ICYMI: They're Burning Black Churches In The South... Again

It's been a busy past two weeks in the news cycle. Between Supreme Court rulings on Obamacare and Gay Marriage, the manhunt of escaped murderers in New York, the Confederate Flag debate, and President Obama saying "Nigger", there's been a lot for the media to talk about. The most shocking story to emerge, of course, was the attack on the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston. We are familiar with it, no need to rehash on the story itself. However, in case you missed it, the least covered headline in mainstream news is that since Dylann Roof decided to pull the trigger on nine unsuspecting churchgoers on that ill-fated night, three Black churches in the south have been burned to the ground.

I can understand why you might have missed it. In a time where racial tension is at a peak, why would the media want to report on something that would fuel the flame? Its not like they are in the business of "ratings" or anything. Surely, in a "Christian nation", pictures of a house of God set ablaze would qualify as sensational enough for at least a 15 minute segment, right? I mean they have focused on ISIS blowing up Christian churches half a world away with wall to wall coverage for the past year, force fed us the narrative of how much we are supposed to care about it, even tried to convince us that war should be waged to stop such heinous acts. Meanwhile, here at home, within the span of one weeks time Briar Creek Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, God's Power Church in Macon, Georgia, and Glover Baptist Church in Gloverville, South Carolina were all turned to ashes in the darkness of night and little more than a peep has been mentioned about it. Where's Don Lemon when you need him? 

I remember growing up watching the old "Eyes on the Prize" PBS series. I remember touring the South with the NAACP youth council every summer and walking through the racial hotbeds of Alabama, and Georgia, and Mississippi. I sat in the spot where a hole was blown into the Sixteenth Street Church in Birmingham, killing four innocent young girls. There is one common denominator. Attacks on African American houses of faith has long been at the epicenter of racial intolerance and intimidation in the South. Churches are, in cities across the country, the heart of Black community. They are the center of socialization and the personification of unity. During the Civil Rights Movement, churches were the primary multi-purposed headquarters for meetings, mobilization, planning, recovery, and action along side their normal schedule of praise, prayer, and worship. In most instances, the church house was the only safe haven for blacks to congregate, so an attack on the Black church was a dagger directly to the heart of the movement. It had lasting and drastic affects. 

The 1996 Matthews-Murkland Presbyterian Church burning in Charlotte, NC (Chuck Burton/AP)

The 1996 Matthews-Murkland Presbyterian Church burning in Charlotte, NC (Chuck Burton/AP)

The burning church has been the picture of racial intolerance in America for nearly a century, and for a century these acts of terror have flown under the media radar, unnoticed. These aren't the first incidents of minority church arson this year. In the span of two months in the beginning of 2015, one historically Black church mysteriously caught fire and was investigated as arson, and an Islamic Mosque fire was outright ruled intentionally set, Both in Houston, Texas. Again, not much in the form of media coverage then either. Not since the string of church burnings under Clinton's administration in the mid 1990's has America witnessed such attacks of such a racially charged nature on minority houses of worship.

In the same week the FBI released a report declaring the greatest threat to our nation is found not in Islamic Jihadist terrorism, but in domestic, right-winged conservative groups, three distinct acts of terror have occurred on American soil, more than likely, committed by the very people government agencies warned about.  Imagine the uproar if a predominantly Caucasian Catholic church was set ablaze by an Islamic man. How invested would the media be? Every time an analyst fixes their mouth to tout racial progress, somewhere in America, someone reminds us we aren't that far removed from where we used to be.