Anthony B. Bradley — Dylann Roof’s struggle for true whiteness
The black conservative writer offers his view on Dylann Roof’s struggle for true whitness by murdering blacks.
(Al Jazeera America)
"The black church in America remains one of the greatest catalysts of African-American well-being in our nation’s history. Since the formation of black Christian congregations on slave plantations, it has served as a place for spiritual formation, black dignity, training and education, organizing for social justice, sustaining marriage and family, caring for the poor and so much more.
Sadly, African-American flourishing, enabled in part by the black church, was reinterpreted as a threat to the achievement of true whiteness by working-class and lower-class white people. This narrative of race and class may explain why Dylan Roof chose a black church, as opposed to anywhere else, to express his racial animus.
In “Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness,” sociologist Matt Wray argues that, historically speaking, being a white person in America is a class status that someone had to earn, even for lower-class white people. Before the Jim Crow era, as South Carolina Anglican minster the Rev. Charles Woodsman expressed in 1766, people such as Dylann Roof were viewed with disdain by white elites as people who “delight in their present low, lazy, sluttish, heathenish, hellish life, and seem not desirous of changing it.” The so-called white trash, Wray writes, “reveals itself as an expression of fundamental tensions and deep structural antimonies: between the sacred and the profane, purity and impurity, morality and immorality, cleanliness and dirt."