Laurie Essig Ph.D.

Love, Inc

White Supremacy and Dream Weddings

Dylan Roof's sister had to cancel her wedding after he murdered 9 people

Posted Jul 02, 2015

Vintage
Source: Vintage

When Dylan Roof decided to murder nine people at the AME Emanuel Church in Charleston, SC, his sister, Amber, felt bad. Really bad. For herself. That's because she was supposed to be having her "dream wedding."  

When the wedding couldn't happen because the press "ruined it," she decided to make lemonade out of lemons. Amber started a fundraising campaign.to raise $5000 to cover the costs of lost wedding deposits and go on her dream honeymoon. 

According to the GoFundMe page Amber created: 

As many of you know Michael and I had to abruptly cancel our wedding day, due to the tragedy that occurred in Charleston. June 21st was supposed to be the happiest day of our lives. It is the day every girl dreams of, it was the day wedreamed of.  We had each other, we have the perfect venue, and we had our vows ready to be read.  We were ready! We had planned out every detail for months and months. It was going to be the PERFECT day!

Our wedding day was suppose to be the most important and special day of our lives. It was suppose to start our lives together with our new family. Our day was the exact opposite. Our wedding day was full of sorrow, pain, and shame, tainted by the actions of one man.

The Charleston Massacre took place and our lives were forever changed. The media abused our privacy and published all of our wedding information and destroyed our dream day. Destroying the first day of Michael and my life together.

Any reasonable person in the world is asking, "How could this young woman possibly think there was anything at all important about her wedding day in comparison to the horrendous acts of terrorism that her brother committed?" 

This is a fair question, but it misses how weddings - especially PERFECT! ones like Amber's- have come to be seen as both necessary and yet magical events in our lives.

Weddings are necessary because, as the recent Supreme Court decision regarding same sex marriage shows, our status as full citizens depends on entering into marriage. Without marriage we do not have access to 2000 plus rights and privileges that married people have, from social security to inheritance to hospital visitations.  

Yet weddings are also magical. We are told stories from the time we are young about ordinary girls who ride off into a future of extreme wealth and security. Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, but also Bella Swan from Twilight or even Anastasia Steele from the naughtier version, Fifty Shades of Grey. 

As most Americans face bleaker and bleaker economic futures, marriage is sold to us as the way we get to a better tomorrow. Forget the fact that a better tomorrow requires communal action to combat climate change and corporate greed and horrible acts of racial terrorism.  We are sold- especially young, white women are sold- the magical idea that the only thing that really matters is finding "the one" and riding off into the sunset with him. 

If only Amber could have learned from those her brother murdered: that true joy and happiness comes from caring about others and from taking care of your community. As President Obama said about Amber's brother:

“Blinded by hatred, he failed to comprehend what Reverend Pinckney so well understood, the power of God’s grace.”

The ideology of romance is not the same as the evil that is white supremacy. But Amber too was blinded- not by hate, but by love. It is a version of love that is selfish, elevating the couple above all others. Amber is not another sign that the Roof family is a mess. She is a sign that this is how romance operates; it is what turns brides into Bridezillas and a terrorist's sister into someone who feels victimized.