It's a natural reaction to assume fires at black churches are borne of hatred, experts say
Humans gravitate toward causes that provide them scapegoats, professor says
Ohio and California church fires did not garner same level of media coverage
It’s a visceral and involuntary reaction, perhaps even knee-jerk: A black church burns in the South and our minds race immediately to hatred.
It must be arson. It must be the handiwork of some despicable white supremacist.
That was the sentiment on display across social and traditional media these past two weeks. The NAACP, while acknowledging only three of the recent fires were suspected arsons, called for vigilance, saying the blazes require “our collective attention.”
“For centuries, African-American churches have served as the epicenter of survival for many in the African-American community. As a consequence, these houses of faith have historically been the targets of violence. We will use every tool in our advocacy arsenal to preserve these beloved institutions,” Cornell William Brooks, the group’s president, said in a statement.
Brooks also cited the recent church massacre in South Carolina.
On June 17, Dylann Roof allegedly killed nine members of Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Four days later, black churches began burning across the South. To date, seven in five states have caught fire.