#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches, Black Twitter Demands Answers
Since the murderous acts of terror (which left nine Black people dead) at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina two weeks ago, six Black churches in the South have burned. While some are debating whether these incidents are “random,” many in the Black community believe that these occurrences are in direct response to the removal of the confederate flag from several state buildings and the threat of removal nationally by many activists. Given that this spate of church fires have only been at predominantly Black churches in the South, it seems clear that the events are connected. Right?
Fires have happened in South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. The most recent church burning happened just last night in Greeleyville, South Carolina at Mount Zion AME Church. This is the second time this church was burned down as members of the KKK attacked the church in 1995. That these churches are all concentrated in areas with known affiliations to hate groups and historical racism should raise red flags to officials and investigators that these are not random events. So far, three of these events have been confirmed as arson.
The most unsettling aspect of these recent acts of terror is how little the news media has discussed it. While it has been mentioned on the major networks here and there, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent show of concern for the blatant racism these incidents depict.
America has a long history of church burnings. And, these acts are meant to intimidate, exclude, and control Black people who often use churches for fellowship, activism, and social action. By setting Black churches ablaze, racists are sending the same message they sent decades ago: “You are not one of us. Stay in your place.” This isn’t random. It never has been. Frankly, our inability to face that is yet another reason why it continues to happen.
Twitter has been reacting to these events for the past few weeks using the hashtag #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches?
White supremacy is a cowardly social structure White supremacists are cowards-afraid to live among other people #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches
— MichaelaAngela Davis (@MichaelaAngelaD) July 1, 2015
— EBONY MAGAZINE (@EBONYMag) July 1, 2015
Define terrorism: Me telling my mother not to attend church this Sunday #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches
— Black Girl Nerds (@BlackGirlNerds) July 1, 2015
Will we need to wait until the number of black churches burned ascend to double digits!? #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches
— Darnell L. Moore (@Moore_Darnell) July 1, 2015
— Reggie Cunningham (@kidnoble) July 1, 2015
— Homeless (@UnToldCarlisle) July 1, 2015
Don't insult your black friends by offering sympathy. We're not looking for pity. We want justice. Resolution. #WhosBurningBlackChurches
— Keith White (@keethers) July 1, 2015
The general sentiment here is that these acts are likely due to terror and racism and the place where they intersect. So, it goes without saying that rooting out the actors behind these events is extremely important. But there is more to it than that. While the initial question is important, it is also vital that we ask: when is America going to care? And, when are we going to do something about it?
Those questions remain unanswered. Sadly, until we at least try to address them, the church burnings will likely continue.
Photo Credit: CLAREDON COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT VIA TWITTER
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