By Payton Pruitt
On June 17, 2015 the country was shocked and despaired to hear about a horrific shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. A white 21 year old man named Dylann Roof had killed nine people in the church, simply because they were black in a deluded attempt at “saving” his country from them. His story has sparked interest with millions of people who are surprised to hear that racism still exists. Those that are surprised, of course, are those privileged enough to avoid it and make themselves out to be good people when they really just want to avoid it altogether. This event has caused many people to call out the media on their treatment of white murderers, as they have with many crazed gunmen in the past. It has also caused people to reconsider gun control, and look into who is best suited for president based on their political stance from this event.
Many ideas and stories are being circulated in this event. One thing it is considering is banning the confederate flag, which is something that this journalist is in complete support of, though it obviously will not solve the ultimate problem. People are crying for gun control. Gun enthusiasts are demanding guns be placed in church so as to avoid this tragedy should it occur again. Those on the opposite side are demanding that guns be removed from the public entirely, and only given to those in positions of security and defense. There are those crying for the end of racism, and there are those crying for the killer to say that he was only a troubled youth that didn’t know any better. This is not true as those who say it simply do not wish to believe that one of their own could commit such heinous acts in the name of a nauseatingly disgusting cause.
During this time, it is important to look over these thoughts and figure out what the best solution might be so as to prevent this tragedy. The answer is not gun control, nor is it removing the symbols of racism. The answer is education, ending ignorance and bigotry by showing one another who they are killing. Roof believes that he killed potential rapists and enemies of the state – When questioned about his actions by Tywanza Sanders, who tried to talk him down, Roof said, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” He did not think that he was killing pastors like Doctor Depayne Middleton, Daniel Simmons, and Clementa C. Pinckney, or Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. He did not think that he was killing members of the church like the sexton Ethel Lee Lance, or the bible study teacher Myra Thompson, or even members of the bible study like Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, and her nephew Tywanza Sanders. He refused to see them as human, and so in his bigotry, he killed them.
Much of the media is trying to make him out as a deluded young soul that lost his way; that was once an innocent child who could do no wrong. The victims were also once innocent children, but they don’t seem as important as the one that held the gun. A hate crime is always quick to garner attention, as well it should, but when the focus is placed more on the killer than the victims, one can’t help but worry about the state of mind when it comes to the people of the United States.
Much of the audience is also trying to promote gun control or gun distribution. They either say that guns should be banned, or they should be easier for the public to have so that they can protect themselves and prevent this from happening ever again. When a rampaging maniac is intent on killing a group of people, no gun bans or laws will stop them. This is an unfortunate truth that should be faced.
Another unfortunate truth is that many are realizing that what their ancestors believed over a century ago is still very much practiced, even though it is considered to be disgusting and part of the mindset of the lowest scum of the earth. The world has not moved on from its racism. It has only taken a different form, which can still turn into the stomach-turning hatred that it once did when the Ku Klux Klan was at its peak.
It is important that the next generation of potential racists, those who are privileged enough to believe they can avoid it, to know that it still very much exists. That it is still out there and hurting, killing innocent people. It is important for them to be educated, as well as others to know that it should not be supported, that stereotypes should be avoided, and that one should accept people at their individual levels, rather than accepting all races as a whole. While this journalist is a great supporter of the idea of everyone being on equal ground, it is important to recognize the differences in how those people became equal. It is important to recognize any struggles they may have gone through to be considered human.
This article has taken quite a political, if not very sentimental standpoint. This event is just one of many in the overarching discovery of racism being alive and well. It has sparked many ideas and inspired others to take action against this way of thinking. People are rising up, they want the voices of those that have been stifled to be heard. The upcoming generation is one that will fight for human rights that will do what they can to make sure that there will never have to be another fight, there will never have to be another hatred-filled attack, and they will never have to see people struggle simply for being who they are.
It may not be the best message for this article, but it is always important to hope for the future. No matter what.