Friday News Bites: Charleston Shooting, Rachel Dolezal + More

So much has happened this week, primarily centering around one story: Race in America. We started out with the ridiculousness that is Rachel Dolezal and ended with the tragic church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. Let’s get started.

Rachel Dolezal:

On Monday, Jazmin covered bits of the Rachel Dolezal story in her PoC News roundup.

Back in 2002, Dolezal sued Howard University for discrimination… over her being white. Yeah.

She has now resigned her position with Spokane NAACP.

And since her parents outed her, some reporters are taking a closer look at the parents themselves. Apparently, they used a homeschooling method that advocates sibling-on-sibling corporal punishment, among other awful things. This might explain why she became the guardian of her adopted brother.

Here are some other reactions and smart thoughts about this woman:

From Awesomely Luvvie:

Although race is considered a social construct, it’s still very real. Socially constructed things become real when they’re embedded in the culture. Money and language are social constructs too. Santa Claus is too and we sit our yanshes down on December 25th every year and exchange gifts that we say are from him.

From Michael P. Jeffries at The Boston Globe:

[I]t is troubling that so many of us now know the name and story of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who passed as black advocate, rather than the names of countless black women who occupy the front lines in the war against racism. Dolezal is a national phenomenon, but Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, the activists who started the Black Lives Matter campaign, are scarcely recognized. Dolezal’s peculiar and sensational fall from grace have made her more recognizable than Rekia Boyd and Natasha McKenna, two black women among many who were killed by police with little national attention. Uncovering the truth about Dolezal is no substitute for speaking the names and telling the stories of true martyrs and warriors in the battle for social justice.

And at The Seattle Globalist, Ijeoma Oluo:

If Rachel Dolezal really, truly cared about the black community, then she would have known (especially as a professor of African-American studies) how inappropriate it is as a white woman to try to speak for black people. She would have known that Blackness is more than skin-deep. She would have stayed in her Whiteness and done the hard and necessary work that white allies need to do. She would have used her privilege to make changes in the white community. She would have worked to dismantle the system of privilege that apparently had made Whiteness so unattractive to her.

Charleston Shooting:

Late Wednesday night, news broke that someone had fired shots in the historic Emanuel AME Church, during a prayer meeting, in Charleston, South Carolina.

By Thursday, the shooter was identified as Dylann Roof, and he was apprehended in North Carolina. Buzzfeed News has a good round up of the events as they unfolded.

These are the names of the nine people confirmed dead:

  • Susie Jackson
  • Reverend Depayne Middleton-Doctor
  • Daniel L. Simmons
  • Ethel Lee Lance
  • Myra Thompson
  • Tywanza Sanders
  • Cynthia Hurd
  • Reverend Clementa Pinckney
  • Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

In a stunning moment of bad taste, Charleston’s Post and Courier ran an ad for a local gun range next to their coverage of the shooting. They have since apologized.

On a somewhat related note: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Texas cannot be required to allow the Confederate flag on car license plates.

All eyes on you, South Carolina.

PS: Gun manufacturer Colt filed for bankruptcy earlier this week.

In Other News:

Thousands of Haitians face deportation from the Dominican Republic after strict anti-immigration laws went into effect:

Tensions rose in 2013 when a court declared that the children of undocumented Haitian immigrants — even those born in the Dominican Republic — would no longer be entitled to citizenship, leaving hundreds of thousands of people stateless. After an international outcry, the law was changed to giving citizenship to those whose births were in the nation’s civil registry; those who were not would have a chance at nationalization.

John Oliver had Helen Mirren read the the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture, in an episode that “focused on the disconnect between public perception of torture and its real-life applications.”

Speaking of presidential candidates, apparently there are some amusing things buried in the source code of their websites.

Now it looks like FIFA president Sepp Blatter might not resign after all.

The six Berkeley students who were killed in a balcony collapse have been publicly identified. Most were Irish exchange students.

Despite the public goodwill towards replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, the U.S. Treasury has decided instead to put a woman on the $10 bill.

Rosetta’s Philae lander, the spacecraft that landed on a comet and went into hibernation mode in November, woke back up.

Fire crews from the lower 48 states are being called up to Alaska to fight a wildfire that has so far consumed 6,500 acres. [auto-playing video]

In Entertainment:

Brian Williams will not return as NBC Nightly News anchor — the position will now officially be Lester Holt’s, who had been filling in, and previously was the Nightly News weekend anchor — but Williams will still work for NBC in some capacity.

Sir John Hurt, and War Doctor in our hearts, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, though he says he’s optimistic about the outcome.

Do you have a 9-12 year old? Here are some book recommendations to keep them interested in reading over the summer.

Janet Jackson is going on tour again. Color me jealous, all of you who get to go.


Until next time, friends.

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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