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Friday, December 14, 2007

The Noose…And It’s Role In Lynching Black Americans

Hermene Hartman the Publisher of the magapaper for the urbane, N'Digo has an editorial about the history of the noose and lynching. Better catch up to it quick because after the next week or so, you're not going to see it again. It's pretty good too. I'll offer some excerpts...
One of the focal points of the entire Jena 6 episode was the appearance of nooses hanging from the tree under which several Black students had sat the previous day. Eventually, the tree was cut down.

Shortly after Jena 6 garnered international outrage, a noose appeared on the door of a college professor at Columbia College in New York City. It, too, provoked a strong reaction.

There’s no escaping the symbolism of the noose.

The right-now generation may not know all the details, but from the hip-hoppers to the be-boppers, lynching –– by the noose, or any other means –– is known to be a part of the nightmare of being Black in America.
The what, where, why and some stats...
A part of the Black Holocaust, lynchings were/(still are?) used by White Americans to control, threaten, and abuse African Americans. These terrorist acts occurred during and after slavery all over the United States, but mostly in the Southern Black Belt states of Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana.

A lynching is the illegal execution of an accused person or people by a mob, and the term is probably derived from the name of Charles Lynch, who led a rifle regiment during the Revolutionary War, and afterward, purportedly had his troops execute marauders and murderers in the new country without benefit of a trial.

Though lynchings occurred regularly until the mid-1950s, the Tuskegee Institute estimates that 3,118 Black Americans were lynched between the 40 years from 1882 and 1922, with at least 50 of them being Black women. It is difficult to even come close to knowing the exact number of lynchings that occurred however, because, obviously, not all incidents were reported.

Lynched victims were hanged (by a noose), burned, mutilated, tortured, shot, even hacked to death. A noose was placed around the neck and the victim hanged from a tree, sometimes after the torture.

Never Again.
At times, lynching was perceived as entertainment, having a certain theatrical flair, as the events were produced and advertised as a festive occasion –– “Come see the killing of the nigger!”

Sometimes after church on Sundays, White citizens came with their picnic baskets –– and their children –– to the event, a family outing for White people to watch Black people terrified and killed.

With the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1880s, the number of lynchings ratcheted up dramatically. The Klan wore white garments and their heads were covered as they protected their purity. Between 1880 and 1920, an average of two African Americans were lynched each week in these United States.
The primary victims of lynching, Black men, mostly were lynched for just about any reason –– from minor crimes to major crimes, to no crimes at all. It was just a common form of punishment.

Lynching could result from insulting a White person, suing a White person, making threats, trying to vote, unruly remarks, entering a White woman’s room, using obscene language, voting for the wrong party, stealing, burglary, child abuse, testifying against a White person, living with or having sex with a White woman, demanding respect, resisting a mob, robbery, informing, gambling, or just simply being obnoxious. You could be lynched simply by accusation, with no proof and no trial.
Here's another thing worth noting when talking about this shameful occurance...
In 1937, Abel Meeropol, a Jewish teacher in New York, saw a photograph of a lynching and found the photographs so disturbing that he wrote a poem called Strange Fruit. He saw Billie Holiday perform in New York and presented her with the poem.

Billie liked it and turned it into a song of the same name, which Time magazine called a “prime piece of musical propaganda.” But the Chicago Triune, on January 1 of each year, began publishing a record of all the lynchings that had taken place in the previous year.

National attention was re-focused on lynching in 2000 with the publication of the book Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography and Postcards in America. The book featured 98 lynching photographs from a collection of 130 such pictures that White Florida antiques dealer James Allen and his partner John Littlefield amassed over 15 years.

The book was a best-seller, and 60 of the photos were put together as a traveling photo exhibition to museums across the country. The exhibit was so popular that even Stevie Wonder wanted to “see” it, according to the book Imagery of Lynching: Black Men, White Women, and the Mob, by Dora Apel.

Apel writes that Stevie was given a private tour and description of the pictures by James Allen himself, and when Stevie asked Allen why he collected the photos, Allen replied that, among other reasons, “I am a gay man and the discrimination I’ve known in my life has been from White males. I’m just angry and this is a way to express my anger.”

Allen added that he got the pictures not only from dealers, but “KKK members, the trunk of a prominent Savannah family, and from people where the photographs were kept in albums alongside vacation pictures.”

So, yes, there is a long abusive history with the noose during the Black Holocaust, and Black people today react to the noose imagery with a sense of injustice and indignation.
According to Hartmann hate crimes rose by 8% last year. And she doesn't want to forget and wants to say never again. Almost like a Holocaust victim from Germany. Hopefully we can let people know that displaying the noose is absolutely no joke and directing it at someone who might take a different meaning to it than they would is most certainly a bad idea.

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