As American As Apple Pie

Barry Max

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Black History is American History. The lack of historical acknowledgment or an accurate account of the Black American experience is a regular complaint of those dedicated to racial justice in America.

The continued subtle omission of Black/American accomplishments in history books help shape a contemporary mindset- an indoctrination.

O.K. back to omissions-

A particularly grievous omission ( historical disregard) hovers around the issue of lynching; this brutal bizarre form of mob ‘justice’ would occur continually from the end of the Civil War to the last celebrated lynching in 1951. The statistics are fuzzy- The Tuskegee institute claims about 3,500 during that period- most of the lynching recorded were documented through press clipping and postcards , there were obviously a lot more.

My grandmother has shared first hand accounts of an American world gone mad.

Before we continue ask yourself.

If I was alive then would I do something?

(To stop it)?

The Klu Klux Klan started in 1865…..thats interesting.

Isn’t that the same year the slaves were freed?

Mr. Pike( 1st Grandmaster) did not wait one Mystikal second to set the record straight.

No….. I repeat…no…. uppity niggers!

The white supremacist mindset included a belief that Black people were less than human therefore inhumane acts could be committed.

The Klan would help define those methods.

The level of brutality was incomprehensible.

A lot of people will have difficulty reading this post.

Many won’t even finish

Racism hits a nerve.

I always wonder why white people are so quick to say.

“This isn’t about race”
“He played the race card”

We did not invent the race card.

Back to lynching.

Contrary to popular belief there was a lot of skilled slave labor. Slaves were used to build and maintain the infrastructure of the Southern United States.

But who cares.

They are not doing it now.

We all know the Civil War devastated the southern economy. All the, newly freed, skilled artisans who were once sources of income for their masters immediately became bona fide competitors.

There main competition was poor whites.

The frugal lifestyle of the former slave served as a catalyst for creativity and efficiency. It was easy for these survivors to create a comfortable modest lifestyle from very little.

Prosperity was right around the corner all the newly freed men needed was opportunity. The ingredients for success were there.

Guaranteed in The Constitution.

Many ex-slaves began to thrive as a result of hard work and of course, humility but the rapid success brought about jealousy from the Southern Gentleman- the once dominant Southern Planter did not enjoy the same profits he did before. It was an abomination for him to be stripped of his skilled cheap labor, but for the brutes to successfully compete with him was unthinkable- like war with Iran

Still here?

Good.

I actually got hate mail for this article.

As we climbed the social totem pole under the watchful and protective eye of Federal Troops we began to develop a little self esteem. Started to walk upright, no longer bowing our heads as we walked by a white person. Some even made direct eye contact with a white person-before abolition that could get you killed.

Some former slaves even competed in international markets for tobacco and other crops during harvest charging top dollar for a superior crop.

This is surely where the notion of being uppity was invented.

The former Master snickering away as The French Merchant buys his ex-slave’s bumper crop of Tobacco.

His face turning red.

Knuckles bone white.

Gripping the Lions Head on his cane… A gentleman

Many white southerners felt the The Federal Government had declared outright war on their sensibilities. There was a simmering effect.

It was not just the Klan.

There was determination to prevent the newly freed black men from ever being on equal ground with was the white man.

William J Northern Governor of Georgia from 1890-1894 conducted qa fact finding mission on the back roads of his state
He observed: I was amazed to find scores and hundred of men who believed the Negro to be a brute, without responsibility to God, and his slaughter nothing more than the killing of a dog.

Remember Black folks were no longer a private commodity, and the value of Black life cheapened considerably.

Lynching became the most popular means of controlling and intimidating Black people. To deter any type of progress, but it was mainly about white supremacy. It was terrorism American style.

It was a cultural phenomenon that persisted for generations undeterred by local, regional and even Federal law enforcement.

Lynching were not restricted to the south, they occurred all over the United States.

Wherever they were it was an occasion.

There was a self righteous pride in these mobs. Photographs were taken, post cards made to commemorate what came to be known as The Negro Bar- B- Que.

