#CharlestonShooting: Immediate Reactions and How to Help

Hi, everyone. Look, today is obviously a sad day; Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year-old man, shot and killed nine churchgoers in Charelston, South Carolina’s historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church, including several reverends and pastor and S.C. congressman Clementa Pinckney. You can learn more about the victims here.

There’s tons of reaction, most of which stems from the heartbreak and confusion surrounding this senseless tragedy. There’s also talk about the responsibility white America must come to terms with when it comes to members of white America who uphold white supremacy by not acting in defense of others or speaking up against racism. Also part of the reaction: a call to take the Confederate flag out of the south, since the flag only serves as a romantic reminder to the slavery-and-racism infused past.

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There was also heartfelt reaction from the mayor of Charleston, Joseph P. Riley, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, and the Charleston chief of police, Gregory Mullen, as well as President Obama.

If you feel compelled, you can donate to the Emanuel A.M.E. Church at their website. You can also donate to the victims’ families through the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, which will have a website up and functioning by Friday (also by Friday, you’ll be able to donate to the fund through any Wells Fargo). Until then, you can give to the fund through this address:

Mother Emanuel Hope Fund

C/O City of Charleston

P.O. Box 304

Charleston, SC 29402

The Huffington Post has also listed many other ways you can help alleviate the suffering.

I’ll end this with my quick, immediate opinions (which might be more scattered than I’d like). Even though the Attorney General is investigating the tragedy to see if it qualifies as a hate crime, I think it’s clear that it more than qualifies for hate crime status. In fact, it’s downright terrorism. Homegrown terrorism, if you will. The fact that this kind of event can occur at all is terrifying, but that it’s still happening in 2015, a time that was supposed to be “the future,” reflects bad on society and its slow ability to learn from the mistakes and horrors of the past.

I think taking down the Confederate flag is a step in the right direction; all southern capitals should refrain from using the flag and any rhetoric related to it, since all it does is romanticize the past and keeps old wounds open. As a person who has grown up in the south (Birmingham, AL, the home of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church), I’ve seen my fair share of Confederate flags, and no matter how many white Southerners claim that modern usage of the flag isn’t racist, but is a memorial of southern heritage and history, that doesn’t erase the fact that the memorial of southern heritage and history involves slavery and sanctioned rape, murder, and physical and psychological torture.

But also important is recognizing this tragedy for what it is—terrorism. I am glad that many in the media are now calling this crime an act of terror and have refrained, for the most part, from rhetoric that would excuse Roof’s behavior and actions. I am also glad that talk about removing the Confederate flag as well as a renewed debate on gun control are now taking place. I’m happy that many media pundits are conveying a sense of urgency about discussions concerning race, guns, and basic human decency. To me, it feels like we’ve come to some kind of turning point. I’m just disappointed that it took human lives for us to get here.

For now, these are my thoughts. What do you think about this? Give your opinions in the comments section.

Still from CNN’s Erin Burnett: Outfront/Twitter