Author Tim Parrish, an LSU alumnus raised in Baton Rouge, said in a New York Daily News guest column Sunday that he “grew up a Southern racist,” “learned how to hate at home and at church” and “drank from the same poisonous well as Dylann Roof.”
Roof, 21, is accused of entering Charleston's historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church this past Wednesday, sitting for nearly an hour at a Bible study class, then opening fire on the participants and killing nine of them.
In his column, Parrish said growing up a racist allows him to identify and describe how another person “comes to loathe those of a different skin color.”
“They (my parents) were afraid that blacks in general ‘threatened’ our values and would be the ruination of white culture, whatever that was. And because of fear and a desire to fit in, I got on board with the escalating racism and violence as my high school naturally desegregated and African Americans moved toward our neighborhood, white flight beginning slowly and becoming a complete migration by the time I graduated in 1976.
“I participated in gang fights, raised a chain to a black boy three years younger than my 15 years and even considered going along with talk about burning some black people's house after a friend was stabbed.”
Perhaps the most pointed line in Parrish’s column is when rhetorically asks if Roof could’ve been one of his friends.
“Yes. My best friend and guide in all things racist never shot anyone, but I saw him savage many young black men, throw a ninja star at a fleeing black stranger and wave his .44 Magnum with intent.”
Parrish, an English professor at Southern Connecticut State University, is the author of “Fear and What Follows: The Violent Education of a Christian Racist, a Memoir,” “The Jumper,” and “Red Stick Men.” He earned two degrees from LSU and a degree from the University of Alabama.
Click here to read his full column, including his insights on how he thinks society should do about racism and racist violence.