The Color of Violence and Fifteen Minutes of Infamy
“Nine people shot in a church.” That’s what came across the airwaves when I turned my car radio on. My heart sank thinking about the victims. They weren’t robbing a bank or attacking anyone. They weren’t resisting arrest. They were in church. Not just in church, but praying in church. Who guns down parishioners in a church? I couldn’t help but think about the times I had attended Bible Study and Prayer Meeting, never once imagining that I would be sprayed with bullets.
While listening to the report unfold, I never thought about the race of the killer or the victims. I didn’t see white or black, but only red—blood on the floor, on the pews, on the Bibles. It was only when I saw the story on the Internet that I learned the gunman was a young white man and that the people he savagely slaughtered were black. Was this new knowledge a game changer? Did it make me angrier? Did it make me want to strike out against the white perpetrator? Did it make me hate all white people? The answer to all the aforementioned questions is, “No.” It’s violence no matter what color or shape. People are dead no matter what color or shape.
We are killing each other every day around the world. Nations are at war. Neighborhoods are at war. In the United States, more than 30,000 people die from gun violence annually according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The problem is not black or white. The problem is deeper than our skin. We are living in a time where all lives seem to not matter. We have become inured to violence. Perhaps because it’s so pervasive.
I remember when Al Qaeda was videotaping beheadings and showing them to the world. Then ISIS began beheading people. It all was horrific and ghastly. But eventually, after so many, the shock value was diminished. Our video games are flooded with violence. Movies are violent. Go to Youtube and there are countless videos showcasing women fighting each other in stores, youth battling out on the playground, in the parking lot. It’s everywhere. Nothing is shocking anymore.
So how do you get the attention of the world? How do you upstage James Eagan Holmes, the crazed man that shot twelve people and injured 70 others at a movie theater in Colorado three years ago? I got it. Go into a church. Not just any church. Go to a black church, especially with all the racial tension going on. Yeah, go in there and kill some people. That will get the world’s attention. No I’m not a mind reader and I don’t purport to know what was in Dylan Roof’s mind when he set out to take the lives of those nine members of Emanuel AME Church, but it wouldn’t surprise me if his actions were somewhat fueled by wanting fifteen minutes of fame. After all, look at all the attention Rachel Dolezal received for her race-related situation. Rachel who? It’s all about Dylan Roof now.
I’m just saying.