COMMUNITY EMBRACES CHURCH TARGETED WITH RACIST LETTER
BY CASH MICHAELS OF THE WILMINGTON JOURNAL
[WILMINGTON] They came to Speaks Temple AME Zion Church to show concern and support.
They left with a message that they needed to do more to love.
The pews were filled Sunday at the predominately Black Speaks Temple, with many White people attending, outraged by the angry racist letter sent to the church and its Pastor Diedre Parker, a week earlier.
They wanted to show that the unnamed racist who sent the inflammatory missive that talked about “porch monkeys…big lipped ape men…and blue gummed people [with illegitimate children everywhere]…” as being “Niggertown, of course…” did not represent how they thought or their respect for the Black community.
In fact, at least two White couples brought their Black adopted toddlers as a symbol of their willingness to stand up to racism for them.
“Lord…the one who sent this…let’s call it what it is…a hate letter…,
prayed Ken Sharpe, a visiting White minister, “… Father God, we don’t condone what this person did at all. We’re not a part of that, but we also just lift him up in prayer to you as well…that he would come to know the right from the wrong and that hatred is not you. You are love.”
As much as Pastor Dierdre Parker said she intended to conduct a worship service, even she couldn’t ignore the outpouring of support, the new faces in the church, and the opportunity to use the ugly incident as a way to teach that racism is wrong, and God’s children need to come together to combat it.
“We are here, Father, to let a hateful world know that there is love, and love exists, and love is action….Pastor Parker prayed passionately, as the congregation clapped and said ‘Amen.”
“I thank you [Father] for those who don’t look like me and those who don’t believe like me, but thought enough of me to show up today!”
During her sermon, Pastor Parker was blunt, asking rhetorically that if it weren’t for the hate-filled racist letter, “…would we all be worshipping together right now?”
She then gave a social justice lesson to her White visitors, chiding the church overall for mostly staying silent in the face of rampant racism; criticizing those who call African-Americans “racebaiters” if they openly complain about unfair and unjust treatment at the hands of Whites; and that even though she was deeply appreciative of the many who attended service to support Speaks Temple Sunday, “ this is not a moment but a movement.”
“You can’t go home to your everyday life thinking that you ended racism just because you went to a Black church one Sunday…,” she declared, later adding, “So where’s the love? We have only been giving lip service to love, for love is action!”
Parker urged that whites adopt the same policy that government officials have suggested when you see something suspicious you know is inherently wrong – “When you see something, say something.” In other words, if you see racism, challenge it, either right on the spot, or later when it counts.
Rev. Parker said black people face being forced to live by a different set of rules every day, because there are whites who openly dispute the fact that racism does exist.
“It’s time for us to stop being so afraid to have the hard conversation,” Parker continued, noting that Blacks and Whites are fearful of having a frank discussion about race. “If we don’t have these conversations, they will always be hard.”
Parker concluded her sermon on race by saying,” When we get so cool…that I can come to your house and go into your refrigerator, and you can come to my house and go into [mine], then…that’s when things will change!”
Meanwhile the Wilmington Police Department had a patrol car parked across the street to monitor the church for safety. They say they still have no idea who sent the racist unsigned hate letter a week ago, postmarked from Charlotte.