As I sit here typing this, Mount Zion AME Church of Greeleyville, South Carolina is ablaze.
For the 7th time in the past 10 days, a black church in the United States has been set on fire.
For the 7th time in the past 10 days, domestic terrorists have targeted predominantly African American places of worship in pathetic attempts to spread their hate and petulance.
And for the 7th time in the past 10 days, the nation as a whole has displayed a completely underwhelming response.
I’ve been told that I shouldn’t call this domestic terrorism, because the term is ‘too scary’ or ‘too much,’ and that’s exactly why I’m using it here. This is domestic terrorism. This is scary and it is too much. These are violent acts committed by citizens of the United States in efforts to instill fear as a tactic to advance a hateful, fear-driven agenda.
And what are we doing about it?
We’re telling ourselves that it’s nothing. Trying to convince ourselves that these fires are all isolated incidents… mere coincidences.
We’re dismissing multiple acts of domestic terrorism while hundreds are grieving over the destruction of their home churches, and thousands are grieving over the destruction of their hope for a brighter tomorrow— a tomorrow that doesn’t revolve around fear of where and when the next attack is going to be.
We’re ignoring the issue that’s much larger than these 7 attacks.
So what can we do?
We can talk about it. We can address it head-on and call it what it is. We can stop pretending it’s not happening and we can try to understand it.
Black churches have been targets of domestic terrorism for decades, and a common assumption we tend to make is that they are a thing of the past— when we think of racism, our minds tend to jump back to the 50’s and 60’s. But there were more attacks against black churches in 1995 and 1996 alone than there were in all of 1950-1994 combined.
There have been more attacks against black churches IN MY LIFETIME (I’m twenty) than there were in the 50’s and 60’s. Far more.
We need to stop blaming older generations and start taking responsibility for the racism that is alive and feeding throughout North America today.
I’m not blaming you for attacks against black churches. I’m not blaming you for racism. But I am asking 3 things of you.
1) Acknowledge the undeniable. I’m asking you to accept and admit the fact that racism is not behind us, and that it won’t be until we can all come to terms with it.
2) If you know anything at all about any of the attacks that American black churches have been facing- if you have ANY information that you think could be helpful in any way whatsoever- call the police. Tell them anything and everything you know. Don’t sit back and let this happen. I’m not above begging here. Please. Please come forward.
3) When you see racism, when you hear racism, when you witness it firsthand— call it out. Do not ignore it. Do not dismiss it.
Or decades from now we’re going to be facing the exact same problems we are today, wondering how on earth we let this go on for so long.