Judge Reveals Real Victims In Charleston: Dylann Roof’s Family

This racism stuff is all in our heads. We have a black (biracial) president, MLK has a national holiday.... What else do you want?!?

This racism stuff is all in our heads. We have a black (biracial) president, MLK has a national holiday…. What else do you want?!?

Over the past day or so, I’ve been accused of being a “Leftist Race-baiter,” I’ve been accused of making things worse for focusing on the reality of racism instead of sweeping the problem under the rug (along with the very real experiences of people whose skin happens to be a different shade than mine), and I have been accused of “Fanning the race flames.” I feel like this is sort of like someone who points out the problem our country has with obesity being called a “fat-baiter” when he points out how many foods out there are killing people. I am trying very hard to stay positive though the last couple days, but I have to admit I’ve spent most of my time in despair. And in bed. I’m not going to lie to you: I don’t smell good. Not taking a shower is one of the forms my grief is taking. My wife is…. not thrilled.

Just a lone wolf. Not in any way a symptom of a larger problem.

Just a lone wolf. Not in any way a symptom of a larger problem.

Here’s something that I’ve noticed: People are confused by the difference between the concept of “a racist” and “Racism.” And when you point out Racism, what many people HEAR is you calling them “a racist.” And their definition of “a racist” is a person is a person who secretly (or overtly) hates people on the basis of the color of their skin. The news that has come out over the past 24 hours surrounding the murders of nine beautiful people at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church has made it pretty clear that Dylann Roof was “a racist.” So when you point out “Racism,” people hear an accusation of being like the murderous 21 year-old with a “Confederate States of America” license plate and Apartheid-era South African and Rhodesian flags on his coat. And they get defensive. “That guy is an aberration! A mentally ill lone wolf!! I don’t know anyone like that!!!”

“What water? I don’t see any water….”

But pointing out Racism is different than pointing out a racist. Racism is an unseen SYSTEM–a way of doing things, upheld by our social institutions–that effectively uses discrimination and injustice to separate and diminish people of color…. And by so doing, keep those of us with white skin the ones who have the power. I’ve talked about it before, but I have been pulled over SO MANY TIMES without getting a ticket. When the officer sees me, I can almost feel him or her assuming the best about me…. and that’s an advantage. Racism is the force that makes me more nervous when a black man walks up to my car than I would be if the man walking up to my car had skin that looks like mine. It is the system that has 50% less call backs on resumes with “black-sounding” names than on the same exact resume with a white-sounding name. And so, SO much more. In a fish bowl, a fish might be a racist, but Racism is the water.

And I think that might be where communication is partially breaking down. It someone points out racism, people think of burning crosses and white hoods, and that defensiveness rears its head, and they are like, “Not me–I love black people!” But behind that, they are unconsciously thinking things like, “If black people would just play the rules (our rules), they wouldn’t be getting into trouble.” But those rules might just be designed to keep people in a permanent second-class status. But if I’m being honest, I’m not in a place right now where I can deal with people who just don’t get it. A familiar sarcasm is coming back to me, and I’ve got this horrible hybrid of anger/sadness/cynicism that I can’t sleep off.

Consider this: At today’s bond hearing for Dylann Roof, the judge decided it was important to some time to make a personal statement. Here is the video of his remarks:

Just in case you you can’t (or won’t) watch the video, here is what he said:

“Charleston is a very strong community. We have big hearts. We are a very loving community. And we are going to reach out to everyone–all victims–and we will touch them. We have victims…. Nine of them. But we also have victims on the other side. There are victims on this young man’s side of the family. Nobody would have ever thrown them into the worldwind [sic] of events that they have been thrown into. We must find it in our heart, at some point in time, not only to help those that are victims, but to also help his family as well…. When it’s all done and said, Scarlet Wilson as Solicitor, and Ashley Pennington will have done the best job that they can do. They are some of the finest. Our law enforcement are the finest in this state, and they will do their job honorably. I trust they will.”

Seriously, South Carolina--Take down that damn flag! What the hell is your problem?!?

Seriously, South Carolina–Take down that damn flag! What the hell is your problem?!?

So let’s recap…. The judge presiding over this case thought it was important to remind everyone of the unseen victims in all this: Dylann Roof’s family. He took roughly 5 seconds commenting on how there were 9 victims…. and then he spent about 30 seconds calling for caring and empathy for the family of Dylann Roof. The same family who bought a young man (who dropped out of high school in 10th grade and had trouble with the law and trouble with substance abuse) a .45 caliber handgun for his 21st birthday. And–I don’t know this for sure, but I’d be willing to bet any and all of you $100 that it’s true–probably the same family who bought young Dylann Roof some really cool Rated-M first-person shooter video games where he had fun practicing his kill shots. There was no mention of the families of the nine black folks who just lost their mothers/fathers/brothers/sisters/sons/daughters/grandparents by Judge James Gosnell. But then, these comments were made by a man who once used the word N-word in his courtroom. He is quoted as saying, “There are four kinds of people in this world—black people, white people, red necks, and niggers” as he advised a black defendant during a bond reduction hearing. That’s right…. This judge said that. From the bench.

Yes, THAT Walter Scott.

Yes, THAT Walter Scott.

