in South Carolina was shocking. Gunning down nine innocent people in a church is beyond the pale. It’s important to remember, though, that although this crime is notable for the callousness and coldness of the perpetrator- leaving people alive for the express purpose of sharing the story is some wannabe supervillain shit- the taking of black life by a white man in America is not an aberration.

The Black Lives Matter movement is a direct response to the carelessness with which white America treats the mortality of citizens of African descent. The name of the movement is a reaction to the reality. Black Americans are treated as if their lives were disposable. It is necessary to have a movement calling for the recognition that the America’s black population’s lives matter because at every turn we are shown they don’t.

Blacks are criminalized in the news media, treated as less desirable than whites in the popular culture, and presented overwhelmingly as threatening criminal elements in film and television. Americans of all colors are inculcated to see blacks as threatening, alien, dangerous.

This is terrorism.

Black Americans are killed for eating skittles. Playing with toy guns as children. Listening to loud music. Selling cigarettes on the street. Running away from police officers. Hanging out at a pool party. Attending prayer meetings. There doesn’t seem to be a way for black Americans to just be that doesn’t involve the threat of death or violence at the hands of whites.

This is terrorism.

White Americans can drive without fear of being pulled over for the color of their skin and walk down the street without fear of being stopped and frisked. Black Americans cannot. White Americans can walk up to a police officer looking for help or directions. Black Americans face the chance of death if they do the same.

This is terrorism.

Terrorism is political and social violence and coercion that has the effect of changing the standard operating procedure of the societies it affects and striking fear into the communities it assaults. Blacks in America have no static standard operating procedure. Their behavior has to change constantly to reflect the threats and intimidation. For the black community in America, even the church is a place where one cannot feel safe. Not in 1963, not in the 90s, not in 2015.

The reason for white terrorism has one simple underlying explanation. There is a sociopathic part of the national white American subconscious that refuses to allow the black community to ever rise to an equal footing, and will use whatever means necessary to maintain white supremacy. In the wake of the conclusion of the Civil War, the KKK was formed in reaction to the freeing of the slaves. The terrorizing of blacks that began after the end of slavery has continued to today.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, the position of the white American must be maintained through terror. Thus the spectacle of Dylann Roof, sociopathic mass murderer of innocent black Americans, steered gently to a waiting police car, wearing a Kevlar vest. His crime has shocked the country, but only because of its flamboyancy. After the news cycle has run through, the nation will again ignore the Black Lives Matter movement, the issue of race relations in America, and white terrorism.

Until, of course, it inevitably happens again.

Eoin Higgins has a master’s degree in history from Fordham University. He lives in New York.

More articles by:

Eoin Higgins has a master’s degree in history from Fordham University. He lives in New York.

December 18, 2018
Charles Pierson
Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Waters of American Democracy
Patrick Cockburn
Will Anger in Washington Over the Murder of Khashoggi End the War in Yemen?
George Ochenski
Trump is on the Ropes, But the Pillage of Natural Resources Continues
Farzana Versey
Tribals, Missionaries and Hindutva
Robert Hunziker
Is COP24 One More Big Bust?
David Macaray
The Truth About Nursing Homes
Nino Pagliccia
Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?
Paul Edwards
Make America Grate Again
David Rosnick
The Impact of OPEC on Climate Change
Binoy Kampmark
The Kosovo Blunder: Moving Towards a Standing Army
Andrew Stewart
Shine a Light for Immigration Rights in Providence
December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail