PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Dr. Charles Gallagher, Chair of the Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice Department at La Salle University, addressed the shooting of nine African-Americans by a white supremacist in South Carolina, saying it could serve as a wake up call to the nation in terms of race relations.
Gallagher told Gary R’Nel on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT that the racist views expressed by Dylan Roof can still be found in pockets of America.
“We can’t ignore this any long. There’s an issue of pathology and this white man was targeting people solely because they were black. People can spin it how they want but we know what he said, we know from his images, his words: they’re raping our women, they’re taking over. I think it would be easy to think this guy is a one off, is an anomaly, is an aberration. Certainly, most people don’t engage in this behavior, but what he’s thinking, the feelings he has, the fact is a lot of these attitudes, sadly, they hang in the white community.”
He believes this tragic incident should lead the country to re-visit presumptions that are made about race and racism.
“Most white people in the United States now believe that we have turned the corner and we are color blind. Most whites in the United States, and again this national polling data, they believe that blacks and whites have the same opportunity. They believe that racial equality has been achieved. Almost half, 40 percent of all whites in the United States now believe that discrimination is as much a problem for white folks as it is for black folks. We can point to a black President, a female black Attorney General, there’s not shortage of people in the media that white Americans can point to and say, hey, we’ve turned the corner, the playing field is level, I don’t want hear talk about race anymore. Then we have this, and then you have to say maybe what you’re thinking about is confusing the ‘ought’ and the ‘is.'”
Gallagher also addressed the complexity in the arguments over the removal of the Confederate flag is South Carolina that was spurred on by the shooting.
“On one level, what we have been exposed to is a kind of racism we thought we have moved beyond and he forces us to look in the mirror. At the same time, you have a flag flying over the capital that is a symbol historically of oppression, of domination, of hatred that he used to, basically, justify the execution of these people.”