Is the noose, a symbol of racial terrorism, returning?

Kevin C. Peterson writes: According to the Huffington Post, the use of the noose is becoming a nauseating national trend: “Nooses were also found at a frat house at the University of Maryland, a middle school in Florida, and at two high schools in separate incidents in North Carolina. A Walker, Louisiana, police officer resigned in March after leaving a noose in the department’s squad room.” In May, less than a day after Taylor Dumpson because the first black student president, several bananas hanging from nooses appeared on the American University campus.

The lynching noose is a blatantly offensive artifice, especially to generations of African-Americans who are aware of its history. The noose is a symbol of an odious ideology of human hierarchy that denotes domination of one group of people over the other, namely whites over blacks.

Between 1882 and 1968, at least 3,446 black people were lynched in the United States, according to the NAACP. Stated more dramatically, blacks accounted for 72.7 percent of all recorded lynchings, even while they represented no more than 12 percent of the population during that period.

Called the “Negro holocaust,” the extended practice of lynching in America was a cultural policy performed through varying methods that included shooting, strangulation, stabbing, drowning and especially hanging. Few have captured the tragic dimensions of lynching in the broader popular culture than the jazz singer Billie Holiday, whose performance of the song “Strange Fruit” in the 1940s shocked the nation to its spiritual core and galvanized sentiment against the brutal practice.

Lynching represents white supremacy, which the theologian Drew Hart has described as a “sociopolitical collective that created [an] artificially constructed group … ” Yes, racism is a social construction and as such, it is also evil.

The irony of America under its first black president is that the country had seemed to reverse itself on matters of race. While many of us thought that the Obama presidency would bring about racial advances, it appears that the opposite has occurred. We have backslidden on race, reversing the slow, inexorable progress we seemed to make since the civil rights movement.

It seems that our racial healing is not quite at hand. In fact, on matters of race, things may get worse before they get better. The use of the lynching noose seems to indicate that racial resentment and animus still smolder on the periphery — if not the very center — of public life in America. Irrepressible and persistent, racism remains prominent in the public imagination of the country. It clings within the culture with undiminished tenacity. [Continue reading…]

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