Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC, June 17

College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church, Knoxville, TN, June 22

God’s Power Church of Christ, Macon, GA, June 23

Briar Creek Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC, June 24

NOTE:

Fruitland Presbyterian Church was among the list of suspected arsons, but on the evening of June 30, Tennessee Bomb and Arson investigators concluded that the fire was caused by a lightning strike during a storm on June 24.

Glover Grove Baptist Church, in Warrenville, SC, was destroyed by fire on June 26. Authorities could not determine the ultimate cause or root of the fire.

Also on June 26, the Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church of Tallahassee, FL, was destroyed by fire. As of June 30, a final determination had not been made, but it was expected that the cause was electrical wiring.

As I write this, Mount Zion AME Church in Greeleyville, SC is in flames. I have posted tweets with the #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches tag, as have some 70,000 Twitter users. Now, a little digging proved that of the seven fires destroying churches with predominantly Black congregations, three were not arson, which is small succor.

If we presume that the fire at Mount Zion is in fact arson, that’s five acts of terrorism against Black people in the South in less than two weeks.

Now, luckily, there have been no casualties involved in the church fires. Again: that is little relief.

The media has shifted focus and the names of the victims of the shooting are fading into memory: Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson. Instead, we are now transfixed on the 21 year old white supremacist who killed those nine people…simply because they were black.

Since the murders, a discussion has begun into the true meaning of the confederate flag, and whether flying it is a form of institutional racism (hint: yes).

Anyone (such as noted jackass Bill O’Reilly) who says racism is not a problem are either racist themselves, or deluded.

Recent developments and altercations between young black people and the police, presented against the treatment of the Charleston Church Murderer prove this country still has a race problem. Need more proof? There are decades upon decades of overt and subtle mistreatment of non-white people in this country to help you figure out that the United States is a nasty, nasty place to live if you aren’t rich and white.

I grew up literally being able to see the Emanuel spire from my home. I was raised a similar distance from a monument to Stonewall Jackson in Richmond. The South is a part of me, and I know it well.

I have embraced elements of my southern heritage, the food in particular, and a hopefully honest quiet demeanor. What I have avoided is its history. Its history of secessionism, racism, and willful, prideful ignorance.

I love the South, and hate it all at once.

But the problem isn’t just the South. America seems to have sold itself on the notion that a black president means that racism is over.

Hardly. Up until June 17, overt racism was seemingly in decline, replaced by a more virulent strain of institutional racism, the kind that oppresses through subtlety like gerrymandering, tax laws, and educational limitations, all built upon the long-held economic system that values oil over people.

Now that one young individual has tried to start a race war, it almost seems like he may have succeeded. Perhaps that is the reason larger news outlets have fallen over themselves to not cover these arsons. I hope so. I hope that CNN, ABC, NBS, CBS, and Fox News hope to not feed the racism that is bubbling to the surface with these crimes. But racism cannot be treated like a toddler. Out of sight does not mean out of mind.

Economic and racial tensions are growing, and it is a discussion we must have if we are to advance as a people. White privilege is dying, but it’s not going quietly into the light.

Black lives are being lost in the struggle, though, much as they were fifty years ago, and in the years and decades before that. We can’t ignore it anymore, and we owe it to future generations to acknowledge the problems we face as Americans, if we are to truly advance as a nation, and avoid once again splitting into two –or more- tribes at war tearing families apart and running the rivers red with our arrogance and mistakes.

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