President Obama addressed the tragic Emanuel AME Church massacre in a speech today (June 18). This obviously isn’t the first time in President Obama‘s tenure that he’s had to deal with racist crimes, however this time around, we all wanted our president to fully address systematic racism in America, despite how much he’s danced around the topic in the past. And while he did mention race, his focus was on gun control.
“Now is the time for mourning and healing, but let’s be clear: At some point as a country, we have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,” the president said. This “type” of mass violence is an act of hate and terrorism. It’s a calculated move to attempt to eradicate Black people.
It’s been reported that the killer, Dylann Roof, told a victim that he allowed to live that he “had” to kill them because Black men rape White women. That’s a level of hate that’s been bubbled up in this 21-year-old man that couldn’t be quenched without taking lives. Our lives.
President Obama let it be known that he’s also frustrated by the amount of mass shootings that happen in our homeland. “I don’t need to be constrained about the emotions tragedies like this raise,” the president said. “I’ve had to make comments like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times.”
Yes, far too many times racism has reared its ugly head in violence. Whether it be a gun, knife, bomb or some other weapon, that doesn’t matter. Roof would have found a way to carry out his plan even if no one ever gifted him a gun in April. This isn’t about gun control. It’s about hatred.
President Obama did however bring it back around to the obvious–Emanual AME Church has been a site for hatred since its inception. “Mother Emanuel is, in fact, more than a church. This is a place of worship that was founded by African-Americans seeking liberty. This is a church that was burned to the ground, because its worshippers worked to end slavery…this is a sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America.” And yet in still, this is a place where someone can come into and decide to end people’s lives. It’s devastating and horrifying!
President Obama said, “There is something particularly heartbreaking about a death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace in a place of worship.”
So now where do we go to seek solace?
Watch his speech below: