Dylan Roof: An Extremist Not an Anomaly

He’s an extremist, but not entirely an anomaly. And there are those along the spectrum who believe parts of what he wrote in his manifesto (it’s what many have believed for most of American history so of course the ideas persist). And his admission of “subconscious white supremacy” being taught in schools is accurate, sadly leaving even many African Americans to believe some of these things about themselves.

We talk about race because racist hatred is alive in this country and we want people to stop pretending as though it’s dead or there’s only one Dylan Roof and then no other racists. Or that people who share his beliefs don’t sometimes hold public office, or teach in schools, or hand out sentences as judges, or prosecute as a DA, or become police officers, or become hiring managers, or create zoning laws.

The things he has ascribed to my entire race are hurtful and mind boggling, but many people in this country don’t know a single black person well and accept the media’s perspective and whatever their surrounding culture tells them about us. And then the “rare, smart, and nonviolent negro” (read:President Obama) is an exception.

Then we’re not looked at as human, but as the inferior kind. We don’t get stories written up about our troubled homes like Dylan Roof does when we make mistakes and get penalized more severely from the classroom to the courtroom (see Jason Okonofua’s work). We’re labeled thugs, and our “violent nature” is highlighted, not the socioeconomic circumstances and conditions.

I have too many words for all of this but even as I write, there’s this voice saying “your white friends are going to think you’re overreacting and talking about race too much”. But it’s too important to talk about and my only intent is to foster understanding, empathy, and love. And that’s it.

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