The worst terrorist attack on American soil made many American Muslims ask what could be done to root out virulent ideology and potentially dangerous people within our own communities.
It spawned a generation of greater political and social engagement by American Muslims, along with influencing the priorities in mosques.
It's time for white Americans to take the same approach to racism and extremism in their own communities.
"Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims," according to the latest count by New America, a Washington research center. Their tally found 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists.
Non-Muslim extremists have carried out 19 such attacks since 9/11, compared to seven lethal attacks by Islamic militants in the same period, the report found.
Authorities say Dylann Storm Roof killed nine African-Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina church last week after joining them in a Bible study. He is a 21-year-old white supremacist, a stark counter to the image of the "post-racial" millennials.
That image itself is misleading. White millennials, those born after 1980, are about as racist as their parents, according to a Washington Post analysis of five measures of racial prejudice from the General Social Survey.
About a third of millennials rated blacks as lazier and less hardworking than whites -- percentages similar to Gen X and baby boomers. Nearly a quarter rated blacks as less intelligent than whites, a bit higher than Gen X and in line with boomers. More than a third said blacks were less well-off because of less motivation -- again in the same ballpark as Gen X and boomers. Millennials were, however, less opposed to interracial marriage than previous generations.
Roof wrote in an apparent manifesto that he didn't grow up in a racist home.
So, where did his attachment to this racist ideology come from? He claims he was changed by revelations he discovered by the Council of Conservative Citizens online.
This sounds eerily familiar to the disaffected Muslim youths who reportedly became radicalized through information and groups they encountered online. The easy access to such communities gives safe haven to extremist thought. Of course, it's an oversimplification to say that Internet encounters lead to radicalization. But it's part of the toxic stew.
This generation distinguishes between their interpersonal relationships -- even Roof reportedly had black friends -- and their own racial prejudices.
When self-described Islamic terrorists attacked our country, the rest of the country said: Muslim moderates need to speak up! Many Muslim Americans embraced this idea. More authors, bloggers, journalists and activists realized they needed to tell their own stories, be louder advocates for justice and peace, and be more vigilant about what kind of information their children were receiving about religious beliefs.
The majority of white parents are raising children with values of equality and tolerance; they need to adopt this same approach, and speak up about these values.
American Muslims took a more proactive role in condemning violence, encouraging pluralism, fostering friendships with people of different faiths and working with authorities.
The two-thirds of white Americans who are willing to accept that racism is still a destructive force in our country, with blacks afforded fewer economic opportunities, more segregated housing choices, poorer schools and a harsher criminal justice system, need to speak up to the one-third whose views foster racist institutions and practices.
It takes courage to call racism what it is, especially when one in three white Americans may disagree. Roof's roommate reportedly heard him spout his racist views, his desire to start a civil war, his plans to commit some kind of attack.
While relatively few individuals follow the deranged homicidal path of extremists, the work of fighting racist or extremist thoughts within our communities is an ongoing struggle.
It's about more than preventing one's child from adopting racist views. It's about teaching them to have the courage to stand up to such views when they encounter them.