Charleston, Dylann Roof and the Racism of Millennials

terrorsit 23

By Karen Attiah

“They may be Okay with Homosexuality but They Still Hate Black People” Bhekizitha

America should be shaken to its very core by what happened in Charleston.The gruesome massacre of nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., may amount to the worst racially motivated terror attack of our generation and a deeply violent reminder that racism and white supremacy continue to course through America’s veins. One cannot help but draw comparisons to the firebombing of a black church in Birmingham, Ala., almost 52 years ago.The shooting suspect in Charleston has been identified as Dylann Roof, a white 21-year-old. He was arrested (peacefully, one should add) at a traffic stop. Many will argue about what words we will use to describe Roof, whether he should be described as a mentally disturbed kid (a description rarely applied when the alleged perpetrator isn’t a white male) or a rational adult responsible for his alleged actions. His age matters, but not for the reasons you may think.

Roof, who was born in 1994, violently shatters one particularly entrenched myth that society holds about racism — that today’s millennials are more tolerant than their parents, and that racism will magically die out as previous generations pass on. We think that millennials should be lauded for aspiring to be “colorblind.”  There is the belief that tolerant young people will intermarry and create a post-racial, brown society and that it will be “beautiful.”

But the truth is that the kids are not all right when it comes to racial equality. Studies have shown that millennials are just about as racist as previous generations:

When it comes to explicit prejudice against blacks, non-Hispanic white millennials are not much different than whites belonging to Generation X (born 1965-1980) or Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964). White millennials (using a definition of being born after 1980) express the least prejudice on 4 out of 5 measures in the survey, but only by a matter of 1 to 3 percentage points, not a meaningful difference. On work ethic, 31 percent of millennials rate blacks as lazier than whites, compared to 32 percent of Generation X whites and 35 percent of Baby Boomers.

As Jamelle Bouie at Slate noted:

Millennials have grown up in a world where we talk about race without racism — or don’t talk about it at all — and where “skin color” is the explanation for racial inequality, as if ghettos are ghettos because they are black, and not because they were created. As such, their views on racism — where you fight bias by denying it matters to outcomes — are muddled and confused.

Which gets to the irony of this survey: A generation that hates racism but chooses colorblindness is a generation that, through its neglect, comes to perpetuate it.

The danger in invoking the myth of the presupposed racial tolerance of millennials (and subsequent generations) is that it works to absolve today’s society of actively confronting and undoing the damage of the legacy of slavery, segregation and institutionalized racism. We think racism will just die out with older generations. Why confront America’s racial legacy as long as you believe that the younger generation will do it for you? To put it bluntly, it ignores how the cold logic of racism, white supremacy and anti-blackness has worked for generations and how it continues to work.

A 21-year-old millennial, in 2015, is alleged to have taken a page from the 1960s and assassinated a black political leader: South Carolina State Senator and pastor Clementa Pinckney was among the dead.

A 21-year-old millennial, by allegedly saying “You rape our women,” invoked the centuries-old defense of protecting white women as a justification for the slaughter of black people.

A 21-year-old donned early-20th-century symbols of apartheid and racist colonial regimes in Africa on his Facebook page.

A 21-year-old allegedly copied from the age-old playbook of racial terror, adding another bloody chapter to the long history of assaults on black people at churches in America.

All of these examples are not signs of individual mental illness. From South Africa to the United States, symbols celebrating segregation, assassinations of black community leaders, mass violence and the desecration of sacred spaces for black people are the historical tools of black suppression. It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that this massacre occurred in a state that flies the Confederate battle flag, a symbol of white supremacy, at its state house. These symbols and tactics remain in our national conscience, passing on from generation to generation, like a sinister genetic code in America’s DNA.

As long as society refuses to confront this legacy of the ugly sin of racism today, we cannot depend on tomorrow’s generations to come to our rescue.

Karen Attiah is the Washington Post’s Opinions Deputy Digital Editor. She previously reported for Associated Press while based in Curaçao.

7 thoughts on “Charleston, Dylann Roof and the Racism of Millennials

  1. She is a negro. Blacks kill me with that European vocabulary expression. “America should be shaken to its core” non sense. America doesn’t give a fuck. Millennials simply have learned from previous generations how to better rule and control Blacks. Western Europeans learn from mistakes. Its their culture. The White myth racism will die is a fallacy considering Whites have never been brought to justice nor do show any remorse. It amazes me how Black’s glorify neo liberal racist like Jon Stewart and Bill Maher who are obsessed with maintaining White hegemony under the guise of being enlightened and willing to call out othert Whites. When their true object is to legitimize White power on the basis its some good White people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought the article expressed her feelings and outlook of the world. It was a combination of a half ass acknowledgement of error in her thinking and her IMA editor approved outrage . Many Africans in America are caught between two poles: Servility or freedom, being free or being enslaved. African pride or just getting by.

      They just don’t believe in themselves (as much as they let on) or the group to separate from IMAs.

      I would be a billionaire if I got a dollar for every time I was told by an African American “people are people”. I always retort, “that is not the point”.

      Excusing your apathy is just that making an excuse.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. People are people??? Yes I hear this a lot too. They don’t know how silly they sound. I believe humans are people. You must have hue to be HUE-man. These creatures we are dealing with seem less than human. They are not communal like us. They want to rule over everyone,rape,murder and colonize everywhere they go. And they are polluting the planet as well. Destroying the air,water and all they come in contact with. They have proven they don’t belong in the human family. Some may disagree but I don’t consider Neanderthals as people.


    2. Stewart is a racist liberal. He can’t stand black people. And Bill Maher is a Jewish sleaze bucket. He likes to go around sexually sewering black women. I can’t believe these black women actually sleep with this man. They must have serious mental issues. I don’t trust any of these slick white liberals. They are all enemies. I can see past their phony smiles.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There is no confidence. The IMA people have masterfully implanted in the minds of African people that they can’t manage themselves and also that Christian fantasy of “Heaven is not racially seperated, so no matter our condition or position let the lord handle it”. It just makes me sick, White aggressively force their will from Beck, Hannity, to Gulianani. Yet its always these White approved or White propaganda controlled arguments. If Whites were Blacks, we would resist them for the hell of it. Even in South Africa, if the Whites were Blacks they would make Rwanda look like a picnic. Africans are as a group our out of our !minds and playing with our existence.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I watched some of the courtroom drama yesterday. I couldn’t believe my damn ears! These black family members were forgiving this ugly bastard! This is crazy! How can you forgive a murderer when there hasn’t even been a trial yet? This is a lot of that Christian mentality. To always forgive and be the bigger person. That is utter nonsense! That’s the problem with black folks. We forgive too quick. This albino faggot deserves either the electric chair or firing squad. Anything less would be an injustice.


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