There WAS, however, mention of the prosecuting attorney and the public defender assigned to Dylann’s defense. Solicitor Scarlet Wilson and Public Defender Ashley Pennington received high praise and a vote of confidence from Judge Gosnell…. Possibly because of allegations of misconduct between those same two attorneys on another murder case. Scarlet Wilson happens to be the same prosecutor who brought murder charges against officer Michael Slager after video evidence came forward showing officer Slager firing eight times at Walter Scott, the unarmed black man who was shot in the back and killed. Officer Slager claimed that Scott had taken his taser, and he was afraid for his life. Luckily, someone happened to be filming the incident, and video evidence showed his claims to be false. So yeah, same town, same attorney…. Small world, right? 

And then, the cherry on the poop sundae that was today turned out to be reading about how a man named Charles Cotton (perfect) who is a board member of the NRA, posted in a pro-gun forum and said that Senator Pinckney’s death (and the death’s of those eight other men and women) were his own fault. His comment has since been taken down, but he wrote that Pinckney “voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.” You can see a screen capture of his comment below….
Cotton-630As predictable as this sort of stuff is, it still kills something inside of me to hear people say it. Just like it kills something inside of me when normally rational people call for “More Guns” (or “More Tigers”) and “Guns In Church” as a remedy for gun violence. Just like it kills something inside of me when a white judge praises his white attorneys and reminds us that there are some white people hurting too. Just like it kills something inside of me when people go on the attack when you mention Racism. A part of me has died today. Maybe I can find something to be hopeful about tomorrow…. Maybe not. It might be a while.

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11 Responses to Judge Reveals Real Victims In Charleston: Dylann Roof’s Family

  1. kuu11 says:

    Just wanted to tell you thank you for continuing to be a voice of reason in all this tragedy. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
    You sir are a good man speaking up for whats right. I applaud and support you!

  2. mihipte says:

    In case this matters, you have *my* vote of confidence. Recent events have worn down a lot folks, as I know from Twitter. Much of the US (such as me) has been dealing with too much water, and more water, and still more water, and the barrage of bad news feels kind of similar.

    Thank you for having your own opinion, and for caring enough to tell us. In this post, thank you for describing how the conservative approach to race looks from your end. My perspective is incomplete, so I value yours.

    But seriously, take a break from blogging. Don’t destroy yourself for the sake of the slow crawl of public opinion. And “take a break” even sounds too much like a job or obligation, which this is not. You’re more important in the physical world than you could ever expect to be online, so save the best of yourself for your family.

    Finally, I think my opinions have moved somewhat toward yours, particularly about race. My social media presence is about giving myself an opportunity to re-examine and revise my opinions. You’ve helped in that, which is perhaps the best thing to be said for a political blogger. Through Twitter, I learned of http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/ and, if I can eventually find a local gathering on there, I hope to attend, even though I’ll probably be the most conservative person present. You should count that as partly your doing.

  3. gregfra says:

    We cannot a.lowsomething in us to die. We must be the voices that say in unison, “enough!” And regardless of the pain we feel, the people who need to be in the middle of the co passion circle are those with the greatest hurt, the death inside that is as personal as being a spouse or sibling or a parent of one of the deceased. We cannot afford to try to move them aside for our hurt. Our hurt andI. Need to be pushed outward to motivate is to keep up this all I porta t work of changing the world,one life at a time. So get up. Get clean. Get dressed. Eat your breakfast. Take a walk, and then get back in the fray.

  4. gregfraz says:

    We cannot allow something in us to die. We must be the voices that say in unison, “enough!” And regardless of the pain we feel, the people who need to be in the middle of the compassion circle are those with the greatest hurt, the death inside that is as personal, as being a spouse or sibling or a parent of one of the deceased. We cannot afford to try to move them aside for our hurt. Our hurt needs to be pushed outward to motivate us to keep up this all important work of changing the world,one life at a time. So get up. Get clean. Get dressed. Eat your breakfast. Take a walk, and then get back in the fray. And damn the auto correct

  5. Susan says:

    I commend you for speaking up about this issue in the face of opposition and feeling so low. Keep fighting the good fight. You are a bright, shining light that there are still many of us who see what you see. If we continue to speak up, we will overcome. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  6. Shelly says:

    Get out of bed. Take a shower. Look at your children. See God, love and the good (most of the time) in all three of them. Happy Father’s Day, Mr. Boeskool, and keep on blogging!

  7. Chris, like you I am grieving for the families of the victims, the state of South Carolina, and our nation. I am not of the type that responds to tragedy and grief with “There, there, it will all get better. Let’s join hands and skip around.” But I am clinging to this bit of hope (and I share it with you): Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. See you in the a.m., my friend.

  8. Trish-da-dish says:

    And lets not forget there are prejudices in all of us from experience and how we have been raised. You can be prejudiced against black people and not necessarily racist. Having fear of walking down a street and a black man on the same street is rooted in our prejudice. George Zimmerman may not have been racist, but he was prejudiced(and very stupid, but that’s for another day).

    (White) People love to claim they are not racist but very few people will own their prejudices. If you are white, there’s a good chance that somewhere inside, you are, at some point, prejudiced to African Americans.

    Working with the poor and in the projects helped me overcome mine. The only way you can is through being with those who have fear of. When you start to see they are just like you, just trying to get by, just trying to raise their families, and doing the best they can, the walls of prejudicial thinking start to erode.

  9. Pingback: Ripples Of Hope, and Bending The Moral Arc | The Boeskool

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