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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Racial Innocence Suffuses a White Confessed Killer

The New York Times has published Brit Bennett's important commentary on the #CharlestonShooting in the context of the history of white terrorists in the United States. The Times appends to Bennett's essay this photograph of the accused killer in a bullet-proof vest.

Photo credit: Chuck Burton/Associated Press

This photograph tells a story: that the white confessed killer is in danger of being shot... by whom? Who is the implied threat in this image? Dylann Storm Roof claimed that he murdered nine worshippers in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church because black people threaten whites: "You are raping our women and taking over the country." This image in the NYTimes reinforces that perspective. This is what happens when white supremacism saturates a culture: even when a white person massacres black church-goers, the story is visually re-told as one in which black people threaten whites--who need and deserve protection.

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