Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Now that's enough ...

... it's time for all school aged and college aged racists to go home, regroup and come up with another form of intimidation, other than a noose, that will give them all the credit they are so desperately seeking.
Since the Jena, La., story has hit national news, I have counted seven incidents involving nooses, one of which was the situation at Alma J. Brown Elementary School on Grambling State University's campus.
Most recently, a noose was found on the office door of an African American professor at Columbia University. A noose was also found in the sea bag of an African American cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., in July and another was found in the office of a white civil rights instructor during race relations training in August.
That's just the tip of the ice burg. Nooses were found on the campuses of the University of Maryland and Andrews High School in High Point, N.C. Police also arrested two suspects in Alexandria, La., after the Jena Six rally for inciting violence after they rode around with two nooses tied to a pick-up truck.
Now that incident was wrong on so many different levels. Not only were the nooses being dragged by self-proclaimed White Supremacists but the incident kind of brought back the not-so-fond memories of the James Byrd Jr., murder in Jasper, Texas.
A noose wasn't used to drag him behind the pick up truck but I am willing to bet that it has been done before.
Upon preparing for this post, I did a Google search of the word "noose," then I searched the word plus (+) "2007" and some of the stuff that I saw should have been surprising, but it wasn't. I saw everything from recent stories to noose hanging incidents to the message boards where people were asking why the image of a noose hanging from a tree was so powerful.
Because I believe there is power in knowledge and I never like to pass up a teaching opportunity, allow me to illustrate.

Now that you see that not so long ago, Southern trees bore strange fruit, I hope you can understand why seeing nooses hanging on trees can send chills, shock waves and anger through the bodies of African Americans/Blacks/Coloreds/Negroes everywhere.
It's not so much that people have been hanging nooses in several locales throughout the country, it's that some of my counterparts in the media act as if it just started last year with the incident in Jena.
In all actuality, lynching dates back to slavery when some of our ancestors attempted to run and free themselves from the physical and mental bondage inflicted on them by their masters and the rest of society.
As far as I'm concerned, the hanging of a noose carries the same weight of a cross burning on some one's lawn. It's all about hate, nothing more, nothing less. It is the sheer hate of people of color, particularly black people, for no reason.
When someone hangs a noose, it not only symbolizes hate, it is also meant to intimidate and it sends the clear message that people of color are not wanted there. The sad thing about this situation is nooses are being hanged in places where they will be found and in places we shouldn't have to avoid like schools, our homes and in some cases our workplaces.
The only thing that kind of irks me about the situation is nobody is owning up to it. I guess Paul Lawrence Dunbar said it best, "We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes ..."
I say we all take off our masks and be true to ourselves, our God and everyone else. In other words, if you are going to be a racist, show yourself. No sense in hiding from the world. I say if you hate me, hate me for all to see, not just behind closed doors.


Anonymous said...

A few years ago, a revival of interest in the music of Billie Holiday and her song, “Strange Fruit," generated articles that drew attention to the “lynch law” era that predated the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s, but these articles appeared mostly in scholarly journals, which most American don’t read. Copycat noose-hangings are now occurring across the country because few Americans associated nooses with racist sentiments until the Jena High School incident created national headlines.

Nooses can be racist or not, depending on the context. The hangman noose has been a symbol of dread and foreboding since the middle ages. It's the card you don't want to draw from a pack of Tarot cards. Hangman nooses have been incorporated into Halloween displays for decades. (Halloween Magazine even post instructions for tying nooses on its website at A few years ago, a woman committed suicide by hanging herself from a tree in her front yard. Unfortunately, she chose Halloween eve to end her life. Her body dangled for days in full view of passerbys who thought it was part of the Halloween decorations. Today, she would be cut down and charged with a hate crime.

Are we to ban such classic western movies as Lonesome Dove, The Hanging Tree, and The Oxbow Incident simply because nooses play an important role in them. The hunt for nooses is turning into a witch hunt with often ludicrous results. The U.S. Army announced yesterday that it had ended its investigation into a noose-hanging incident at Anniston Army Depot. The "noose" turned out to have been a tie-day that had fallen from a truck delivering supplies to the depot.

The three Jena High School students who hung the nooses claim they did not realize that nooses have racist connotations. They claim they were merely replicating the famous lynching scene from Lonesome Dove, in which Texas Rangers string up with outlaws. This claim has been ridiculed by just about everyone, except those who actually investigated the incident. According to the Jena Times, state Welfare Supervisor Melinda Edwards said it might surprise everyone to learn that the three students did not have knowledge of black history in relation to that hanging of black citizens in the south during the civil rights movement.

“We discussed this in great detail with those students,” Edwards said. “They honestly had no knowledge of the history concerning nooses and black citizens. This may seem hard to believe for some people, but this is exactly what everyone on the committee determined.”

She also said that once the historical significance of the nooses was revealed to the students and how it was considered a tremendous insult to those of the black race, they showed great remorse. “When they were told about the historical relevance of the nooses and how others would interpret their actions, they really were very remorseful,” she said. “I can honestly say that these boys regretted tremendously ever hanging those nooses.”

Smarty Jones said...

I see your point, but I have a hard time believing that the nooses that were hanged in Jena were any sort of "prank" that had its roots in any Wild West theme.
Call me crazy, but in a town that seems to be split racially, an incident like this one doesn't seem like it wouldn't be racially motivated.
Quite frankly, I'm over the Jena noose incident. I'm more concerned about the two-faced justice system down there.
I'm even more concerned with nooses sprouting up throughout the country. In fact, there have been so many more incidents that Diversity Inc now has a graphic with a national noose count.
Generally, I don't like to be too personal in this medium, but speaking as a person who has seen a noose first-hand, I can only talk about how the noose made me feel.
A few years back at my first internship, I saw a noose hanging on a poll outside the office where I was employed.
I can not say for sure that the noose was directed toward me, but I can say that when I saw it, it sent chills up and down my spine.
I was the only person of color working in that office and the county was about 10 percent minority. I don't want this to be a color issue but when you are the only person who looks like you, it is very easy to feel alienated and to be uneasy about everything you do.
And, what person living in the racist environment that is the American South looks at a noose and does not automatically know that it carries a negative racial connotation?
I don't buy it.