To: Members of the Media
Call the Charleston shooting what it is: Terrorism
The horrific slaying of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston has already been called a hate crime by the local chief of police and local media. But that's insufficient. This act is part of a long history of individual and, yes, state violence against African Americans. You can give this tragedy the focus and meaning it deserves by calling it what it is: terrorism.
Why is this important?
On Wednesday, June 17, a gunman opened fire at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is one of the nation's oldest black churches, and all the victims were black.
African Americans have been a target of hate crimes throughout American history, which is why our nation has legislation that carries additional punishments for such crimes.
But if we are ever to transform the brutal legacy of racism, it's equally important that heinous acts like the Charleston shooting are given clear and honest attention by the court of public opinion as well as the justice system. The media must use language that such an act deserves. Call this "a lone gunman" and the world tunes out. Call this what it is--a terrorist act--and ensure a real conversation about violence, oppression, and power in our society.