The punk in Charleston – his sweatshirt covered with white power patches from countries that no longer exist because the weight of hatred of blacks killed them – got out of his car with the Confederate flag license plate and walked into the church that has given black people refuge for so long.
A gun was hidden by his veiled hate.
He listened to these black people – men and women, young and old, people who have been boot-heeled by South Carolina and America all their lives because they were born black – tell how they loved him and how God loved him.
His response was to kill nine of those people, letting one live to tell his sordid tale of hoping to start a race war in the America, which, for guys like him, is run by and ruled by whites.
One reason to kill blacks, this killer said, is because they are taking over America.
“What America does this guy live in?” a black man in Rock Hill named McKinley Heath, 74, asked on Friday morning.
Heath lives in a rented house about the size of some people’s garages. He worked all his life after going to segregated schools and being told he should not have a chance to get a good education or a good job or good medical care.
At 74, Heath has taken over nothing but trying to survive.
Heath sat next to Bruce Armstrong, another black man.
“Take over? We haven’t even come close to catchin’ up,” Armstrong said.
Blacks in America are poorer than whites by any measure. Blacks are jailed far more often, blacks have not been afforded the same opportunities in education, medical care, employment, that the luck of being born with white skin has given the majority of people in South Carolina and America.
There is not a single black person elected to countywide office in York County. There are no black department heads of the huge government bureaucracy, either. The school districts are all run by whites. The city of Rock Hill has one black department head.
There are plenty of blacks, though, wearing York County and Rock Hill city employee shirts as they work on our streets, on our sewer pipes and to pick up our garbage.
When Alex Underwood was elected Chester County’s first black sheriff in 2012 – before he “took over” – somebody poisoned his dog. He got death threats.
The Rev. Paul Long is pastor at Antioch Baptist Church in Chester. In 2002, an arsonist burned down the historic black church. No one was killed, but no one was caught, despite an investigation that went all the way to the White House. The FBI came in, and more. All at Antioch knew in 2002, and know in 2015, that the church was burned down because someone hated the black people inside.
“But hating back is never the answer, and never has been,” said Long, 70.
Rev. Long has been the victim of racism countless times in his life, but he will not stop working for equality for all – in spite of hearing the ridiculous notion that blacks have “taken over.”
Long said that while watching TV as the family members of the victims tell a judge that they have forgiven Dylann Roof for his hate.
According to the Dylann Roofs of the world – those taught to hate blacks, who would pray with blacks and then kill them, claiming them to be rapists and thieves and takers of the white dream – an 8-year-old black kid named Xavier Curry is trying to take over.
Friday afternoon, Xavier rode his bicycle around Rock Hill’s Fountain Park. His grandmother, Jacqueline Stout, brought him. The carnage in Charleston “devastated” Stout, and hurt her heart with the hatred of blacks that she has seen so many times in her long life. She has had to explain this to her grandson, who gets straight A’s and has a smile that lights up a park.
“This violence has to stop,” she said. “The hatred of black people has to stop. Racism has to go.”
But it has not gone.
Her grandson rode his bicycle around the fountain, over and over. He smiled the whole time. There was no gunman in sight. He pedaled and pedaled that bike that means freedom for a kid. If he pedals long enough, he can go anywhere he wants.
He stopped long enough to be asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.
Xavier wants to be a policeman when he grows up. A cop gets to wear the cool uniform, he said, and a cop gets to make money.
And when somebody kills nine people, well, Xavier Curry said this of an officer’s duty in South Carolina:
“You get to put murderers in jail.”
Andrew Dys • 803-329-4065 • firstname.lastname@example.org