America’s Race Problem: The Case of Dylann Roof shot and killed Rachel Dolezal!

For more than two weeks the world media was agog on an insignificant almost accidental story of Rachel Dolezal. Rachel Dolezal’s story reminded us in glaring sense of the racial contradictions and misgivings in the land of the brave and the home of the free, the very USA that boasts a democracy for the last 240 years. Dolezal’s story for being parented by a Chech & Swedish marriage active in Christian Missionary work and her four younger siblings which share the black denotation for description of their human agency presented for many a severe challenge. In no time the accusations against her were levelled.

On the one hand those who uphold whiteness as a pristine distinctive superior notion castigated her for her betrayal of her ‘white’ identity for a subservient black identity. For it is an insult for any born ‘ white’ to ever reject the white identity in exchange for a far lesser ‘black’ identity.

On the other side of the fence those who believe in their pure black identity notion attacked her for having played the fool with their identity. These argued that she became black without accepting the scars of blackness thus cheapening the identity of black.

As if that was not enough a third group entered the fray of dissecting and accusing RD, these I will call whites who are equally experimenting on different levels at a theoretical and practical level on the idea of non-racial identity.

The latter group however argues Dolezal’s behaviour is an indictment to blacks and therefore not authentic for it makes small the true experience blacks were subjected to. I still do not know how they fully understand this to articulate it with such almost custodianship of certainty. Those who come at Dolezal from this group, claims she really made her white privilege count.

However, Dolezal in her own words as a conscious highly educated and very active person is on record for having stated categorically her heritage is black. It became painful to see how the fact that a combination of her being born of ‘white’ parents and her current strenuous relationship with her biological parents presented for some the fertile ground to assume she left relations because of her identity choices.


These are oblivious to how most families often are separated from each other and often it has nothing to do with identity. Hence, why this had to be strung together to give credence to her cheating only the clever ones know.

No one questions the natural assumption that RD’s biological parents known as from Chech and Swedish origin respectively is presenting already a challenge for this pure white notion, it merrily accepted with no resistance that there is no mixing that could alter identity from this pure naturally white acceptance. Those who opine do not see plausible mixing already here, but conveniently hold on to the idea of a solid ‘white’ identity. We must ask why and in whose interest ?

No soon has America been dealing with the Rachel Dolezal case and the evil of racial hate manifested again, this time a young man Dylann Roof hardly 22 years old who is arrested for having in cold blood murdered church goers in their weekly prayer gathering.

What makes this interesting and lends the twist to the tale is that it was a human with the denotation of white as his identity marker that pulled the trigger on those who gathered in the Emmanual AME church in Charleston South Carolina, the victims again identified as ‘black’.

It is then here that the stories of Rachel Dolezal and Dylann Roof collide with tragedy of eternal disastrous description. The difference is the celebration of a humanity expressed in what is a ‘whiteness’ and ‘blackness’ of being.

Both Rachel Dolezal and Dylann Roof are considered white if their birth certificates are the only yardstick for assessment. However, they both embolden the plight of the American race problem. For Rachel Dolezal she has made conscious choices informed by her socialisation in a family that perhaps long ago introduced her to people less in description of ‘white’ or ‘black’.

In the case of Dylan Roof, we are learning he too was exposed to both sides of the description of humanity in denotations of ‘black’ and ‘white’ for he had friends beyond his narrow meaning of a white humanity.

They both made conscious decisions, for Rachel Dolezal it is the case of her conscious rejection of ‘whiteness’ and evidenced in an equal celebration of ‘blackness’ as her studies at Howard (essentially an African American Tertiary Institution) and her work in the NAACP confirms.

Dylann Roof too made some conscious choices, his manifesto as later unravelled attests someone who consciously made a choice for ‘whiteness’ as an endangered identity in an emerging sea of ‘blackness’. Thus his choice is for ‘whiteness’ in supremacy, seeing blackness as a threat and not only a threat but a problem.

It can be argued that Dolezal’s choice for blackness is her seeing of ‘whiteness’ as the problem of America’s incessant racial diaphragm and thus she rejects this for for a black identity.

What is important here is that they both identified whiteness as the anchor tenant for their adopted divergent stances in their respective prisms of race definition. The only congruent aspect of both their distinct poles of  stances is a communality of white identity.

We therefore can assert when Dylann Roof shot the people  in the prayer meeting at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston South Carolina he really shot Rachel Dolezal. We can now categorically say yes a few days ago Dylann Roof shot and killed Rachel Dolezal; he consciously attempted destroying her and thus her heritage.

He took it upon himself to fix what he considers the problem of America if not the world. This problem for the white supremacists is necessarily draped in a dark skin, which bespeaks the fear of an onslaught the terror looming with explicit intend of unleashing the virus that would cause the extinction of an endangered “white” identity. That problem is exemplified in a black identity.

