Monday, October 29, 2007

Noose Mania Just As Deadly Today

For African-Americans who haven’t yet received a noose, it’s only a matter of time according to Blaxplanation.

“I don't know about you but I'm patiently waiting to receive mine.

Maybe I'll get one early one morning when I open up the door to my office. Perhaps I'll see one hanging from a lamp post outside of my window.
The unimaginative bigots responsible for hanging these nooses know exactly what they're doing. They seek to disrupt the social equilibrium of their black targets. They know that some noose recipients will be shaken but most will be forced into a position in which they become distrustful of nearly all of the whites with whom they work or fraternize.”

This statement specifically points to modern day racism that is embodied by a symbol of the past, but not any less destructive.

However, this is not the message most people are getting from mainstream media reports.

The terror of slavery and violent racism that was most obvious until the 1970s is now treated as a thing of the past. Mainstream reports of the noose-frenzy taking over the nation perpetuate the notion that the racism of today is tiny, weak, and isolated compared to its stronger, violent, incarnation in the past.

Unlike the Blaxplanation report, mainstream media is making it seem as if these nooses are small racist blips of the past popping up in our present social system.

Our popular notions of racism at its worst are anchored down to specific periods of historical time such as the [1950s?] 1960s, or to specific geographical cultures such as the antebellum South (I’m not sure if “antebellum” needs to be capitalized).

What does this mean? It means that reports like this happen:

ABC News dutifully reports,
“But do the nooses reflect a resurgence of racism in America?

The noose has an infamous reputation in American as a hate symbol dating back more than a century. It was used in the past for violent lynchings against black Americans, so the revival has some concerned.”

A dumb question: what is a noose? Is it only that piece of rope tied into a loop? No, it is the manifestation of directed evil--especially for African-Americans, but to other people of color as well.

ABC's report is clear; the noose is a hate symbol that carries with it terrorism of the past. But that's the thing, it reports the noose as a symbol of the past.

The "revival" of the noose is an inappropriate statement that upholds the mistaken modern day ideas of what racism really is. It assumes that nooses do not exist in every corner of society--which they do, just not in the forms of looped ropes.

It assumes that slavery does not exist today--which it does, in the form of disproportionate rates of African-American and Latino incarceration. It assumes that Jim Crow no longer applies--which it does, in the form of substandard education for children of color, or in the overall second-class citizenship of people of color.

Can we say that the impact of the noose upon African-Americans is equivalent with the impact of a photo of Hitler on survivors of the Holocaust?

In some respects, yes, because both carry a terror that will not die because there are always people--many or few--who embrace the terrorist ideology and seek to perpetuate it. You only need to look at the Neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan for examples.

But in another respect, no. Hitler and his Nazis were the faces of the Holocaust--and the swastika represented their cause. A photo of Hitler will always represent the terror of the 1930s and ‘40s, but a noose today does not merely represent the terror of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a mistake to try to tie the noose of today down to our violent racist past because the violence and racism is not simply in the past.

Racism is just as deadly today as it was forty years ago and a hundred forty years ago.

ABC's report defines the latest noose trend as a "revival" of past racism. This creates a notion that all those nooses that are appearing across the country are the products of white people stuck in pro-slavery or pro-Jim Crow mentality.

What happens is that our media’s reports of nooses then ignore the harsh reality of racism that exists throughout society, and what happens is that the FBI will hunt down and punish the noose hangers and essentially get rid of the most visible traces of racism of modern day society.

Footnote: A caveat to my Hitler comparison (so that I am not ignorantly pulling the Hitler card)

I am not subscribing to what Jon Stewart calls "Hitler Mania"

We must not throw around the Hitler card because it is disrespectful to those who carry in their veins the passion and struggle of the generations before them who experienced the terror of Hitler.

Plus, it makes us “look crazy.”


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