Monday, May 21, 2007

Stilled life

I hate to bum y’all out on a Monday. This link is definitely not for everybody.

But here is a Flash movie by James Allen based on his book “Without Sanctuary,” a collection of photographic post cards of black people lynched by whites.

It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around these grim artifacts of American social history. But the practice of lynching, the administration of “mob justice” – like so much of our shared past – was a more complicated phenomenon than we give it credit for.

Whites, for example, lynched plenty of white folks too. (Back in February, I mentioned the case of Roy Belton.) This Flash movie includes a photo of the hanging body of Leo Frank, whose lynching inspired the formation of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

Some blacks, such as followers of the Nation of Islam, place lynching high in their bill of indictment against the White Man. Some white racialists who express themselves on the Internet point to the disproportion of black violent crime today and say the lynchers did what they had to do to protect white communities from Negro savagery.

Me, I look at these photographs and struggle to connect with the humanity on both ends of the rope. Human beings did this. To other human beings. And nothing human is alien to me.

(Hat-tip: The Electronic Village by way of AfroSpear.)

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think the scariest thing is realizing that we are ALL human, with the potential for evil and for good within us. It's so much easier to hide behind an 'us and them" mentality - "I could never do that" - instead of thinking that, maybe we could.

bumpster said...

How long before a group of racist trolls on the forums of a local daily put down the cheetos, push away from the keyboard hit the streets looking for "Leo Frank"? Let us hope they continue to stain the net and not take their hatred to the streets like their grand and great grandparents did. Also, the closest to modern lynchings are jailhouse beatings of inmates in contempt of cop. Google Mondez Denmon for a recent example. Finally, I fear the day a group of students takes filming a schoolyard fight too far and turn it into a fatal beatdown.

Undercover Black Man said...

Thanks, Anon. And thanks, Bumpster, for pointing me to the Mondez Denmon case.

Villager said...

Thanx for the hat tip. It is hard to keep up with all of the positive flow taking place in the AfroSpear. I look forward to spending more time in the future here in your village!

peace, Villager

Undercover Black Man said...

Thanks, Villager. I will definitely keep checking you out as well.

Anonymous said...

I was fascinated by two categories of lynching in Without Sanctuary: the lynching of Black women (so much for the absurd legend of Southern 'chivalry'), and the lynching of Blacks by other Blacks (I hadn't been aware of the existence of the latter phenomenon until I viewed W' Sanct.).

Of course, it's to this exceptionally barbaric period of Southern history that the Nazified negrophobe Larry Auster looks back with tearful nostalgia when he laments the unwillingness of Southern Whites to deal with Blacks as they once did.

Incidentally, isn't it strange that this phenomenon is always referred to as 'lynching' and never by another term that would fit it just as well: human sacrifice?

VictorK

Undercover Black Man said...

Blacks lynched other blacks? Dang, Victor... now I have to buy that book.

Mob psychology is deep. As I mentioned in a comment a few months ago, blacks joined with whites in a New Orleans mob (1891) to lynch 11 Sicilian immigrants.

Deeper still, I remember stumbling across a story in the Amsterdam News back in the '20s about a black guy who actually talked himself out of being lynched! As I recall the story -- and it's been years since I saw it -- the black guy persuaded the lynch mob that the man they wanted was actually some white guy. And the mob let him go.

And as this news story illustrates, lynch mobs are still doing their thing in other parts of the world.