Dylan Roof thus rejects Rachel DOlezal’s identity and equally feels entitled to annihilate her being only because he can. He feels duty bound to be the saviour of ‘whiteness’, a ‘whiteness’ this young mind never had dissected, questioned or critically engaged yet appropriated as non-negotiable a cast in stone construct and out of such appropriation he earned a confirmed right to exact the maximum penalty of pain. However it can also be argued that Dylann Roof could so easily have been a Rachel Dolezal, for he too was confronted by the two conflicting worlds her travelled in and out. On the one hand a world which he recognises friends beyond the racial bar,  friends who equally recognise him yet his other world from where he pulled the trigger  he sees the very friends really as the enemies of his identity.

In the terrorist-racist Dylan Roof’s mind  who Rachel Dolezal is constitutes the problem for America. A ‘black’ identity thus for those who worship an identity of ‘white’ is the antithesis of a true humanity only valued in white identity. The challenge of this primordial dualism does not befall the young saviour of whiteness to comprehend neither to grasp. For he is a Spartan in his mind.

Roof’ has more than just a combination of Apartheid and Colonial controlled Rhodesian connection as his proudly displayed flags across his chests attested a desire for this blighted history of Apartheid South African rule and English Colonialism rule over Zimbabwe confirms. When he has these flags proudly displayed on his chest it is to say ‘whiteness’ has already suffered a blow and lost control as these nations now present, thus if left unattended the stars and stripes of the USA flag runs the risk to be made extinct by the same ‘black’ problem of America if it is not dealt with.

Yes, Dylann Roof shares more than just an old Apartheid flag with SA but his last name in Afrikaans (my mother tongue) “roof” means to “to steal”, to “take away” and also “to deny”. Therefore, Dylann Roof – stole from Charleston South Carolina some of its finest confirming the human agent as bigger than a colour coded description. He stole those of dignity, those conscious of their common created state of collective humanity the same America’s Declaration of Independence in 1776 as articulated by its founders of democracy penned, …. we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

For Roof, those who gathered in the prayer meeting have no equal identity in creation, they are not endowed by a common Creator with certain inalienable rights. Chiefly these rights cannot be life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – they constitute a problem for those who are according to Roof epistemology the real human agent and those are denoted as “white”. Thus they must die in their less human state of blackness for they are the deadly virus of threat to the true identity of a  supreme white identity.

What does it say of the American society and dream of equality if an uninformed young man can walk into a church and kill informed older ones who toil for that equality even spent the night in prayer for that? It says after more than 239 years of this Declaration of Independence America has failed to let the non- racial reality count.

Dylann Roof thus entered a church building but not just any church building, he entered an institution as a frontier against racist, prejudice and injustice meted out in another epoch where the South of the USA was eternally defined as the epicentre of racial prejudice against those with an exacted black denotation for their human agency. He rips apart scab from a struggling healing wound of pain and anguish that generations of people of the South of black description had to contend with as exacted punishment for their otherness.

Dylann Roof enters the zone that RD lived and found her essential humanity, where she inhaled that which constitutes her uncontested humanity, the same for which she made conscious and costly decisions. Dylan Roof did not enter this space and comfort of a Rachel Dolezal dwelling violently, he entered camouflaged in simplicity as one seeking penitence and prayerful reflection, but with unknown to his victim vituperative evil intentions. How happy may those have been to welcome him, for his presence meant for them their prayers of  a non-racial South are answered.

By his own admission as related to police he hesitated at first, the primary reason for his hesitance was nothing but the love hospitality and kindness with which he was received as he entered the gathering of believers. Yes, a love that despite centuries of abuse stubbornly refuses to be contaminated by the same venom that is pillaged upon their being. A love some have defined the weakness of the black identity, their capacity to forgive those who had always served them with respite and agony. It is this love that Rachel Dolezal defines as her heritage her upbringing for she knew no other siblings but those she lived with who actualised this love and infused in her now contested identity.

When Dylann Roof causes blood to flow in the place of love, he not only marred a church history that revolts the very acts of his racist mind, but he without flinching reminded America how far the divide is for those who have shown a truculence to move to the centre of a humanity defined less by pigmentation or melanin distribution or lack thereof. Notice Dylann Roof knows where to find those whom he see as the problem, he does not take his fight to the hoods of Charleston, where potentially he would have met his match, no he carefully chooses his victims in a most defenseless place, the four walls of a church.

When Dylan Roof entered through the doors of the Emmanuel AME church he entered in whiteness intend on making blackness distinct, he knew where to find  the problem of America if not the world, right here in a church.

