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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Someone is burning black churches in St. Louis, if anyone cares

From The Idiot Factor:

  As the reports of "another church set on fire" came streaming in, one day after another, on the local news, the thought came to me, "are they black churches?" Naively, I assumed that if these were black congregations being targeted for arson, the local news would mention that and look into the very possible racial motive. Could this be that "war on Christians" conservatives keep warning us about? Then I started hearing from local activists. These were black churches being targeted (six have been burned in a span of ten days). While the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has mentioned that the targeted churches are predominantly black, the local TV news programs have been positively "color blind", simply choosing to omit this very relevant fact. 

     Welcome to post-Michael Brown St. Louis, a city desperately trying to pretend that the racial animosity that was exposed by last year's protests and riots has evaporated into the past; a city in denial. 

      Most white people here are convinced that last year's unrest was "much ado about nothing". While they are quick to point out that the Department of Justice report on Ferguson cleared officer Darren Wilson of criminal wrongdoing, they ignore the rest of the report. The DOJ report also found a pattern of racial profiling, false arrests and excessive force by Ferguson police, along with a municipal court system that seemed to be designed to extract money out of Ferguson's poor and minority residents. This confirms what so many black residents in Ferguson, and the St. Louis region, had been saying for years. The unrest wasn't just about one black man being shot by the police, it was the result of decades of systemic racism and neglect. 

     One year later, not much has changed. Some police departments are looking into buying body cameras, and the state put new limits on how much revenue municipalities can collect through traffic citations and fines, but that's about it. Now that the protests have died down, there appears to be no sense of urgency to deal with the underlying problems that led to the unrest in the first place. 

     Some local TV stations think the answer to our problems are fluff pieces and positive sounding slogans, such as KSDK Channel 5's "STL Together". On the surface, these are attempts to rally the region to come together after a long and draining period of protests and riots. Too often, the slogans, and the accompanying feel good stories, seem like an attempt to slap a happy face on the ugly reality of St. Louis' racial division. Let's all have a group hug and pretend everything is OK now.

     We have a crime wave to worry about now, and the Cardinals' poor performance in the playoffs, not to mention the Rams might be moving to Los Angeles. Oh, and someone is torching black churches, and although we know that white racists in America have a long history of targeting black communities in this way, let's not bring race into the discussion. Hush now! "STL together". 

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