It’s not Mental Illness. It’s not Gun Control. It’s White Supremacy.

A 21 year-old white man shoots up The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, killing 9 innocent people and the country’s response falls into 3 categories.

  1. We say Dylann Roof is crazy and we need to place him and those like him in mental institutions.
  2. We argue about had better gun laws.
  3. We pick apart Roof’s background to uncover what could have ever brought this normal sweet kid to commit such an act.

Rarely do we see people attribute this domestic terrorist attack to racism. Dylann Roof is a white supremacist. He ran a website called lastrhodesian.com, a reference to the white-minority ruled African country of Rhodesia in the 1960s and 1970s (now Zimbabwe). His license plate is the Confederate flag. According to Kara Bolonik, in her article Dylann Roof Is a Racist and a Terrorist. That’s All You Need to Know About Him  for Dame Magazine, before firing his gun, Roof said:

“I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country and you have to go.”

It’s easy and ableist to say Roof is mentally ill. To do so is to say he is not like us. We would never do something like that. He is unstable, if he were neurotypical he would never have committed such an act. In one fell swoop we discount the evidence above and place Roof into a neat package that is easily digestable and separate from ourselves. By this logic, nine black people are dead because Roof is mentally ill.

No. Nine black people are dead because Roof is a white supremacist. Tell it like it is.

CNN’s coverage in the online article Shooting Suspect in Custody After Charleston Church Massacre makes references to a past arrest warrant in February and a possibility that Roof was addicted to opium or other drugs. This is another derailment tactic to keep us away from the issue at hand. Whether or not Roof was on drugs, had done drugs, or never touched drugs in his life is irrelevant. He purposefully shot 9 black people, with the express wish to cause terror.

The same CNN article diverts word space to whether Roof’s father bought him a gun for his 21st birthday, or whether Roof bought the gun himself with birthday money. Although our country needs stronger gun control laws, this is not a case about gun violence. Gun laws are not the issue.

We should be asking what culture he lives in and we contribute to where a young man can have a Confederate flag on his license plate and where the streets in his state are named after Confederate generals and where black men and women die every day at the hands of police brutality. We need to ask how we contribute to a world which supports white supremacy and masks our racism under ableism and issues of gun control.

And as we spend hours and days analyzing Roof, we cannot forget that he murdered 9 people and these people have have names and lives. Join me in mourning:

Cynthia Hurd, 54 years old
Suzy Jackson, 87 years old
Ethel Lee Lance, 70 years old
Rev. De’Payne Middleton-Doctor, 49 years old
Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41 years old
Tywanza Sanders, 26 years old
Rev. Daniel L. Simmons, 74 years old
Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45 years old
Myra Thompson, 59 years old

What we can do now is mourn the dead and change our behavior to create a country that is not dominated by white supremacy.

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Boston Bombing and American Rights

Recently I’ve been expanding my views beyond feminism. For all the academic talk about intersecting identities, I know that I am both a feminist and an American citizen who cares about my rights in both categories. I cannot ignore areas where either piece of my life is ignored. I cannot ignore the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

While it is frightening enough that this happened earlier this week, I am more concerned about the government’s reaction. According to truthdig.com–an independent news site–Obama has ordered heightened security across the nation. It is not clear what measures will be taken to ensure our safety, but I do not believe our safety is the government’s top concern. No matter the cause of the attack, the mainstream media is using the bombing as propaganda to divide America.

While Obama has not directly called the attack “an act of terror” mainstream news has latched onto the word “terrorism.” Terrorism is technically a word designated to refer to violence done for political purposes, the word has been hijacked. It is now synonymous with foreign threats and 9/11. And because this attack is considered a threat to national security (until it is known whether it is foreign or domestic) the US government wants to err on the side of safety and place catching the perpetrators as their top priority. Except, I have a hard time believing this.

The day after the attack was supposed to be a National Call Day to get the American public’s opinion on gun control. Because of the bombing, that has been put on hold. Why is a talk meant to deal with violence suspended due to violence? Just because an act of terror was committed does not mean the previous acts of violence are suddenly ancient history.

While I would want to believe our government is trying to protect us by placing our security first, security encompasses more than these bombings. If the highest concern of the US government was to keep us safe, the talks on gun control would be expanded to include all violence and terror, not postponed.