Racism still exists. It's not the out-in-the-open form of racism we used to see. It's closeted. Instead of white-sheeted marchers in holiday parades waving the Confederate Battle Flag, it's the wink-and-nod variety.
Things are getting better, though. This week's shooting of black churchgoers during prayer in South Carolina was done by a lone gunman intent on starting a race war. He has failed. In South Carolina - the one Southern state which still flies the Confederate Battle Flag over their Capitol - blacks and whites have come together in solidarity to condemn this attack, and the person who did it.
I'm not going to use the attacker's name. I'm not going to try to explain why he did what he did. He has wrought this horror of his own volition. But I will say this - he did not exist in a vacuum. There is a community of individuals out there who preach hate, who advocate violence and murder. This young man deserves the ultimate penalty for what he's done, but we should not stop at him. We should root out and expose those individuals who gave tacit moral support to the kind of mentality that makes it okay to do this. It is no different from Islamofascist terrorists who exploit online forums or maddrasseh to preach their message of hate. When one of their talibeh go out and commit an atrocity, we don't just hold the individual with the gun accountable. We hold the entirety of fundamentalist Islam accountable. The same needs to be done with these lone-wolf mass killers. The communities they seek out for support need to be held accountable. The people who do not act to stop or at least discourage these impulses need to be held accountable.
Everywhere else, people of good conscience need to act in even the smallest ways. When you get a wink and a nod, remember that 9 people died in a church because of a set of beliefs that started with an off color comment, and was cemented with a wink and nod. Make sure that person knows you don't share their way of thinking.