This chapter presents some concluding thoughts. It suggests that in the end, the full story of the fires of the 1990s may never be told; but, if the fires lit the way toward a new understanding of community in the United States, then some good clearly came out of these terrible events. The fires showed that race still affected human relations in the 1990s in profound ways—regardless of whether the fires themselves indicated a racist conspiracy, or whether they were even actually racially inspired hate crimes. Just as the arson attacks laid bare a certain meanness in American society that imperiled the civic health of the United States, they also helped to create a new dialogue about race in the United States in the post-civil rights era, when many Americans were congratulating themselves for having overcome racism. If the fires backlit the sins of the past, they also illuminated the challenges to be faced in the new millennium.
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