James Williams/Flickr

#JeSuisCharleston becomes a unifying force in wake of South Carolina massacre

Much like #JeSuisCharlie, it is a reminder of terror and unity.


Marisa Kabas


Published Jun 18, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 1:19 pm CDT

A terrorist attack on Jan. 7 at the Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo left 12 people dead. Six months later, the United States has suffered an attack nearly as deadly, with nine people dead after a shooting rampage at an historic Charleston, South Carolina, church.

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In the aftermath of the Hebdo massacre, people around the world and across social media banded together under the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag, which translates to “I am Charlie.” 

But it became more than a hashtag; it transcended the Web and became a symbol of world unity and anti-terror sentiment. Now, in the immediate wake of Charleston, people are wondering: Who are we?

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No sooner did people start asking these questions than others began tweeting in earnest with the hashtag #JeSuisCharleston, a clear callout to the #JeSuisCharlie trend from January.

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But the main distinction between the movement inspired by the events in France and the one spurred by Charleston, is that people had an identifiable enemy: terrorists. Specifically, Muslim terrorists. 

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However, the meaning of #JeSuisCharleston is unclear. Does it mean we stand in unity with the black community? The Christian community? Or do we stand against white supremacists? People against gun control? White people?

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Republican South Carolina senator and 2016 presidential candidate Lindsey Graham says the Charleston massacre is “not who we are, it’s not who our country is; it’s about this guy.” 

Which leaves people still wondering: Then who Je suis?

Photo via James Williams/Flickr (CC 2.0)

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*First Published: Jun 18, 2015, 4:21 pm CDT