By Melanie Morrison, Executive Director, Allies for Change
DEAR WHITE PEOPLE: Difficult as it may be, you and I MUST listen to and grapple with the words that Dylann Roof spoke as he began shooting the people who warmly, graciously welcomed him into that Bible study circle at Emmanuel AME Church: “You are raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go.” Those words are a mirror for us as a people – as white people. Those words are not only the isolated rantings of a tormented soul. We can’t simply scratch our heads and wonder how someone could be so hate-filled. We can’t only conclude that we need stricter gun control. We don’t need to interview his family and friends to understand where those words came from. The words Dylann Roof spoke are quite literally the white narrative that has undergirded and sustained systemic racism for centuries. That narrative continues unabated. Those words represent the fears and stereotypes that undergird present day racial profiling, state sanctioned violence, and mass incarceration. Those words feed anti-immigrant hysteria. Those words ring out in the chant, “Give us our country back.” Dylann Roof’s words are a mirror we must face as a people — as white people — if we are going to do the deep work required of us. None of us is exempt from this work. You and I and all of us must do this.