Our ugly racism’s newest artifact: The noose left at the African American Museum

Columnist ~ The Washington Post
On Wednesday, as yellow buses disgorged flocks of school groups and multigenerational visitors pushed wheelchairs and strollers into the Smithsonian’s compelling new Museum of African American History and Culture, something entered the building with them:HATRED!Sometime in the afternoon, in the gallery on segregation, someone placed the vile instrument of our country’s history of lynching — a noose — inside the museum. It was the second time this week one was found on Smithsonian grounds. A noose was found hanging from a tree near the Hirshhorn museum four days earlier.

But a noose inside the African American History museum was a disturbing reminder that our history of racial oppression and violence is far from over.


“The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity — a symbol of extreme violence for African Americans,” Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the museum, said in a statement. “Today’s incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face.

“This was a horrible act,” he said, “but a stark reminder of why our work is so important.”

And that’s especially true in Trump’s America, where strident white nationalism is on the rise. The Southern Poverty Law Center has recorded about 1,300 incidents since the 2016 election. They are happening almost every day, all over the country.

Three people have been stabbed to death in the past two weeks by alleged white supremacists – two men defending a Muslim woman on a train in Portland, Ore., and Richard W. Collins III, a Bowie State University student out with friends on the University of Maryland College Park campus.

In Los Angeles on Wednesday, someone spray-painted racist graffiti outside the home of basketball star LeBron James as he prepared for the NBA Finals.

“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough,” James told reporters. And he invoked the memory of Emmett Till’s mother, who forced the world to look at her lynched 14-year-old son. “The reason she had an open casket was that she wanted to show the world what her son went through as far as a hate crime, and being black in America,” James said.

Till’s casket is on display at the African American Museum, where the noose was left on the very same day.

Assuming it was left by a racist, white person, it shouldn’t be too hard to find the suspect. Far too few white people go there.


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