State of Black America Part X: Noosely Speaking

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


Kacie said...

This is extremely disturbing. Nooses aren't made for any reason other to intimidate or worse. How can anyone argue otherwise? Their presence should never be viewed as a joke. I hope this is the last of it--but I fear that it's not. :-\

Stacie von Kutieboots said...


I've seen an album on Facebook called "The Martin Luther King Day Celebration" people were either supposed to bring hot sausages, collard greens, or dress up like flavor flave to get in.

i.hate. _____ ______. everything is a joke to them.

DP said...

And they wonder why we leave.

This is going to continue until someone gets caught and dealt with.

I went to school with a relative of Mr. Madyun. Cant be that many black folk in Pgh with that last name.

People sleep on the racism in Pittsburgh cause they love the football team, but I got some stories.

Promiscuous X said...

wow. I was deeply moved by this im at my desk at work and my eyes were glued to the monitor. This is getting to be a big thing in the news. Its crazy people trying to bring back things that have already past. I swear I do not wanna relieve the past. We have come to far to move backwards. Everytime i turn on the news. It hits closer an closer to home. What is this world coming to.

Mr. Jones said...

I wanted to discuss this in my blog, but you did the job for me. Nice work.

These nooses are an issue. One actually pooped up on a tree in front of the Cultural Center at my alma mater, the University of Maryland. That story started to garner some national attention, but the jena issue came up a few days later.

Race in America is an issue. I hate the fact that people try to act as if race isn't a daily issue in the US. It definitely is.

Nit Ra Sit said...


I feel today in 2007 that we need to really start being proactive instead of reactive to these incidents. I no-longer allow bushfoonery to quake me.

It's gonna be a long walk to the door if anybody tries me with that noose crap. In view of our straight up Original Man and Woman superiority do we care what the melanin challenged do anymore? Do we really??? care??? They are infantile at best.

What we need to concentrate on is promoting more positive Original people images around the world. Stop not wanting to work with folks that look like you because they dont exactly like the same things you like or live by the same code. Wake up folks it's another trick to keep you focus on them and by the way "who is minding the story" while we all tring to find Noosy man and his band of thugs?? Think about it.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

Nice blog and nooses are like the cross in Amerikkka

Sha Boogie said...

{{shaking my head}} its seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same. I think racism is corny...lol.. I am always in awe that with everything else going on in the world (like you said) people have time to focus on the bullshit!

jameil1922 said...

kacie... indeed.

stace... and it is so frustrating.

dp... seriously. who would stay but on the other hand its everywhere so where can you run to?

x... i don't know that its what this world is coming to. i think its always been around, but was just under the surface more.

jones... thanks. and yes it most certainly is. i get SO PISSED when people try to ignore that.

nit... i'm not quite sure i understand your viewpoint.

torrance... thx.

Proactiff said...

I saw the beginnings of the "noose on the professor's doorstep" story in the email BAW sends me. I couldn't bring myself to read about it that early in the morning. Thanks for the information I can digest it now. ;)

CNEL said...

Given that I received an uncorraborated report about one being hung in one of the dorms here, I ain't surprised.

Given the fact that I see how some of these losers look at me (and it sure as hell is because I'm a black man), I ain't surprsed.

Given the fact that diversity education is one of my forte's, I'm not surprised.

Given the fact that people don't stop to think, I ain't surprised.

I just hope the madness stops.

LoveMyselfFirst said...

good post.. but really, let's not call this whole noose/ racist insurgency a comeback - it never left.

Nitty-Gritty said...

Just another reminder that Racism is not dead and history will repeat, that is why we need to continue to strengthen our youth in ever way because they are our future. Believe it or not there are many people who may sit next to you at work and inside they hate you because of the color of your skin.

Liz said...

Very well said. I went to TC and folks tried to act like they were so progressive and liberal there. Like they'd be the last person on earth to be racist. I feel for the professor because everyone there will be filled with shock and awe and say that it must have been an outsider. Surely, no one in the TC community is a racist...yeah, right. And if folks believe that, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn...

jameil1922 said...

sha... lmao @ racism is corny. at the very least its counter-productive. what are you proving?

pro... you're welcome.

cnel... but how can it stop when so many are content to pretend racism doesn't exist, while perpetuating the stereotypes within their own homes and passing along their ignorance to other generations?

love... the nooses are seeing a resurgence. racism has never left, but the numbers show an average of 5 nooses a year are left in the U.S., those are the reported ones. That number has doubled this year.

nitty... you're right.

liz... i know. the professor says this won't stop her from doing what she does.