“You rape our women and you’re taking over our country,” Dylann Roof is reported to have said as he opened fire on African Americans in Charleston, killing nine.
His claim to act in women’s – which is to say white women’s – defense is as old as white male supremacy itself, and it’s been refuted for just as long.
Ida B. Wells Barnett was the first to debunk lies like Roof’s. Over a century ago, she reported the facts and led the campaign to stop lynching. Jessie Daniel Ames, a white single mother of three, responded to the call. Ames founded the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching in 1930, which gathered tens of thousands of signatures on a pledge that read in part:
“[P]ublic opinion has accepted too easily the claim of lynchers and mobsters that they are acting solely in defense of womanhood… We dare no longer to permit this claim to pass unchallenged…”
White supremacist killers have never stopped using the false pretext of acting in women’s defense. Women of color (as well as men) have perished as a result, and not just in the US. Because not only vigilantes but also our politicians have used the pretext of “protecting” women to defend their imperial wars. In my lifetime alone – from the invasion of Grenada (to “rescue” white female medical students) to the invasion of Iraq, there’s not been a war that wasn’t waged in “women’s” name, to devastating result on women and men alike.
“One thing is for certain,” said George W Bush shortly after the invasion of Iraq. “There won’t be any more mass graves and torture rooms and rape rooms.” Hah. His own global torture regime was just then taking root.
The interests white supremacist patriarchal killers serve are their own, their own, their own. Self appointed watchman, George Zimmerman, and killer policemen Daniel Pantaleo, Dante Servin and the rest do not “serve’ or protect people in peril. They put us there, as do our packed prisons and jails, and all the rapacious businesses that make pathological private profits off public pain.
Just to be clear: I am not Dylann Roof’s woman. Racist, patriarchal violence does not make me safe. It divides me from people I love and tells me real lies about who and what pose a real threat to my life.
White, female, queer, I also know by now that one of white supremacy’s goals is to keep me in my place: silent and separate from my sisters and others with whom I might otherwise make common cause. I refuse. And I am not alone.
Women of all colors refute this violence and reject the claim that this killing is in our name. We also pledge to act. A statement is right now being finalized. If you want to sign up, or find out more, write to me laura@GRITtv.org. Thanks.