At an anti-racism caucus a few weeks ago, we were talking about the Jena 6 and the subsequent flurry of noose sightings all over the country, and one participant wondered if there really has been an increase in noose hangings, or if the media is just putting more focus on the sightings these days.
I am pretty sure that there is some increase, given the whole copycat phenomenon, but noose hangings are nothing new. A friend sent me this thoroughly disturbing story that she had heard on NPR the previous weekend . . . you can read the short blurb, but to get the full effect, I would recommend that you listen to the entire podcast (it’s about 30 to 40 minutes long.) I wanted to vomit after listening–and you may feel that way too–but listen anyway.
Many of us have rallied around the battle cry of “Free the Jena Six!”, as well we should. But I didn’t hear anybody crying out to free Charles Hickman, and in the podcast he makes it painfully clear that, no matter how large a settlement he received, he really never will be free of this again. “It’s in my mind now”, he kept saying.
Oh, Mr. Hickman, I am so, so sorry. And it’s in my mind now, too, only I don’t want it out of my mind . . . I don’t want to forget the discomfort I felt as I heard your story, and I don’t want to ever stop wrestling with my own complicity in this.
ps–as I was researching this post, I came across another NPR story that has a black man talking about “ignore the noose“, saying that if we simply ignore noose sightings, we will deplete these nooses of their power.
I would suggest (and others agree) that the noose ALREADY has power, several hundred years of it, and merely “ignoring” it isn’t going to make it go away.