In today’s society, many of us still have a tendency to sweep social issues under the rug and deny their existence. However, I find it hard to stay silent after examining the facts surrounding the burning of the three black churches alongside the ones surrounding the burning of the Notre-Dame cathedral.
Most likely you heard about the fire that ravaged Notre-Dame in Paris April 15. If you missed it on the news, where it was widely publicized, then there’s a good chance you saw it in the mournful posts on all social media platforms. Now, how about the three historical black churches that were burned down in suspected hate crimes in Louisiana? Did you hear about those? Probably not. Why do you think that is?
The three black churches were the St. Mary Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church and Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, all located in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. The St. Mary Baptist Church was the first to go up in flames March 26, and by the end it was reduced to a few walls and piles of rubble. Next to go down was the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas April 2, and then the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church two days later.
Three historical black churches were engorged by flames within the span of ten days and yet so few of us knew about it. A few days later, however, an ancient European cathedral suffered a similar fate, only the fire that destroyed it wasn’t deliberately set. It still became a trending topic that sparked an endless bound of sympathy and mourning. I wholeheartedly believe that these string of events say a lot about our society and its tendency to overlook the marginalized and the injustices they face.
This isn’t to say that the Notre-Dame didn’t deserve our sympathy — it certainly did and what happened to it was tragic — but don’t those black churches deserve our sympathy as well?
To be fair, the burning of the three black churches didn’t go completely unnoticed, but they warranted very little public commiseration and aid in comparison to Notre-Dame. By April 14, the churches had only managed to raise $50,000 through a Gofundme campaign, which was meant to be split among them equally. Notre-Dame, on the other hand, almost instantaneously started to receive an outpour of donations and, within the span of a mere two days, raised $1 billion dollars.
People started pointing out the blind eye that the majority of the public had turned on the black churches in contrast to the fixation they had on Notre-Dame, just as I’m doing, and this is what it took to get the public’s attention. Now these black churches have raised over $2 million dollars in funds, according to WAFB.
In our society, far too many minorities face social injustices that are overlooked or simply disregarded. This certainly wasn’t the first case where something like this patently happened and it most likely won’t be the last. We can’t sweep things like this under the rug, we have to keep speaking out just as people did in this instance because if we don’t we’ll never invoke any change.