In a video created by AJ+, Southerners through South Carolina, including the hometown of Dylann Roof, a White man charged with nine counts of murder for nine Black lives at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, were asked one simple question:
"Is the South racist?"
The horrific hate-fueled murders of the nine lives lost in Charleston have stirred further conversations on racism and hate-related crimes around the country. But this video confronts the racism conversation head on, right in the same place where nine innocent people were gunned down in their church.
The video opens up with one gentlemen claiming that everyone sticks "up for their own kind." Following that exchange, the interviewer is seen asking a Black woman if she has experienced racism. Fairly quickly she responds, "No." But the gentleman following her, also Black, had a different response.
"I grew up in the south. I see a lot of things I didn't like," he said. "Well racism, I didn't like. I didn't like people against one another for the color of their skin, none of that. I hate it."
Next stop: the state capitol where the confederate flag is flying.
AJ+ visited the confederate flag at the capitol in Columbia. Its place there has long been a point of contention but now citizens and lawmakers calling for its removal from across the country.
One gentlemen, White, wearing a confederate flag designed shirt, insists that the South isn't racist.
Interestingly, a Black man featured immediately after suggested an explanation for the many different views on racism.
"If you ask most White people, 'How often do you think about race?' they would say, 'I don't,' right?" he explained. "So if you ask Black people, 'How often do you think about race?' I think most would say, 'Every day.'"
Ironically, standing near the Confederate flag, one gentlemen had an interesting perspective on segregation.
Following his observation that there are historic "all-Black colleges," one gentleman notes that during the time of institutional segregation in the U.S, "every body got along good."
For the next stop in Lexington, Roof's hometown, two people featured in the video expressed a belief that indeed racism does exist, saying, "Of course it is. It's the South."
Following this conversion, AJ+ spoke with a friend of Roof's, who said he wasn't surprised by his horrific actions: "We knew he was going to do something like that...but we never thought he would actually do it like that."
This video resulted in a varying of answers, perspectives and opinions on racism, a complex issue, especially in today's world. There may never be a cure for racism but as long as horrific murders, violence or forms of discrimination occur, it is something we undoubtedly need to address, consistently.