Perhaps Dylan Roof should have killed whiteness, in embracing his friends as equals and let that count, the same with no bullet is needed but a conscious decision to value others less from a supremacist notion. Maybe he should have allowed the experienced love to overwhelm him and confirm to him the sameness of identity.

When whiteness stood up and decided to blast away nine lives he didn’t just blow away nine lives but destroyed at least 4 generations of people who died at the hand of a sick-terrorist-hate infested young mind. In the aftermath and a pending bail hearing I again hear blackness speak when they notwithstanding the agony of having lost loved ones opt to forgive Dylan Roof.  (Perhaps the agony of the black identity his quickness to forgive whites for the evil they do, is it that unbeknown to them they have accepted their lot as that which must be violated?)

America’s problem of race no different to our South African problem of race, is not the fact that there exist no Declaration of Independence or a very egalitarian Constitution that articulates a pathway to a non- racial society. It is the harsh reality  that both these nations are confronted with the stark reality to have to give content to this non-racial identity of dream so often marred by the ugliness of its absence.

Perhaps it is here that I want to postulate for blackness to die, it’s reason for existence called whiteness must first go. The anchor tenant of the racial dilemma in the USA and RSA is the worship in history, present and future of a ‘white’ identity evidenced in white privilege informed by a white supremacy mind. For there is only a black identity because there is a white identity, the one feeds of the other and thus demands the demise of the other. Perhaps if more people with the denotation of black can reject this appropriated dictum of description, they too would kill whiteness which only lives and coalesce in the presence of a blackness of acceptance. 

Our insistence on holding on to either of the two evils is our looming nightmare that ensures another Dylann Roof who knows when and where.

Our obsession with denigrating a Rachel Dolezal from behind our entrenched picket fences symbolizes  the lethal weapons of whiteness and that of a retaliatory blackness in an enmeshed proverbial atom of destruction of humanity.

It is cause for great concern,  if the USA after more than almost two and half centuries of democracy in this season dismally fail to let its Statute on an equal humanity count – it does not bode well for us at the foot of Africa who are trying to shed the shackles of our colonialism of a special kind.

Ours is to consciously demand, Democratic South African State in post-apartheid sense to identify its client for the 1910 State with the 1913 Land Act did so. The 1948 Apartheid State did the same until Act 30 of 1950 (c) defined people as Coloured.

However, we must consciously forge ahead and challenge the frontier of identity construction and ask again and again for the new identifiers that will assist our reconfiguring of what constitutes identity in a non-racial society the journey we embarked upon gallantly at the dawn of democracy two decades ago.

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine

Political Commentator


USA 2012 Presidential Elections: The Basketball Hoop vs. The Shrine !

– The tale of a basketball Hoop and a Shrine, the race for the White House –

We in the dead straight as sprinters would quip, with less than 3 weeks to the end of campaigning for the USA presidential contest. Speculators, commentators, analysts and those who claim to know call it a dead-heat with less than 2% of opinion informed by three debates held so far.

Those who believe Obama will be dethroned; base their entire conclusion in my opinion on the first of the three debates, which Obama readily admits, was a bad day at work. They advance that if Obama could have an off day he may not be fit to lead another term. Americans often vote purely informed by sentiment making voting a tricky issue because an off day could earn you the wrath of the voters in punishment. These argue that America under Obama is heading the wrong way, lacks a basic claimed grit of single world leader status. They opine America is compromised in economic sense, wounded in world leader status, and vulnerable for attack. They advance these and argue Obama’s plans failed in fact he has no plan.

On the other hand, those who want the basketball hoop to remain in the White House, argue that the Obama plan has saved America from the conundrum and mess of war its 43rd president GW Bush lumped the USA. They saying the change that Obama advocates is not an overnight thing but a process, which warrants a second term. They remonstrate this president has put the USA back into a respectful position as no more the pet-hate subject of the world. These postulates Obama has turned around the economy and recent statistics on employment shows an upward curve though slow, but indisputable. They advance that rock bottom was hit a long time ago and the upward move is now entrenched.

Perhaps my summary of the contest is best explained in what I choose to call the “Tale of the Basketball Hoop and The Shrine.” I shall be bold to argue this election is not any contest exemplified in neck and neck race, if the facts and not sentiment so often wrongly the barometer of our public and even intellectual assessment is the standard.

There is no contest for Barack Obama in an American setting as I have concluded a long time ago is a domestic president par excellence and must be judged for and on that score. The history of American elections for two term presidents speak volumes. If memory serves correctly, the last president to serve one term was the ever-active Jimmy Carter. America in its worst and best of times understood implicitly the necessity for presidents to be afforded more than one term to serve. This has less to do with the issue of party political preference for it happened with both Republicans and Democrats evenly. Perhaps the only time a president will not serve two terms is if death, dread-disease, or impeachment becomes deciding factors. America is a matured democracy and understands the need for this two-term presidency.