Most of us conjure images of a man hanging from a tree.

Sorry- its worse.

The first recorded lynchings involved tying the victim to a tree, whipping them and then setting them on fire.

Pretty effective way to send a message to the uppity……

They would usually grab an innocent upstanding citizen to send a message

“We’ll take their best nigger an burn im on the trash heap if they get to actin biggity”(quote in Without Sanctuary 00′)

The power of the lynch mob was directly related to the excitement that could be generated. Many victims were dragged out of court after acquittal by a Judge and lynched. You could be lynched for just about anything.

Talk about “race card.”

There are documented lynchings with absurd reasons like reckless eyeballing, unpopularity…unpopularity? and not selling land.

Regardless, the atmosphere was always carnival like . A man dressed as a clown in blackface might be running around like a gleeful imp encouraging people on the sidelines to get involved.

People would sometimes rampage through streets severing digits, limbs or genitals off the victim as they made their way kicking, screaming and pleading for mercy

The burning coal oil would await them and the mob would erupt in a frenzy as the near dead but conscious man/woman was lowered into the oil. Participants would come and clip a finger, toe something as a souvenir before he was finally set afire and mercifully allowed to die.

An account of a lynching a by a reporter for the Vicksburg Evening Post describes the 1904 execution of a husband and wife.

When the two Negroes were captured, they were tied to trees and while their funeral pyres were being prepared the were forced to suffer the most fiendish tortures. The blacks were forced to hold out thier hands while one finger at a time was chopped off . The fingers were distributed as souvenirs. The ears of the murderers were cut off. Holbert was beaten severely his skull was fractured and one of his eyes, knocked out with a stick, hung by a shred from the socket…The most excruciating form of punishment consisted in the use of a large corkscrew in the hands of some of the mob. The instrument was bored into the woman in the arms, legs ,and body and then pulled out, the spirals tearing out big pieces of raw, quivering flesh every time it was withdrawn.

A frenzied atmosphere…in America there are a lot of frenzied atmospheres.

Suffice it to say the thin fabric of order was routinely torn in many otherwise law abiding communities. Entire towns would trade in their civility and replace it with demonic, unthinkable demonstrations of hatred.

Words like savage , brutal, sadistic, evil and aberrant can be used to describe every report of a lynching. remember these were supposedly sane people. The postman, The Dentist.

They were all indoctrinated to believe it was o.k.

This is The America we fail to recall in The History Books.

This is the America that gave a race of people PTSD.

An old black man shared some thoughts,

“Kill a mule, buy another, Kill a nigger hire another…They had to have a license to kill anything but a nigger”.

At least now you have to have a badge.

Bridge the gap…if you can.

Any funny looking heirlooms in your family?

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~ by barrymax on November 18, 2007.

14 Responses to “As American As Apple Pie”

  1. Barry, White America can never feel enough shame for what our ancestors did to yours. But with strong reminders, perhaps we’ll be able to make conscious decisions to dedicate ourselves to a future that’s different from our shared pasts.

    Did you happen to see the touring historical display on lynching a couple of years ago? It began in New York City and went on from there. I heard descriptions of it which were horrible, powerful and profound.

    I think such brutally honest exposés ought to be required viewing for all high school students, as an antidote to The Reicht’s campaign of disinformation and The Left’s gutless political correctness.

    Thanks for being part of the Truth Brigade.

  2. At least now you have to have a badge.
    Bridge the gap…if you can.
    Any funny looking heirlooms in your family?

    Thanks fairlane, the honest truth.

    Funny looking heirloom? maybe not.
    But there must be many a skeleton in the cupboards.

    Badges. Or uniforms – for the license to lynch.
    Take away the uniforms, the US military becomes the real terrorists forcing the American greed, with terror – allowed to torture, to shoot and bomb to kill – call it “shock and awe”, call it an unfortunate necessity – the “collateral damage” or the Abu-Ghraibs.

    To “shock and awe” just words to make the real intentions acceptable to the gullibles – to TERRORISE. And the world accepts, for they are the words of America.

