The vandals who burned a black church and wrote 'Vote Trump' on it are not who we are.

This is not supposed to be happening.

Photo by Rogelio V. Solis/AP.

Last night, a fire broke out at Hopewell Missionary Baptist, a black church in Greenville, Mississippi. Police believe the blaze was ignited intentionally and are investigating it as a hate crime, according to CNN. Thankfully, no one was hurt.


The words "Vote Trump" were scrawled on the side of the building.

We still don't know who did it and, despite the message written on the church, what their motivations are. But we are better than this.

Photo by Rogelio V. Solis/AP.

Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church is the latest crime scene in a surge of arson attacks against black churches that began last year.  

"It happened in the '50s, it happened in the '60s, but we're in 2016 and that should not happen," Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons told CNN.

Here's what this kind of attack means for the people targeted.

Dozens of congregants are now afraid to attend their house of worship for fear of further attacks.

Their children now know what it means to be violently targeted because of their race.

A whole community is transported back to a time in the not too distant past when violence against their bodies and institutions was not only tolerated, but often encouraged.

Police are investigating whether the attack was an attempt to intimidate congregants and local residents and prevent them from voting.

Photo by Rogelio V. Solis/AP.

Voter intimidation attacks against black Americans are nothing new.

The fact that they are happening now is cause for serious alarm, especially when coupled with legal attempts to disenfranchise black and minority voters across several states. In heavily black Charlotte, North Carolina, state officials cut early voting locations from 22 in 2012 to 10 this year. In Guilford County, 16 early voting locations became just one.

Early turnout in that county, predictably, fell sharply as a result.

Attacking people's right to exercise their franchise — whether through legislation or a lit match — is an attack on our highest ideals.

Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images.

It was wrong then. It's wrong now.

The right to vote, like the right to worship freely and in peace, is sacrosanct in this country.

It's not a privilege. Not a suggestion. Not a nice thing to have.

For millions of Americans of color, it may be under attack, but it's still a right.

No amount of threats, intimidation, or violence should stop any American from exercising it.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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