AP Photo/Gerald Herbert


notre dame fire sets western propaganda machine ablaze

April 18, 2019
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Between March 25th and April 6th, three historically Black churches in Louisiana were set ablaze by 21-year-old white supremacist Holden Matthews, according to The New York Times. Matthews is the son of a Louisiana Sheriff’s deputy Roy Matthews so we can just assume he was radicalized at home. The blaze set at the three churches garnered a trickle of media attention, which is usually the case with a media bent on rehabilitating white nationalists. These historically Black churches only garnered widespread media attention when the roof of Notre Dame went up in flames, according to Blavity. The worldwide outpouring of devastation was overwhelming, even for an 856-year-old church.


Three of France’s richest families are spearheading the fundraising for the church, drawing in $1 billion in just over 24 hours. It is mindblowing what billionaires will band together to save, especially in the wake of a hurricane that just ravaged Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, displacing 1,2 million people, half of which are children, or a host of other pressing issues being fought the world over. From the white supremacist burning Black churches to the blanket media coverage of a burning Catholic monument, we are faced with the deliberate ways in which white supremacy uses colonial propaganda to diminish and underplay the harm done to Black and brown people while prioritizing space and time for Western tragedies. What it is implying, in this sense, is that the destruction of Western art, culture is more important than Black and Brown monuments or lives.

We get a taste of it every time people place Western flags in their profile pictures after a tragedy while paying no mind to tragedies that take place below the equator and further East. The effects of Western-controlled media in real-time. On top of the tragedy that is de-prioritization of Black and Brown trauma, the lack of coverage has set a dangerous precedent in motion. White terrorism has ravaged the world for decades and the recent public acknowledgment of its existence can only be attributed to even the most powerful media corporations not being able to control information like they could before. Lord knows they’re trying their hardest.

The internet revolutionized the size and scope of activism but it has also provided the perfect environment for radicalization. When the media paints every white supremacist as some mind-blowing hybrid of a lone wolf/lost lamb, dedicating hours of forced nuance to the monster instead of his Black and Brown victims. It was the massacre at the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand where white supremacy was given a global audience and widespread damnation. This damnation was invited by a woman who happens to be white, Jacinda Ardern — the Prime Minister of New Zealand. In a press conference, Ardern did what white media often fails to do — she made the tragedy about the victims. She refused to utter the name of the white supremacist and thus removed the glory that would only further embolden the other white supremacist trolls lurking in the shadows of the internet. Finally, the shame, horror and terror attached to white supremacist violence could have its full attention so the world could figure a way to address it, head on.

It’s ironic that the hyper-focus on the Notre Dame fire would inspire people to pay attention to the fire in the three Black churches but the beauty lies in the direct action of activists who used that hyper-focus to highlight the lack of focus on victims of white supremacy instead of monuments of it — the church is a colonizer too, beloved. Thanks to the genius working within Black activism right now, a GoFundMe for the repair of the churches has raised over $1.9 million, surpassing its $1.8 million goal.

The simplest way to describe the epistemological racism attached to the prioritization of Western stories is: out of sight, out of mind. You can only care about what you know about and knowing can do a lot of good. Click the Go Fund Me link and read the comments to see just how much.