Just last week an editorial appeared in a local Fairfield newspaper with the headline, “Where is it safe to live while being black?” The writer, the Reverend Frederick J. Sheets, was identified as the former chaplain of Yale University and the current pastor of the historic Dixwell Congregational Church of Christ in nearby New Haven, Connecticut.
Pastor Sheets wrote in response to the shooting of nine black participants in a bible study class by an avowed white racist in Charleston, South Carolina. He wrote, “The murders in Charleston are a reminder that black people everywhere are threatened by those who hate them.” On reading these words I could not help but feel that the pastor was overreacting to the event in Charleston, itself a city with a crime and murder rate well below the national average.
Over the following weekend I saw a few random illustrations of black people living in apparent peace and tranquility. A picture in the paper showed a young black woman obviously enjoying herself at a July 4 fireworks show at a beach in Fairfield surrounded by a crowd of white people. She apparently felt safe there.
At Wimbledon’s tennis tournament Serena and Venus Williams, two black females, were mowing down the opposition in front of a peaceful, largely white crowd. Ok, that’s England. But every year when the two sisters play at Forest Hills in New York, they only have to fear the umpire’s calls. In fact, their family is always noticeably in attendance in the box seats again surrounded by a mass of white spectators. I suspect that the family has also found a safe place to live in America.
The Reverend Sheets failed to point out that the most dangerous place for blacks to live in America is in black communities. In Connecticut blacks have more to fear in the pastor’s home city of New Haven, or in other black sections of cities like Bridgeport and Hartford. None of these towns comes close to matching the murder rate of blacks upon blacks in large cities like Chicago.
Within a week of the pastor’s editorial came the tragic news of a murder on a subway train in Washington, D.C. Jasper Spires, an eighteen year old black man, has been arrested for the brutal knifing of a young white man in broad daylight in front of a number of subway riders. I say brutal because the man was beaten, kicked, and stabbed at least 30 times by his assailant.
The victim was a former resident of Connecticut and his death has been making headlines here. If he had not been from Connecticut, I suppose his death would have gone unnoticed here since so many young men are murdered in our cities. Incredibly, the assailant had been released from police custody only the day before even though he had been charged with another assault. The judge reduced that charge and let him go scot-free.
I wonder if the pastor would call this a “hate” crime or accuse the assailant of “racism.” There were other subway riders. Why single out the white man? Why stab him so many times? Why, after robbing some other passengers, come back to kick the man bleeding to death on the floor? Is there such a thing as black racism? Is it even possible to discuss the possibility?