of the cowardly terrorist attack on the Highland Research and
Education Center in New
Market, TN hit me like a punch in
the gut. A fire completely engulfed the administrative building which
housed priceless historic documents and artifacts leaving in its wake
unrecognizable charred remains. The racist symbol found at the scene
is the same one on the recovered gun used by the white shooter in the
New Zealand massacre.
decades, thousands have made their trek to the Highlander to build,
to plan, to rejuvenate--in the name of civil and human rights. I was
privileged to spend a week there last year as part of the Black
Feminist Organizing School. I have been there several times on the
years and always considered it to be hallowed ground.
Center’s co-executive directors, Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson and
Rev. Allyn Maxwell-Steel were shaken but resolute in their response.
has been a movement home for nearly 87 years and has weathered many
storms. This is no different.”
believe it is different. The U.S. has witnessed an explosion of
racist hate crimes. Propelling those numbers is the wanna-be fascist
in the White House. The donald has been unapologetic in his racist
and xenophobic rhetoric and actions.
to a recent report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism,
hate crime totals in the 10 largest cities are at an all-time high.
Since African Americans were the most targeted group, I’m
thinking we need to start thinking strategically and offensively in
modus operandi of these racist cowards throughout the years have been
sneak attacks or mob attacks. If it’s one or two Blacks or
Muslims, expect the show of force in actual numbers or the type of
artillery used. If it’s a group to be the object of racist
violence, you can expect stealth. Knowing this, can we really prepare
for such a looming domestic attack on local soil—like your
Black churches were destroyed in rural Louisiana over a 10-day period
which coincidentally started about the same time as the Highlander
fire. Like that fire, no one was physically injured but Black history
undeniably took a hit. All three churches were over 100 years old.
The white suspect, Holden Matthews, faces three counts of arson.
am not from the school that believes love neutralizes hate, or that
you pray for your enemies and everything will be alright. I wish it
was that simple. Black folks need to go on the offensive and I don’t
mean being hyper-vigilant 24/7. That’s the kind of stress
that’ll kill you.
mean being better organized at public events and knowing who’s
coming and going. I mean challenging white folks to check their own.
These mass shooters and white supremacist activists belong to
families and to communities. We must lobby to make hate crimes carry
stiffer penalties. We must advocate for more and effective mental
and certainly not least, I’m talking about dethroning the
imperial wizard—uh, I mean president—in 2020. He’s
done enough damage on multiple levels, but trump’s racist
vitriol is truly Making American Unsafe Again for Black folks.