What obligations does the Richmond community face after the arrests last week of two suspected violent white supremacists in Chesterfield County, just south of Richmond?
That’s what students and faculty at Common Ground’s weekly multi-faith forum talked about on Tuesday night. Under the vaulted ceilings of the Cannon Chapel, they discussed the effects the FBI’s arrest of two men plotting to bomb black churches and synagogues in this area has had on the community.
“What I like about these talks is that we get to know people who offer a different point of view,” said Rizwan Mujeebuddin, the muslim life program coordinator for the chaplaincy.
Students representing the groups targeted by the Chesterfield white supremacists talked about the paranoia and uncertainty that creeps into their communities every time something like this happens. Black and Jewish students, some from the Richmond area, eagerly shared their concerns with fellow students.
The safety of black congregations in America jumped back into the national spotlight this June after nine people were killed by a white supremacist during a prayer meeting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.
According to The Huffington Post, seven black churches have been attacked since 2000, with three coming in the month immediately following the events of last summer in Charleston.
“It’s hard to get over the perceptions we’ve been taught,” said Emily Cobb, director of multi-faith initiatives. “It’s important to be able to recognize what you have been taught so that you can change it.”
Common Ground focuses on diversity, inclusion and social justice at Richmond and hosts forums every Tuesday in the Chaplaincy. This Tuesday’s meeting was moved to the chapel and featured pizza to accommodate the large number of students interested in discussing this local event.
“I think it is a very important issue,” Mujeebuddin said. “In that we don’t think about religious extremism broadly enough.”
Contact reporter William Shelton at email@example.com
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