Racism is still, unfortunately, thriving across the nation. Community members who frequently visit the African Meeting House for cultural events in Nantucket, Massachusetts found racist graffiti sprawled across the decades-old building over the weekend.
“Take a good look. This isn’t some far off place — this is racist terror in my district,” wrote Massachusetts State Senator Julian Cyr in a Facebook post on Sunday. “Nantucket woke up this morning to its African Meeting House attacked in the most vile and heinous of ways.”
The Nantucket Police Department is investigating the vandalism, which occurred sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning, Nantucket’s The Inquirer and Mirror reported.
Nantucket, an island near Cape Cod with less than 8,000 current residents, is predominantly White, but has a much smaller African-American community of approximately 560 people.
The African Meeting House, built in 1827, is a public structure on the island which was central to the history of the African community of the 18th and 19th centuries, according to the Museum of African American History in Boston and Nantucket. Black residents consider the Meeting House to be an important cultural center, but now, its status as a safe space has been questioned with the recent hateful vandalism.
“I broke down, I was hysterical,” African Meeting House manager Charity-Grace Mofsen told The Inquirer and Mirror, about seeing the words “N—-r Leave” and a phallic symbol spray-painted on the front of the building, which is now owned by the Museum of African American History in Boston. “I cried.”
More than a dozen community members scrubbed and sanded away the hateful message on Sunday morning. Whites, Blacks and Indigenous people have lived together on the island for decades, Mofsen said, painting a picture of racial harmony. The Nantucket Police Department has praised this “diversity.” But this recent incident revealed a different reality, one that shows that racism and segregation is not dead here.
“Whatever hate they have, whatever it’s based in, there is no place for it here,” Mofsen said. “In order to survive on this island 30 miles out to sea, we have to work together. ”