    This article confirms the reasons for my anger at the hypocrisy of America claiming the champion of equality for all. We do not need to read history books to know, we can see it all, still happening all around the world.

    It also confirms my beliefs India-US 123: keep our enemies closer that America can never be anybody’s friend.

  3. Little Bang Theory- I was able to see the slavery in America exhibit and its follow-up slavery in New York.

    People need to know how progress was arrested.

    In the past I have found myself explaining the Arrested development of the black populace to people who had no idea these conditions persisted.

    New ethnic groups scratch their heads:
    “David Why the black so poor-don’t own anything- don’t want to work”

    My family owns stuff and we have always worked. But we have not been able to pass on wealth for several generations , we have been unable to pass on the legacy of a college education until now.
    There is no long line of Doctors Lawyers and Judges in our lineage .

    Just a lot of wise survivors with very high E.Q.’s

  4. This was an amazing post, thank you. I’ve been working on a post about racism myself, and have a draft set up. I keep going to work on it but find that doing the research has been a real eye-opener for me. In fact, I researched my family and found that on my mothers side of the family (they were from the south), one of them owned a slave. I was surprised because they were dirt poor and lost their farm, but when they moved to find another place to live they took their slave with them. I felt horrible that one of my own ancestors owned at least one slave-who knows what the others had or did? I ask myself if they were part of those mobs. My mother doesn’t have a racist bone in her body, she’s so sweet and has always taught us as kids that all men ARE equal. My father was from Italy, so of course, his family only goes back a short way in the United States.

    There was a documentary, I think on CNN just recently about lynchings and racism but I was so busy that week that I missed it and forgot to tape it. I wonder if I could find it again.

    Thank you again for this post.

  5. In the 1920’s in homogeneous Oshkosh, Wisconsin, tens of thousands of citizens gathered for Ku Klux Klan rallies on the frozen Fox River, where they would burn large wooden crosses. No reported lynchings that I am aware of.

    You don’t have to be southern to be concerned about what is in your family’s cupboard, the Klan was a national movement.

    Rightwingers who would like us to believe that all Arabs are now the sub-class take on a tone of moral superiority because of the barbaric beheadings of two Americans. Disgusting to be sure, but I’m not sure I’d be considering myself superior with the corkscrewing of a woman’s flesh in our past.

  6. “If I was alive then would I do something?

    (To stop it)?”

    That is a question that this southern man has asked himself many times. Mobs are terrifying to me. I like to think I would be courageous and strong in the face of this horrifying injustice but how would I really react?

  7. Thank you.

    That was hard to read. These issues are easy to play off as old, but, even being the young woman that I am…, my father, otherwise unnaturally passive, forced me to get off the phone with a friend I worked with and “put his foot down” about allowing me to go out with him in high school. I was in shock (even though I coulda seen it coming a thousand miles away in hindsight.)
    A few years later, my father and I were at a pool and a mixed race couple were makin’ out (it was wonderfully hot, but ick- I was next to my father,) and he shook his head and said, “I don’t understand that. Do you?” I said, “Yes, I do.” and we have never spoken of such issues since.
    It has taken me years to overcome my small town’s unspoken segregation mentality and the guilt I still have, being white. I cannot, personally, distance it as a historical phenomenon. My children are in racially and economically diverse school and my son and I have been having some intense conversations as I am a bad mom and let him watch South Park. If you ever want to broach a controversial subject with a child. Watch South Park with that child. You will find yourself explaining a lot! -gay issues, racial issues, environmental issues, religious issues…. Oh, I could go on and on, but won’t. “Class” is where I like to focus my resentments and often do.

  8. Powerful post, and a good reminder of the savagery that lurks beneath our civilized veneer. I too am terrified of the mob mentality. It’s the reason for all the horrors you describe, the atrocities of Nazi Germany, Abu Ghraib, and more.

    I hate when people recall the “good old days” in the 50’s or earlier, and say how awful things are now. Things could certainly be better now – we are still giving in to our baser instincts in so many ways – but the “good old days” were a lot worse for many of us.

