This story is finally
starting to hit the major press: in the past week, six black churches have burned down. Three of them are being investigated as arson, and the other three are still being examined by fire investigators -- but are highly likely to be arson as well.
I try to put this into my own world and imagine: if six synagogues had been torched the week after a major anti-Semitic terrorist attack, I would be thinking about nothing else. It would be front page, above the fold, in every newspaper in the country. Why, then, is this only now receiving proper coverage?
If you ask why these churches are so important -- why these aren't just ordinary arsons, or arsons against churches first and black churches second -- you can go back to what President Obama said in his eulogy for Clementa Pinckney a few days ago (which people are starting to refer to as "the 'grace' speech"):The church is and always has been the center of African American life; a place to call our own in a too-often hostile world, a sanctuary from so many hardships.Over the course of centuries, black churches served as hush harbors, where slaves could worship in safety, praise houses, where their free descendants could gather and shout “Hallelujah.” Rest stops for the weary along the Underground Railroad, bunkers for the foot soldiers of the civil-rights movement.They have been and continue to community centers, where we organize for jobs and justice, places of scholarship and network, places where children are loved and fed and kept out of harms way and told that they are beautiful and smart and taught that they matter.That’s what happens in church. That’s what the black church means — our beating heart, the place where our dignity as a people is inviolate.
"The place where our dignity as a people is inviolate:" one of the best distillations of an idea I have heard. A phrase likely to enter the English lexicon. These churches are not simply houses of worship to a god you or I may not share; they are the centers of their communities, and more, they are and have been the refuges and safe harbors of their communities since the days of slavery.
I am glad to see that the news is finally covering this, but why has it taken so long? And how long will it take to stop those responsible, and bring the ones who have already burned buildings to justice? #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches