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How many nooses will it take?

October 19, 2007

During the course of my lifetime, I’ve seen many changes. I watched the televised record of the Harlem riot of 1964. I watched the Watts riot of 1965. I watched the Detroit riot of 1967. Through television, radio and listening to older people talk, I witnessed an unfolding of history that sparked those riots and called a man to rise above the violence and seek peaceful resolution to the social and economic injustice dividing our nation.

Although the epic events I witnessed were far away, the message was pretty clear to me… the time for real, meaningful, change was upon us. I remember watching Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and found myself agreeing with the vision of the future he described.

Progress has been made, and in some cases, it came with a very high price. I remember watching footage of the National Guard using force to end peaceful civil rights marches. We as a nation were diminished. I remember watching television coverage as Dr. King was struck down by a lone gunman. We as a nation mourned the loss of a great man whose vision of a color-blind society lives on today.

I’ve witnessed many changes in the past 40+ years. I believed we were making measurable progress, perhaps a bit slower than some would like, but progress none the less. Oh, there have been random acts of stupidity along the way, but I honestly believed – and still do – that we could get beyond judging others based on the color of their skin.

Since the dawn of the 21st century, there have been many events that seemed for a time to assuage the differences between us and bring us closer together. It is reasonable to assume that when a country is threatened, its people put differences aside and find common ties.

Here we are, seven years into the 21st century and in several areas of the country, nooses – a symbol used to recall times past when blacks were lynched – are once again in the news. I don’t necessarily think that a noose in and of itself constitutes a hate crime, as some suggest. However, it does indicate that the person or persons responsible for the public display of nooses does not possess the skills or intellect to engage in meaningful dialogue and must resort to hiding in the shadows. Then, when no one is watching, they run out and hoist their colors – the noose.

Every time one, two or a few lunatics do something like this, they feel that it makes up for some perceived injustice committed against them. How better to make someone understand your injured pride than by using a symbol of racial hatred to proclaim your superiority and instill fear and anger in the hearts of your enemies? If you’re that proud of your work, come on out and take credit for your deeds so that all may know of your greatness.

Leaving a noose and running away is like committing suicide and not leaving a note. Nobody has any clue why you did something so senseless. Worse yet, you leave others to clean up your mess.

How many nooses will it take to drive peaceful people to violence?

How many nooses will it take before someone decides that an empty symbol is just not good enough and strive to fill one (or more) of them with a human being?

How many nooses will it take to make people understand the shear idiocy of judging people based on the color of their skin?

How many nooses will it take to make people say enough is enough?

Our skin color may not be the same, but when cut, every last one of us bleeds red blood.


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