The War Against Racism And Prejudice Must Be Multifaceted

Published 1:29 pm Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dylan Roof’s conduct at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., exhibited the same hatred that confronted the Buckingham County Knights football team when it traveled to Scott County last fall to play the predominantly white Gate City High School in a Virginia High School League playoff football game.

While there, the white parents from Buckingham were called “(African-American slur) lovers,” “monkey lovers” and all kinds of racial epithets. The players on the sidelines and on the field were heckled with similar racial epithets. It is reported that the Buckingham quarterback complained to a game official about a call and he was told to “get back in the huddle, (African-American slur)!” A black game official is said to have walked out of the game!

A Buckingham County School Board member and the superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead wrote two letters to the VHSL and made one or two telephone calls to the Scott County Schools superintendent.  I submit that this response was not enough to condemn this evil.

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The idea that some of the Scott County residents hurled at the Knight fans and players was that “you all are not legitimate citizens of the United States!” Is this not the same idea that prompted the American patriots to fight the British for independence in the American Revolutionary War? Is this not the same ideology that Dylan Roof demonstrated at Emmanuel A.M.E.: You people do not belong in America.

Here is the connection between the Emmanuel A.M.E. shooting and the racial epithet calling at the Buckingham football game: Both are a continuum of the other, and both are examples of the same white-supremacy policy that is alive and well in this country. Hate speech can easily lead to hate conduct — mass bombings, shootings, rioting and mayhem.

If this society does not collectively condemn such behavior and seek not to identify and extricate its roots in American society, then it will always exist bountifully among us. The reason that racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim and other isms still exist in America is because of the following: Racism is principally combatted by African-Americans. Sexism is principally combatted by white females. Homophobia is principally combatted by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Anti-Semitism is principally combatted by the Jewish community. Anti-Muslimism is combatted principally by the Islamic community.

There has never been a collective, national and unified movement by the entire melting pot of the American society to condemn and eradicate the evils of prejudice from this society.  White churches and Christians are still scared to “lock arms” with their black brothers and sisters in Christ to wage a national campaign against racism because they are scared of being called (African-American slur) sympathizers and lovers. White Christians still do not believe, by and large, that racism is a national plague because not many in white America are affected by it!  The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s letter to the white clergy titled The Courage to Love is still sitting in their mailboxes, awaiting delivery, a thorough reading and an activist response.

The monster called prejudice, says the eminent historian, Professor John Hope Franklin, “shall not leave us until we drive it into the abyss with Satan!” If white America does not have empathy for black America and the people of color do not care about the fate of Latino immigrants and Native Americans and white females do not support their black sisters in their campaign against racism and sexism and if all of America does not defend the followers of Islam in America, then the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution does not apply to any of us.

If any group does not have the protections of the Bill of Rights, then it does not exist for any of us. That sign that I pass going to Appomattox that says “Where our nation reunited” is still a hope on the horizon.

This is why the Emmanuel A.M.E. shooting should resonate all across America and in Buckingham, Appomattox and Prince Edward counties, because if the war against racism and prejudice is not being waged multiracially, multisexually, multireligiously and by all people collectively in your community, then American patriotism is just an isolated occurrence in these un-United States.

Dr. George Bates is a native of Albemarle County and is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Virginia’s School of Law.  He is a retired attorney, a business consultant and a freelance writer. He resides in Dillwyn. His email address is