Obama has shown his leadership qualities and plan amidst an extremely difficult season of four years. Difficult for many reasons, firstly the global economy has spiralled out of control in a downward trend, sending nations into helter-skelter ambivalence of responses. The USA originated recession that visited upon the world stage is stubbornly nagging and taunting at any and every effort of its demise. The big boys club of Davos remains vacuous and out of constructive ideas on a way forward to stymie a Europe that teeters on bankruptcy with Greece, Spain, Italy and who knows else in the doldrums of a fight against and unseen enemy though created by the essence of a capitalism that needs no more defence.

Obama though at the start a squeaky clean character and the face of unborn innocence, in these four years became the face of war when he had to contend with wars brought about by a previous administration and proved soluble to fall for a European invasion of Libya (the worst spot against this Democrat leader’s name).

He equally goes to the ballot box accredited for smoking out Osama Bin Laden, the man America loved to hate for the now historic 9-11 atrocious events. Obama in this singular event that defied the codes of international affairs best practice with the sovereignty of nations as supreme compromised became the hero of America. This event as much as condemned by the world as a bully tactic exercise in domestic sense is a huge victory, for he will be remembered in history as the president that dealt with Osama Bin Laden, the ghost or threat from a Bush-era.

Obama goes to the ballot box for having seen the stabilizing of the American Banking sector after a short nationalisation and bail out exercise. Obama goes to voting day as the president who kept the Israeli interest on the foreground, again wrongly so for those of international diplomacy context but essential for a domestic contest.

Regardless to how Romney’s campaign sought to create a chasm in the minds of the voters as to how vulnerable Israel’s interests remain under a Obama administration, the truth is the two nation-state advanced by Obama is really an old Democratic stance mirrored in William Jefferson Clinton’s handle on Middle-East diplomacy. Obama therefore is consistent with a greater worldview that neither claims advanced by both Nations are without justification. It may be wrongly perceived by some as him being weak yet he is not overtly weak for he is consistently articulating a standing Democratic Party stance.

Obama as president on the home front has adopted the South African model of NCA (National Credit Act) which is a huge step away from the free for all access to credit splurge America was known for in days gone by. This new credit act makes it difficult for all to have access to money and credit lines, yet it deals with the issue of inflation and imbalance of credit flow. It equally in a leadership moral sense deals with the social consciousness of a society in which 10 credit cards per person was not a strange phenomenon.

Obama goes to the ballot box rightfully confident that he made history in getting his National Health plan adopted by both houses. This may be a challenge for some who has taken refuge in courts pursuit in some few states yet this almost 200-year-old fight to equalize the national health context is legislation now and Obama achieved this.

Obama goes to the voting day, with America perhaps safer from foreign attack the same, which was a very real threat under his predecessor. Hence, though the USA is not as safe as under a Clinton, it is much safer than under both last Republican administrations of Bush definition.

It is thus my view; Obama will slam-dunk this 2012 presidential race because America does not need a Romney shrine rooted in protecting the affluent at the expense of the poor. He will gain a three pointer and shoot with no defence from the Shrine, because the shrine remains static and has not proven flexible to understand the prevailing American requirements for leadership.

Obama, The Hoop will get a foul because The Shrine has committed an offensive foul by entering this race, offensive because his history remains in Corporate America remains the truth he should be judged by. Obama the Hoop, will do a thorough-pass and send himself into the basket for a hold up to dunk as an over-arm move because the shrine has made this a race less of fact but fiction.

Obama The Hoop will keep the lead in access of a 10-point because as much as domestic America is less concerned with the global world, he remains more the logical, scientific, intellectual mind towering in astuteness over the floundering gaffe-ridden in foreign diplomacy Shrine.

The Shrine will not get any time-out, because he is out of time. In the end, the horn at full-time will blow and we all will see the flickering scorecard Obama the Hoop 111 points and The Shrine a paltry 82, claiming his second term and earning the place in history as the president who staved off a challenge but was never really in a contest.

Maybe he will then be willing to concede that he entered that first debate having already been to the mountain top and had seen the scorecard hence he played late into the night before the debate, for this was only a game no sweat at all. Those who know will tell, Americans prefer a basketball hoop anytime day or night to a shrine, in fact the basketball hoop is America’s shrine.

Obama will get his MVP, for he will not break the custom of two-term presidency routine.

Bishop Clyde N. Ramalaine Independent Observer

Courtesy : Tradewinds are blowing, political musings, and analysis

Due December 8, 2012