Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nooses and the Silent Truth

This morning I was shaken awake by the thought of nooses (that and something that sounded like a Transformers battle outside of my window). Unless you've been under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you know that nooses have been making appearances all around, particularly college campuses. The most recent documented incident was at Columbia's Teacher's College but others have been recently been placed at the University of Maryland and now infamously in Jena, Louisiana. Taken together, the same strand runs throughout these incidents: cowardice.

Each time I hear about a noose hanging I become concerned, but at the same time perversely aware. As Ida B. Wells said, "Our country's national crime is lynching. It is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mob." While these incidents may be isolated in the forensic sense they are bound in the sociological sense by their support of a White supremacist ideology. A noose is not a joke, a noose is not a prank, a noose is a symbol of violence and threat. The hangings of nooses should rouse not just our consciousness, but also raise a sick sense of delight ... now hear me out. We have to go back to see where I'm coming from.

The noose's use has not simply been limited to racial violence (please save the asinine argument about nooses being used in the Wild West for some other blog), but for most contemporary Americans, its use is deeply tied to this country's history of lynching.

*Aside- the term lynching comes from Charles Lynch of Chestnut Hill, Va, not Willie Lynch of the mythical "The Making of a Slave"*

Lynching, as documented by many researchers, was a group act of cowardice. While most the assailants in many lynchings were known, the crimes conspicuously occurred at the hands of persons unknown. Lynchings occurred in public but were treated like private affairs when it came to the formal distribution of justice (hmmm, guess young Black America isn't the first folks with a 'stop snitching' campaign). For me, it's most important that we realize racial lynchings really took hold of America when Whites, particularly Southern Whites, were losing power. The prospects of Black progress were/are so dangerous the last resort is violence or insinuation of violence. It's truly the last resort of a dispossessed people. As scholars like Cornel West and others have pointed out, these crimes were some of the earliest and truest forms of terrorism we have seen on American soil.

In 2007, as my Black brothers and sisters challenge the status quo in Jena, continue to press through institutions of higher education despite the death of Affirmative Action in Maryland, and offer nuanced critiques and advice about the pernicious and viral effects of racism at Columbia ... the old guard is getting nervous. After centuries of dedicated attempts to segregate, oppress, and dehumanize, we as a people continue to struggle towards equality, humanity, and our highest selves ... damn right they're nervous.

Now if you know anything about me, then you know I don't look at the world through rose colored glasses, but I think this silent truth that White supremacists are getting nervous should continue to motivate us to push and continue to break down the infrastructure of White supremacy. As we stand up for the rights of the Jena Six, the students in Marlyland, the professors at Columbia do not lose sight of the larger project. There is much work still to be done in our community, so please protest the nooses, challenge hate, and continue to strengthen our community and children. My personal domain is education. Each day Black and Brown children are lynched by inadequate schools, hollowed homes, and a world that tells them 'no' when all they really need to hear is 'yes'. I'll leave you with the words of another ancestor, Carter G. Woodson, regarding the education of Black folks, though I cannot say I am in complete agreement, I definitely see his point. "This crusade [proper education of Blacks] is much more important than the anti- lynching movement, because there would be no lynching if it did not start in the schoolroom."

1 comment:

Lumas said...

I especially like Carter G. Woodson's statement. Education is the tool of ultimate power for all peoples and beings for that matter. And history is the most crucial subject in education. There is something forgotten when a school administrator in Jena claims that students hanging nooses in a race related incident is a harmless prank. There is something forgotten when schools are just as segregated today than they were before Brown vs. The Board of Education. Or...maybe...nothing was forgotten. Maybe something was remembered. Maybe those who lack a true sense of humanity remembered that they are racist. They remembered that they are selfish. They remembered that they believe that People of African Descent are not human, are not people at all.

It seems that while the proponents of White Supremacy are demonstrating their undying commitment to dehumanizing a people, the rest of us may have forgotten that the agenda of White Supremacy has not changed, just the strategies. Only now that we see remnants of old strategies do we have people waking up to find out that racism is not dead, discrimination is not dead. Now of course many scholars, and others who have paid attention, see that it has never left; while some argue that it never will. But many of our children, black, white, and all in between, esp. those who grow up in very segregated communities are hoodwinked into thinking we are at a distinct and qualitatively different era than before. While the US may look different in some respects, even a superficial analysis of present inequities in favor of whites reveals that the essence of American degradation and exploitation of non-white groups (home and abroad) remains status quo. An essence that many US citizens have worked to change. While many of us know, through an examination of history, that this promotion of hatred has been deemed unacceptable, racism and discrimination have become common place to our children. Common like water to a fish. It is our air that smells so sweet. It is our smog that makes us wonder how people even talk about clean air. Air is air. Smog doesn't smell like anything, air just smells like air. The result is some of our children lack the proper lens to view these atrocities and so become those that are complacent or oblivious to the implications of such acts. The proper lens is a historical perspective. Those who do not know history and understand history, are doomed to repeat it.

We are afraid to talk about slavery, Japanese encampments, attack on pearl harbor (other than when we want to create heroes in movies to substantiate blowing up women and children), and afraid to discuss how exploiting labor of non-citizens was the backbone of America's economic system in its inception. When we are afraid to look into the mirror and say that this is who America is, we remain that image. So to this very day our economic system exploits the labor of illegal immigrants while outwardly crying for increased border control.

America is ill; has been ill and will be ill as long as we do not argue against the hypocrisy of ill-critical minds of the those wanted to preserve their self-serving power and uncritical minds of those who are uneducated about history.

Give our children education, and give them their history to empower them all. I say here what has been said for centuries. Now I am going back to work to make sure that I do what I have been charged with by Kings, X, Ghandi, Woodson, Dubois, and all others who fought tirelessly to empower all to PRACTICE: liberation of the mind and spirit, fighting for justice for everyone, and allowing all to free. I am going to do some shit about it. Peace Dumi.

In respect and admiration of your efforts, always,

Ya brother from another mother,