Posted on September 9, 2020

America’s Race War Has Begun

Kartik Kannan, The Pitt News, September 9, 2020

After killing nine Black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Dylann Roof confessed to his heinous crime in the early hours of June 18, 2015, claiming that his intention was to ignite a race war in the United States. Five years have now passed, and it appears that Roof has had his horrific wish granted.

Racial tension between Black and white Americans has brewed in the United States. Even with the end of slavery and explicit segregation, the American system has continued to subjugate Black people to the will of the white majority through actions like disparate sentencing and the school-to-prison pipeline. But as devastating as these policies have been, the main form of discrimination that has inflamed the underlying hostility between Black and white people has been the tragic shootings of Black civilians by the police.

While the police killings of Tamir Rice, Michael Gray, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner and Philando Castile sparked large-scale protests, these protests were mostly peaceful and saw very limited cases of violence perpetrated by either side. Now, though, with the police killings of George Floyd and Daniel Prude and shooting of Jacob Blake, the images coming out of Americans from Wisconsin and Minneapolis to Los Angeles and New York paint a grim reality of what our nation currently faces. This is no longer a movement — it is an all-out war.

The race war the United States faces is not like a typical war, where combatants meet on the battlefield and fight until there is a winner and a loser. While police forces across the nation are partly responsible for setting this conflict in motion, they are not the true enemy in this fight. Instead, similar to the war on drugs and the war on terror, this race war is an effort against an intangible force — institutional racism.


Given the current state of the race war, the lack of cooperation and willingness to work to bring about major reform threatens to see the race war end in a similar fashion to the war on drugs and war on terror. At a minimum, the looting and violence that has followed recent protests will continue to hamper the businesses hurt most by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the distrust of the police will continue to grow. But more importantly, Black people will continue to live in fear of the police.


History will remember 2020 for many reasons, not least of all the racial conflicts that occurred over the past four months. It is now the choice of every American to decide whether to perpetuate the race war or work to change the condition of Black people in the United States. {snip}