Charleston, Race, Violence and Whiteness


Podcast Nye:009


This podcast is a discussion about issues related to the deaths in the AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. In particular, the intersections between race, violence and whiteness.


On Wednesday 17 June 2015 a young white male went into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Calhoun Street, Charleston. Reports say that he sat in a Bible study meeting for a short while, and then took out a gun and shot nine people dead: six women and three men. He left a further person seriously injured.


The people who died were:


Cynthia Hurd, Clementa Pinckney, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Susie Jackson, and Daniel Simmons Sr


Neither the time or the place of this act of political violence were randomly chosen.


The AME Church is the oldest black, African American church in the US south of Baltimore. It dates back to 1816, and has been attacked (at times destroyed) by hostile white groups (including the local government) on several occasions. It was associated with the attempt by Denmark Vesey to organise a slave revolt and lead African American slaves in Charleston to freedom. The date of that planned revolt would have been the early morning of 17 June 1822.


It is probably correct to say, that America in the wake of these 2015 killings will not be the same.


Or at least, the hope is that the deaths will enable the USA to find a better way of living with its difficult past and its contemporary tensions.


Useful links from the discussion are:


A recent 2013 study of lynching in southern USA by the Equal Justice Initiative in Mongtomery, Alabama


Strange Fruits’, sung by Billie Holiday


Ta-Nehisi Coates on Freddie Gray and Baltimore


Youtube video of Rev Clementa Pinckney in 2013 talking about the AME church and Denmark Vesey


Black Eyed Peas, Where is the Love


Jon Stewart on the Charleston shootings


Ta-Nehisi Coates on elegant and oafish whiteness and racism


Ta-Nehisi Coates on the ‘The Case for Reparations’, and ‘The Case for Reparation: An Intellectual Autopsy’


Ta-Nehisi Coates’ new book, Between the World and Me, has recently (July 2015) been published. I strongly recommend it. It is well worth a read.





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Nye:009 Charleston, Race, Violence and Whiteness (podcast)

by Malory Nye time to read: 2 min