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5 December, 2007

“Our ignorance of history causes us to slander our own times.” —Gustave Flaubert

Last week in my public administration class, my teacher brought up this story from USA Today. It discusses how racial harassment suits in the workplace are on the rise, stemming from people using nooses to threaten and harass their coworkers on the basis of race. I was appalled by this story. Here’s a conversation that ensued:

PA Professor: And in Jena, there were issues over nooses being hung in the “white tree.” The Jena 6

Ex-military Dude: *interrupts* Last time I checked, you could hang a white person with a noose. So I don’t think it’s a racist thing.

The Rest of the Class: *silence*

PA Professor: Well, I don’t know about that… *tries to move conversation along*

Me: Excuse me. I’m sorry, but anyone with knowledge of the history of our nation would know that in the South, lynching was a form of vigilantism and racism toward blacks. They were hung for crimes they never got a trial for, or crimes they never even committed. Maybe even looking at a white person wrong. So, the noose being hung in a tree or shown at work or put around a black person’s neck as the story mentions IS a hate crime and it IS racist.

Fellow classmate: Thank you.

PA Professor: I agree. *moves conversation along*

I can’t for the life of me understand how someone could feel that nooses aren’t powerful symbolism for racial hatred and threats to the welfare of the victims. At one of those businesses, a white person PLACED A NOOSE AROUND THE NECK OF A BLACK COWORKER. There were videos of the Ku Klux Klan shown in another of the incidents. What about that ISN’T racially motivated?

The sad fact is that these types of crimes will continue to be perpetuated as long as an attitude like Ex-military Dude’s exists. I would think that a person who is getting a college education could at least understand the historical context of these incidents, even if he doesn’t feel that the incidents are hate crimes. Completely ignoring our history means that we are condemned to repeat it. And that’s not okay with me.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. libby permalink
    5 December, 2007 1:45 pm

    Good Post. I just wanted to say that it’s awesome that you spoke up and said what you did. I am sure that most of the class was thinking the same thing, they just didn’t have the guts to say it. Not calling out someone who is being racist is almost as bad as being racist.

  2. 5 December, 2007 4:29 pm

    Thanks, Libby. I know that many of them thought it too but were too afraid to insult anyone. I couldn’t just let his comment go.

  3. 9 December, 2007 3:20 am

    You’d be surprised (or maybe not) how many people don’t think the Jena 6 even were hate/racist related. So weird to me.

    Also.. you’d be surprised how many people don’t even know what a noose is… ummmmm HELLO? McFly?

  4. 14 December, 2007 10:03 am

    Norma, I wish I didn’t have to be surprised by that.

    And the noose thing? Yikes. Sometimes I wonder about people…

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