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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Emanuel AME: Is There No Sanctuary?

Pictures and names of the Charleston 9: Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lance, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Myra Thompson, Susie Jackson. "We are one."The church was supposed to be safe. It was supposed to be a refuge. It was supposed to be hallowed ground. Not only for them as Christians, but as members of a Black community that for centuries has turned to the church as one of the few true sanctuaries of Blackness, of autonomy, of influence.

That Emanuel AME was so violently invaded should shame white Christians to the core. It should make us quake before our God and hide our faces. It should call us to repentance, and then call us to action.

Because Dylann Roof's was not an isolated attack. He is not a lone wolf. He is not an outlier. On the contrary, he developed under the careful guidance of a racist society. He stands on the shoulders of centuries of white supremacy. He inherits the legacy of the police dogs, the forced labor chain gains, the redlining, and the lynch mobs. He is the well-crafted result of Stand Your Ground, of stop-and-frisk, of the War on Drugs, of the War on Terror, of New Jim Crow, and of daily public-sanctioned police brutality.

He is the product of every colorblind upbringing, every hushed slur, every clutched purse, every thinly-veiled prejudice, every microaggression.  He is the result of a society--of a Church--whose repeated silence (indeed affirmation!) in the face of such things suggested to him that his beliefs and actions are not only acceptable, but logical and laudable.

Roof becomes a part of a long tradition of white domestic terrorism against people of color in the United States. From the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church, to the shooting at Oak Creek Sikh Temple, and so many in between. There have been ongoing attacks on mosques across the country for decades. Emanuel AME itself has been the repeated target of violence from white perpetrators. It is like the scores of other Black churches have been targeted across the United States, in a practice of hate not at all confined to bygone eras.

Each incident is a mark of deep shame and condemnation that is white Christianity's to bear. It's our legacy, our history. The sins of a nation remain unrepented and unrepaired. And we now bear the fruits of our inaction. There is no sanctuary.

"Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 

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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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