Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday morning surf

I'm not much of a romantic and I don't cry at weddings. But this story in the NYTimes today nearly made me cry.

Nooses - to ignore or not?
Two pieces this week question whether or not we should pay any attention to things like nooses that are used to spark a rise in us.

In today's Washington Post Robin Givhan, in writing about Kara Walker's retrospective at the Whitney, writes about how much power we give these symbols. And how we should no longer give that power to the symbol and to the people who use it against us.

And earlier this week I listened to John McWhorter's commentary on NPR and he said very similar things about not giving over power to the symbol.

I generally argue against that kind of thinking which essentially urges us to let racist symbols be. I don't want to ignore those symbols - and certainly if I ever see a noose anywhere near me or my family, I certainly will raise a stink. But is that the right thing? It, as McWhorter and Givhan argue, doesn't work and doesn't matter. We hold vigils and "raise saying" and still the symbols are waved in our faces. So what does it matter? Does a noose, raised by an ignorant white person (or any other race), erase or diminish any of our opportunities? Or accomplishments?

It's a part of the discussion we haven't had yet, I think, among all the Jena 6 protests.

And it's interesting that we can come up with this much support and energy around this one case, when so much else that we can impact is going on.

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