If you haven't been watching television lately, you should be aware. Nooses are once again popping up all over America. Here in Pittsburgh, in less than one week, nooses have been found in three different locations where black people work.
Let's set the scene. You're already having a bad day. You woke up on the wrong side of the bed after 3 hours of sleep, you got pulled over for speeding on the way to work and strolled in with just one minute to spare and you're greeted by a noose. Let's say you're an Ivy League professor. Imagine how this could effect your day. Maybe there were no nooses but the family of your ex-boyfriend or just some guy you knew decided they wanted to torture and sexually assault you, spit racial slurs at you, and make you eat dog and rat feces for a week. Or perhaps you're a black student who just wanted to sit under a tree. After seeing things like this (thanks dp), how could you attest to the ambivalence of the appearance of a noose?
As has been noted by several journalists, this is a sort of a resurgence for the dastardly rope. All of these events seem shocking to witness in 2007, but it's nothing new. It's a reminder. Don't get out of place. When white children or teenagers re-introduce this symbol of hatred and oppression, it's somehow not prosecutable as a hate crime, and is sometimes even dismissed as a joke. Let's not forget the ghetto parties. Just google that one for 10 pages of information. Even law students are doing it. Great. That's just who I want as public defenders and future politicians. Deciding my fate and the fate of my children and grandchildren. A bunch of people who find it amusing to mock the conditions some people are born into and others embrace.
But let's blame hip hop. This is such an old, tired, pathetic argument. Nooses have been around hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years longer than hip hop. Believe it or not, racial slurs have, too. This may shock you, but yes, it's true. A black person was not the first person to use the word nigger. The people who come under fire for their speech, Imus and Bill O'Reilly and on and on, and their supporters like to use hip hop as their scapegoats. Interesting considering both men are older than the art form and are no strangers to controversy dating back to before hip hop was mainstream.
Aside from that semi-unrelated tangent, allow me to examine the history of nooses a bit further. Back when black people were forced into subservience, i.e. slavery and it's by product, Jim Crow, nooses were as symbolic as burning crosses and confederate flags. When you saw these, often coupled with a band of sheet-covered men and boys, you knew they were a warning of what you could face should you choose to continue to get out of line; doing crazy things like trying to register people to vote or de-segregate schools. Grown men were yanked from their beds or off of their porches and strung up from trees in front of their families to hang until their deaths. And this is the time you'd like to hearken? I'll pass. There are enough issues today, poverty, racism, the residual effects of Katrina, hunger, the lack of health insurance for many Americans, THE WAR IN IRAQ, pick any presidential platform and you'll find a pet project. I'd rather not have to deal with your nooses as well.
*Is anyone else perplexed as to WHY wikipedia has a tutorial on its noose page about how to tie one?*
State of Black America:
Part IX: Let Someone In
Part VIII: Nappy-Headed Hos
Part VII: "I'm A Conservative"
Part VI: Education
Part V: Names
Part IV: Rapists and Child Molesters
Part III: Hair
Part II: Katrina
Part I: The Athlete