Dylann Storm Roof was a racist with a gun. He had a Facebook page with a picture that showed him wearing symbolic patches that celebrated Apartheid and slavery. His license plate was an image of the confederate flag. A flag soaked in blood, drenched in misery and raised by graft and corruption. Apparently, he was not someone on whom the value of symbolism was lost.
He was a resident of a state that continues to fly that flag – despite the fact that it is a symbol of white supremacy, sedition and treason – near the grounds of the state Capitol building. A battle was fought over the legitimacy of that flag, and South Carolina lost $7 billion in revenue through an economic boycott that was organized by blacks who refused to visit or spend in the state.
Last night, Roof walked into a house of worship, asked where the minister was seated, and in an act of hypocrisy that was true to that flag, he found a seat near the reverend, spent an hour in feigned fellowship, and then, he pulled out a weapon and proceeded to slaughter the parishioners and the pastor.
The scene of the crime was a church, but it too was also a symbol. A symbol of resistance with a rich and long history of anti white supremacist activity. It was a church that was founded by Denmark Vesey, the renowned freedom fighter and leader of a failed slave revolt.
In 1822, Vesey had attempted to raise the consciousness of both free and enslaved blacks who were residents of Charleston, South Carolina, one of the key centers of the US slave trade. Vesey was an educated man who hungered for freedom and he was willing to either kill or die for it. One of the planned tevolt’s collaborators, who was privy to the plot, divulged the plan to his master. The plot was foiled, and Vesey was tortured and hanged. Last night was the anniversary of the discovery of Vesey’s plan.
There will be those who say that Dylann Storm Roof was an insane lone gunman, and that he may be, but he was organized. If you believe that racism is a sickness then you would be right. But racism is more; it is a system of oppression with financial gain as it’s root cause and Dylan Roof was the local representative.
In his cowardly bid for infamous immortality, Dylann Roof revealed something that many will find difficult to accept; he is a soldier at war. While he cold-bloodedly murdered six women and three men, he yelled, “You rape our women, and you’re taking over the country. You must go.”
When cotton and it’s picking emerged as the economic engine that made the US a player on the world’s stage, and the slave labor that picked that cotton was not to be compensated, justifications had to be made for the inherent inhumanity of the whole enterprise. This is the fundamental and underlying reason for racist philosophy. We continue to struggle with this basic truth to this day.
Though Roof may be deluded (I doubt that any of those six female victims posed a potential sexual threat to any white woman) he was clear in his purpose: black life poses a threat to his worldview and order as he understands it. His state legislature flies a flag that he believes is his own, and that symbolizes the continued oppression of blacks, and celebrates the institution of slavery while waving in defiance of the defeat of the seditious traitors and slave masters who referred to themselves as the confederacy. Representatives of law enforcement, in Roof’s region have continuously taken the lives of unarmed blacks without impunity. In neighboring North Charleston, a cop shot a fleeing black man in the back and murdered him because he thought that he would get away with it. Young Trayvon Martin’s life was ended by a sick vigilante, and he did get away with it. So why shouldn’t a proud young son of the confederacy not be inclined to murder nine unarmed worshipers at bible study? Everyone else is doing it, right?