Andrew Dys

Killing of nine blacks by white gunman: South Carolina’s racial hate and guns collide in mass murder

David Williamson Jr.
David Williamson Jr. Herald file

Hate killed nine black people in Charleston. Hatred of blacks.

A person who hates blacks – armed with a gun because anybody who hates can gets one – shot them all. He reloaded, looked in their faces as some pleaded for their lives, and shot some more.

The killing of nine black people at a Charleston church by a white man who hated black people so much that he would open fire in a church, reload and kill more, is not a tragedy.

It is mass murder.

It is terrorism.

I have taught my own three children, black and so smart and tough like their mother, that hate would not conquer them. Today, I waver, and do not know that to be true.

My middle daughter walked by that church every day while at college. Black students at the College of Charleston sought God and hope and a rest from hate in that church that forever now will be known as a killing field.

My knees buckled from hate.

Hatred killed, and it used a gun.

“Someone, somewhere, taught this young man to hate,” said David Williamson Jr., a member of Rock Hill’s Friendship Nine civil rights group, who marched through hate in 1961 and was jailed for it. “He was told that it is all right to hate.”

This terrorism that targets people because of their skin color comes in a state that sanctions racial animosity, racial hostility, by flying the Confederate flag in front of its Statehouse.

That flag was a symbol of the enslavement of blacks, and it continues to this day to be a symbol used by hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and others to claim that blacks are not human beings equal to all other men.

Every person who has called a black person that N-word, or called a homosexual a “queer” or “faggot,” or called our Indian-heritage governor a “raghead,” helped pull that trigger in Charleston.

And it was hate enacted during a church Bible study. Churches, for as long as black people risked lynching to gather, have been a refuge against racism and hate.

Until now, in South Carolina.

“Racism is an enemy of America, hate is an enemy of America, and this crime of killing black people in a church that is so sickening shows, right in our faces, that racism and hatred toward blacks is alive and taking our lives,” said Willie McCleod, another of the Friendship Nine. “I was in Bible study at my church last night. That could have been any of us in black churches, dead from bullets from somebody who hated us. Us. Meaning blacks.”

South Carolina, with its Confederate flag, is not closer to racial equality and the end of racial hatred, McCleod said, because people are still teaching that the enemy of whites are blacks. That blacks cause the problems. That the only solution is to hate – and in this case, kill – blacks.

“This hatred was nurtured, taught, sold, to this young man,” McCleod said. “He bought it, and he used a gun to kill nine people with his hatred.”

McCleod is right that anywhere in South Carolina, where four of every 10 people are black, four of every 10 people are targeted by hate because they are black.

And those who hate blacks now get guns and use blacks as targets.

It is now not just slogans and hate speech and symbols like the Confederate flag from those who hate.

South Carolina has racial cancer. It has metastasized. It fills the body with its death.

It remains to be seen if there is a cure.

Andrew Dys •  803-329-4065 •  adys@heraldonline.com

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