  9. The reporting of hate crimes increased 8% last year with 7,772 incidents.

    The noose incident in Jena was not included because the Feds rarely, if ever, prosecute juveniles under Hate Crime legislation. (Although Federal Investigators said the incident fit the profile of a hate crime).

    Out of over 17,000 police agencies, almost 5,000 failed to participate in hate crime reporting, so the numbers may actually be higher. Jena is one of the municipalities that does not report hate crime statistics to the Feds.

    Gee, I wonder why?

    “Of the 7,330 offenders identified by police, 58.6 percent were white, 20.6 percent were black, 12.9 percent were of unknown racial background and other races accounted for the remainder.”

    Here’s the full article.

    I guess that puts to rest the idiot opinion of a certain Stalker/Loser many of us know and dislike.

  10. I know fairlane has had to guard the integrity of this comment section.

    It is a testament to the past.

    I am not bitter by the past I am bitter about the present- someone wrote in my comments – “you admit things are getting better”- yeah I do they could not get worse.

    I resent the denial of racism I resent the denial of an unbalanced and biased government.

    But I don’t resent being American.

    I know, its ironic, we Black folks suffer from a peculiar form of Stockholm Syndrome.

    eyemkmootoo- There were thousands just like you. I wrote similiar article on race riots- The original Race riots- I focused on three , among them was the Tulsa Oklahoma riots that destroyed Greenwood which, at the time, was referred to as Black Wall Street.
    The entrepreneurial Blacks and Indians cooperated and built their own prosperous communities that were sytematically targeted and eventually wiped from the map. A man from tulsa sent me a letter, as a child his (white) family shared the event with shame to prevent their children from ever taking part in such barbaric acts. Around a lot of other dinner tables the conversation shifted between pride and something else.

    My whole point was to “Bridge The Gap” I talk to all my elderly Aunts and both my grandmothers. The world they grew up in is was full of dangerous obstacles. An unfair place that was designed for other people.
    The world I grew up in was the same.
    The difference today?

    We have adapted, assimilated, unmolested into the fringes of White American acceptance.

    There will always be a lingering thought- is it because I am black?

    Today we can actually pass on what we earn and build a legacy.

    Isn’t that the American dream?

  11. Dave- By the way, powerful post. I’m glad you continued, and then expanded the theme.

    People need to be able to talk about things that make them uncomfortable. We’re getting too comfortable in America.

  12. I’m shocked that most kids don’t even know how Blacks created in, and help build this country with no fan fare or recognition from anyone.

    To constantly hold another down for no other reason than their skin color must be gravely deeper than the eyes or the mind can conceive.

    Dr. John Henrik Clark. See Dr. Clark and History. I think this tells a story that all should follow about the fear of and the restrant place on the Blacks because of that fear.

    What fear….. watch and one will know.

  13. A very good post, Barry Max.

  14. Outstanding post and comments. Dave, when I get back to blogging I definitely want to explore this “American” business in greater depth. I’m a darkly-complected “White” person but my parents drummed it into my head from a very young age that no matter how good it ever got in the USA, I was not an “American.” Depending on the situation, I generally self-identified as a Jew, a Russian-Jew, and Eastern-European Jew, an Ashkenaz, or a New Yorker. This made expatriation a lot easier to tolerate. It really felt like the normal course of things rather than something weird.

    Especially because No_slappz hates Ice Cube so much, it’s even more meaningful to me that even during his darkest business problems with Jerry Heller, Cube always made the distinction between “White” and “Jew”. It’s distinction that’s common currency in New York City (although the code words in the event promotion business, for example, are “urban” and “upscale”).

    In a way I’m jealous that despite every reason to hate America, by and large Black people don’t. Well, as was pointed by Barry Max they fucking well built America so what good would it do?

    As for my tribe, I already spilled the dirty secret that Bill Kristol and Wolf Blitzer won’t tell. The USA is but another diasporal stopover. Not the promised land, “white” skin and all.

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