Community Tampa Bay offers our sincerest condolences to the families of the 9 victims of the hate crime at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last night in South Carolina. We offer our thoughts, prayers and hopes for healing to the church community and the wider community of Charleston.

And even as we offer these condolences and prayers, we fear this terrible crime will devastate another community because as a society we continue to resist, let alone take action against, the mounting evidence that there is more discrimination and hate in our country today than we have seen in decades.

The incidence of hate crimes is up 500% since 2008, the year our first African-American president was elected.

In 2014, 117 unarmed black Americans were killed by police officers. This is more than double the number of African-Americans lynched annually in the Jim Crow era.

Black students, who make up just 15% of students nationwide, make up nearly half of all school suspensions, resulting in the systematic criminalization of our black youth.

These are not opinions. These are facts.

In the very places where they should feel most safe – their churches, their schools, their neighborhoods – black Americans’ very lives are threatened and, all too often extinguished, for no other reason than they are black.

We are falling woefully short of our promise as a nation to value all lives equally. And as we grieve the senseless deaths of those killed at Emanuel AME last night, I hope we will collectively decide that enough is enough.

Community Tampa Bay is ready with solutions. If you’re ready too, we want to hear from you.

Jennifer Russell
Executive Director
(813) 520-7218