“Notre Dame burning is unfortunate and sad but not a tragedy for me. My emotional connection is to human suffering, painful oppression, and loss connected to the fuel of hatred and indecency. While you cry and feel deeply watching this sacred space in flames, my eyes refuse to water. Church burnings and terrorism of sacred spaces are as American as Peach Cobbler. How can I shed a tear when mosques and black churches are burned to the ground without a peep from our citizens, national leaders and little to no media coverage? How can I weep when humans are suffering around the world and our citizens remain without clean water? I’m sorry I simply cannot share in your grief today. I could pretend, but I won’t”
This is a message that I shared with social media and the feedback was indeed, perplexing.
I do not feel I should have to play semantics or explain why something does not have emotional connection for me, but I get it.
In America, Black people have been forced to care about your sad stories and support you in your grievances. We are continuously a pillar for white tragedy yet are met with very little acknowledgment or concern for our own.
We have a President and political administration that conveniently ignores and dismisses black churches burning at the hands of a sheriff’s son a week ago. A white supremacist to be exact and not one word uttered. This was arson and a hate crime.
In my home state of Tennessee a GOP member asked for a moment of silence in the name of Notre Dame and Christianity, yet state leaders were hush mouth when a part of the beloved Highlander Center was in flames. They seemed not to worry about the white power symbol found at the scene.
As minorities we are attacked for not feeling connected to a historical church burning in France. And at the same time ignored when our own tragedy occurs and told to get over 400 years of our people in chains.
We see you.
Whenever September 11th rolls around we watch how you get up in arms and in your feelings. We see how you react to Holocaust victims. We notice the way you grieve when some European country is attacked. We take note of how deeply you respond when animals are harmed. All of this is rightfully so. In fact, we understand it. We stand with you.
But where is your outrage and concern for the black children being lead poisoned in Flint and all across this country because the greatest nation in the world can’t provide clean water to the less privileged?
Where is your concern when unarmed Black men are being gunned down in cold blood and taken from their families right before your eyes?
Where are your memorial acknowledgements for the 4 million plus African Americans who built this country on their backs while in chattel slavery?
Why aren’t you offended when the people and places in Africa are regularly attacked?
What about the burning and targeting of mosques on your own soil?
Where is your understanding and empathy for us?
Let’s face it. Black skin, black children, black tragedy, black countries are not in regard.
You can say you care all day for our plight and oppression, however your voices are mostly silent and your outrage is little to nowhere to be found when we need it the most.
As Black Americans we are constantly being told what we should do and what we should care about and it’s mostly to make white people feel satisfied. We have lost everything to colonialism and colonization and many of you still insist on historical amnesia. You erase the pain of the oppressed and marginalized at every turn.
So feel free to mourn however you wish about Notre Dame burning and whatever your heart desires. But just remember, that when black and brown persecution occurs every single day we don’t hear you. It doesn’t provoke the same sentiment and concern. You have selective grief.
We have spent our lives pledging allegiance to everything you hold dear. Too many Americans have not done the same for us. So if we do not share in your pain today, understand it.
Angela Dennis is a Freelance Writer residing in Knoxville, TN. She can be reached on Facebook at Facebook.com/AngelaDennisWrites