#CharlestonShooting: Race, Religion, and Guns

The shooting at Emanuel AME Church was a hate crime—and we need to talk about race.



Yesterday was a terrible day in Charleston. Nine people were killed while at church. The church was Emanuel AME Church. This is the oldest AME church in the United States.


Denmark Vesey, leader of a slave uprising, was a founding member. It was burned to the ground by white supremacists shortly after word of the slave rebellion was leaked. The congregation had to meet in secret as black churches were banned until after the Civil War. The church has a long history of influential politicians who have been active in the congregation. Many black leaders have spoken at the church, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The church supported the hospital workers' right to unionize, even during threats of violence.


It is against this historical, social, and political background that an armed young white man came into the church and murdered nine people. This was a hate crime, less than three months after another hate crime (the murder of Walter Scott) was committed in North Charleston. I don't understand why a man would want to shoot another person or people, but can we, as a collective group, stop doing it. Whatever your problem with someone else is, it's not worth you or them being killed over. And to kill in order to make a whole community fear for themselves is the most cowardly act a man can commit. Black Lives Matter is not just a hashtag to be taken lightly, but something we all need to wake up and listen to, something we need to take in our hearts, and love our fellow people. White people, like myself, need to realize that we do have privilege through no merit of our own, but through the color of our skin—and that is wrong.