The senseless and unspeakable massacre of nine Black people, ranging in ages from 26 to 87, in an historic church in Charleston, S.C., on June 17 is yet another grim reminder that racism, rooted in white supremacist ideology, is alive and well in the United States. This massacre should put to rest once and for all the false notion that the 2008 election of the first African-American president, Barack Obama, ushered in a post-racial society.
The unprecedented epidemic of police killings of Black and Brown people, especially youth, is the most glaring refutation of this illusion.
Dylann Roof, the fascistic 21-year-old terrorist who worships the colonial regimes of apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia — now Zimbabwe — was never a “lone wolf,” despite the corporate media’s portrayal. Racists like him are not born; they are socialized by their environment.
Like some other unemployed white workers, he caved in to white supremacist ideas that people of color, especially Black people, are to blame for whites not having a job or an education, and for other social ills suffered under capitalism.
While this racist propaganda emanates directly from terror groups like the Ku Klux Klan, League of the South, American Freedom Party, Council of Conservative Citizens and others, it mainly serves the interests of the majority white bosses and bankers. The capitalist class fears that anti-racist solidarity will strengthen all working-class nationalities to smash capitalism. It consciously seeks to divide and conquer by promoting racism, sexism, anti-lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer bigotry and the criminalization of working-class immigrants.
Similar white supremacist groups based in Europe, like the Jobbik Party and Golden Dawn, are spewing extreme racist and anti-Semitic views to blame immigrants from Africa and the Middle East as well as Jewish people for the austerity crisis.
As the eight-year-long capitalist economic crisis of no jobs and austerity continues to deepen its tentacles across the globe, building anti-racist solidarity becomes more and more decisive.
A hopeful sign is that white youth, many of whom were politicized during the Occupy movement beginning in 2011, have now joined ranks with the Black Lives Matter, anti-police upsurge, led by Black women and Black transwomen.
The massacre of the Charleston 9 — Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Depayne Middleton-Doctor and Myra Thompson — has revitalized the struggle against the Confederate flag, which still flies on the grounds of the state Capitol in Columbia. Just 15 years ago, 50,000 mostly Black people demonstrated in Columbia against this symbol of slavery and bigotry.
Workers World applauds the 2,000-person “Take Down the Flag” protest that took place in Columbia three days after the massacre. The majority of those attending were white. And in other cities, Confederate flags were burned in solidarity protests to demand justice for the martyred Charleston 9. “Black Lives Matter” has been spray painted on Confederate statues.
These massive protests are what has forced right-wing politicians, including South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, to publicly come out against the flag. For the same reason, Walmart, one of the largest low-wage conglomerates worldwide, announced it was removing merchandise with Confederate symbols from its stores. Amazon, Sears, eBay and other corporations were forced to remove these offensive symbols.
However, from the police killings of Michael Brown, Shantel Davis, Tamir Rice and Walter Scott to the racist vigilante murders of Trayvon Martin and the Charleston 9, it cannot be left to the Black community to fight racist violence in isolation. It will take more than just sympathy with the victims and survivors of racist violence to counter political reaction. All progressive formations — from the unions to organizations of women, LGBTQ activists, students, environmentalists, social justice, faith-based and anti-war advocates and others — must develop concrete anti-racist solidarity with the Black community and other people of color. This will signal a giant step forward in bringing down capitalism, which thrives on racism, poverty and war. No more Dylann Roofs!