Dear Dylann Roof
Dear Dylann Roof: When you gunned down 9 people in a Charleston church who were sharing Bible study with you, you said, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” Author Lisa Wade described this as “benevolent” sexism. I find this an overly generous label.
Dear Dylann Roof:
When you gunned down 9 people in a Charleston church who were sharing Bible study with you, you said, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” described this as “benevolent” sexism.
I assume in your comments you mean “you”: African American men; “our women”: white women who somehow you think “belong” to white men. You are concerned that “they” are raping “us” and you are going to save “us” by assassinating African American people in our community.
Sadly you have been misinformed about this “problem”. In fact, it is African American women and other women of color who have been victimized by white men from the days of enslavement until today. Whether domestic workers in homes of white families or employees of businesses, women of color remain particularly vulnerable to white male employers.
This false narrative is as old as the hills of the Southern Appalachians where I was born and raised. The history of lynching in the South is a tragic part of the campaign of terrorism visited on the African American community to enforce segregation and Jim Crow and justified by the manufactured fear of the rape of white women. The Equal Justice Initiative reported in 2015 that nearly 4,000 black men, women and children were lynched between 1877 and 1950 in the South.
You stand in a long line of bigoted men who have taken it on themselves to “protect” white women from an illusory threat. As a white woman raised in the South in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, let me be clear: we do not need your protection from black men. We do not “belong” to you. We are free agents more than capable of taking care of ourselves.
Your “excuse” for your white supremacy is pathetic and dated. To say that you are on the wrong side of history is to understate the obvious.
Let me assure you that your terrorist strategy of murdering African Americans in your community, to intimidate people of color and reinforce white supremacy, is also ineffective. You have martyred these community members and unified the vast majority of citizens of every racial group to stand in solidarity.
We will not be intimidated. Even as we pray and care for the families of the people you murdered, we organize and respond. Contrary to your intention, you have brought us together—in mourning, and with purpose. We will redouble our efforts to confront racism, to move us forward to the day when all community members will be safe in their homes, places of worship, workplaces, and streets.
As a Christian, I pray for your repentance. The families and church that you victimized have responded to you with love and grace that are beyond my capacity. But I continue to live in hope that you, and others who share your views, come to realize the futility of your efforts and even perhaps catch a glimpse of the beloved community that will serve us all as we find ways to live together in peace and harmony.