Lynching In America Just Took A Different Form

By Barney Blakeney  

Lately I’ve been in that melancholy mood I sometimes get when I’m depressed about the future of Black folks.

Over the past few days there were five murders in the same number of days in North Charleston.

All but one of the victims was Black. And if it ain’t enough for us to be killing each other, the system ain’t lettin’ up either!

White supremacists held a commemorative march in Washington, D.C. to remind us that what they started in Charlottesville, Va. last year ain’t over.

And then here comes that hustlin’ chick, Omarosa Manigault Newman, trying to play us with some tape about crap we already know – and she thinks we’re dumb enough to buy her book!

I already was in a tailspin when I saw Oprah Winfrey’s report on the lynching of Black folks in America on the CBS 60 Minutes program Sunday.

I was wondering what Oprah would do on 60 Minutes – she’s bringin’ it! Her report was about the Equal Justice Initiative memorial for more than 4,000 Black victims of lynching in America.

To commemorate the victims whose cases they’ve examined, the organization recently bought six acres of land in Montgomery, Alabama and constructed a memorial.

The report included graphic pictures of lynchings and the celebrations that accompanied them.

Knowing American History – and most of us do – the story was an austere reminder of what’s possible, what’s perpetuated, in this country. Public lynchings and mob law hasn’t been conducted much over the past few decades.

Less overt and sophisticated methods take their place – police shootings of unarmed victims, mass incarceration, the lack of effective early child development programs, pseudo-public education, inequities in housing and disparities in employment and income manifest today’s lynchings of Black people.

I was fighting back the tears all weekend, especially after watching Oprah’s 60 Minutes report. What I’ve seen happen in Charlottesville and here in Charleston with local secessionists conjured up really bad feelings.

I’ve lived through some of the best years America has offered Black folks. But last week I watched young folks, people who will control the next era of American society, display the level of hatred and discrimination that has subjugated Black folks since 1619 and produced the inhumanity resulting in blatant atrocities such as lynchings.

As my good friend Chuck Hill might say, I’m on the ‘back-40’ of my life. I’ve lived through being forced to sit at the back of the bus and watched as Black men became drivers of the bus.

I’ve seen the dynamic evolve to a point where Black folks became the only ones on the bus and now see that white folks have their own express buses.

Racism, discrimination, segregation and subjugation never was eliminated from American society, it just evolved.

So I’m distressed to see young white people, egged on by angry white men like Donald Trump who teach a philosophy of hatred and subjugation, adopt a supremacist position.

I know where that leads – been there, done that. And I’m disheartened that people like Manigault Newman are so willing to adopt a conduct of deceit that says, “Tell them anything; get what you want.”

My problem is that in the face of all the information that tells us the ruling class is manipulating us all to create a system where there’s only us and them, we swallow the bullcrap whole hog.

We’re all getting’ screwed, but Black folks especially should be on top of this nonsense. At the end of the day more of us will be lynched by incarceration, unemployment, miseducation and poor housing and healthcare.

I’m alarmed that as the International African American Museum, which will add millions more dollars to Charleston’s tourism economy, is set for construction to begin next year, yet Black folks haven’t positioned themselves even to sell t-shirts.

Our focus is on some kids selling Palmetto roses. Yeah those kids are important, but the economic lynching they’ll face will leave them hanging from Palmetto trees in Charleston’s future.

My dark mood Monday was somewhat brightened reading an op-ed piece by a local writer who outlined some initiatives to reduce racial disparities in our community.

Apparently some folks are working to address what we all know is the legacy of our slave culture. It’s funny how Black folks get indignant when white folks take the lead to address inequities we face.

You only get so much growth from plowing soft soil. It’s a hard row to hoe, but somebody’s got to move the rocks and plow the hard ground.

For the past 40 years, Black folks have taken the path of least resistance. Our children will pay the cost for our comfort.

I believe this cycle of relative freedom from the violent brutality manifested by the lynchings that took in the past is coming to an end – hell, it never really stopped.

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