American media focuses its attention on the Confederate flag conflict and other Confederate symbols while giving limited, if any, consideration as the south burns once again and eight southern churches are destroyed.
June has been the deadliest month for the black community since the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama burnings.
As news outlets across the world focus on history in the making, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage throughout the nation and the U.S. debate to remove confederate associated symbols from government facilities, Americans have also turned their attention to these historical events.
Our social conscious is proving to have limits, however, as after a long string of burnings, the eighth American church burns this week without the media attention or public outrage it deserves.
As of June 30, Mount Zion Ame Church in South Carolina is the seventh church to be set ablaze. All this in the wake of the killings of nine worshippers at Emanuel Ame Church in South Carolina on June 17 by self-proclaimed white supremacist Dylann Roof.
Within a week of that deadly massacre in Charleston, six southern churches had been set ablaze.
While the country debates the fate of the Confederate battle flag, its predecessors and any form of government representation of the long fallen confederacy, these atrocious burnings are but a slight mention in the current lexicon of political debate.
The media has almost gone mute, over-looking tragedy in the midst of social movements and in favor of a 150-year-old debate about a flag.
Lisa Klobuchar, author of1963 Birmingham Church Bombing: The Ku Klux Klan’s History of Terror, claims that since the end of the Civil War, white supremacists have attacked houses of worship to stir fear in black leaders and dissuade the improvement of the lives of blacks in America.
Recent attacks are a painful reminder of that history. Not since the 1963 Birmingham burnings has the south seen such a ceaseless stream of violence.
The Black Church evolved to capture the essence of a shared historical experience. For many Americans, religion is not just a belief system—it is an integral part of life. Because of this, the Black Church has become core component of the African American community.
June has seen a host of tragedies for that community as what appears to be a media-blackout in the wake of the burning south. USA Today reports the following churches as part of the aftermath of the shootings in South Carolina:
Sunday, June 21: College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee
Tuesday, June 23: God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia
Wednesday, June 24: Briar Creek Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina
Wednesday, June 24: Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tennessee
Friday, June 26: Greater Miracle Temple church in Tallahassee, Florida
Friday, June 26: Glover Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Warrenville, South Carolina
Tuesday, June 30: Mount Zion Ame Church Williamsburg County, South Carolina
Tuesday, July 1: Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greeleyville, South Carolina
From the beginnings of slavery to Jim Crow and even on to the civil rights movement, the burning of black churches in the south has been a preferred tool of white supremacists to strike terror in the black community by attacking their congregational core.
This purports to show the hierarchy of social responsibility with black civil liberties tacking on dead last. It further points to the consistent appeal from black law makers and civil rights advocates to the racism and inequality that that still exists for black American citizens within the U.S.
We must rise above social pressures and trends to give voice to the losses within the black community throughout the south and the country.
I believe the media diverted attention from the tragic shootings of the nine victims of the South Carolina to instead focused on the actions and life of the assassin and the debate of confederate symbols throughout the south.
What began as a call for security and equality in the black community was turned into a call to arms for a still divided nation in respect to symbols of racism and oppression. The real tragedy was forgotten as it quietly slipped into the background of the social conscious, a symbol of the continued apathy society holds toward the black community.
We must speak out and hold the media accountable for becoming a part of the problem.
Journalists used to report the truth as they saw it, unyielding to unrelenting pressures.
Where journalism once stood for social consciousness and integrity as the voice of the people, it has now become mute in response to black lives and their place in the social strata.
Author: A.N. Bayat
Editor: Alli Sarazen
Photo: Rabbits on Chairs/Flickr