Why Slavery and Black Lynchings Still Matter

Check out the following pictures and news item from 1918 about Mary Turner

Mary Turner, May 19, 1918

Source NAACP

Walter White was sent by the NAACP to investigate lynchings in Brooks- Lowndes County, Georgia. The lynching of Mary Turner was one of the investigations.

Abusive plantation owner, Hampton Smith, was shot and killed. A week-long manhunt resulted in the killing of the husband of Mary Turner, Hayes Turner.

Mary Turner denied that her husband had been involved in Smith’s killing, publicly opposed her husband’s murder, and threatened to have members of the mob arrested.

On May 19th, a mob of several hundred brought her to Folsom Bridge which separates Brooks and Lowndes counties in Georgia. The mob tied her ankles, hung her upside down from a tree, doused her in gasoline and motor oil and set her on fire.

Turner was still alive when a member of the mob split her abdomen open with a knife and her unborn child fell on the ground. The baby was stomped and crushed as it fell to the ground. Turner’s body was riddled with hundreds of bullets.

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Imagine that you were a white adult man or worse a white adult man with your child watching such scenes. Imagine the snickering and delight from other white people around you as they also watched.

Then imagine that these were not single or even uncommon occurrences, but ones that happened with relative frequency.

Now imagine that instead of you being a white person, you were that slave being auctioned, or parent watching your child be torn away from you to be auctioned. Or imagine that instead-of-the-stomped-and-crushed-unborn-child-of-Mary Turner, you were that child and somehow survived and grew up.

Next imagine that if as that black person or son of Mary Turner, you got past being afraid and terrified of white people, and it was finally safe to feel the rage you felt. If that was you, wouldn’t you look for a way to retaliate?

And my point?

The Great Stain from slavery, from the Black lynchings in this country that followed and from the myriad instances of police brutality, profiling by police and white citizenry (if you happened to wander into their neighborhood/store) has seared into the DNA of white people, especially white cops, a firmly help belief that you as a black male have to be angry at them. And whether or not you are, white cops project those feelings onto you and are convinced you feel them, because that is how they would feel if they were you.

Then realize that such white cops are not capable of realizing that they are projecting hostile feelings on you of how they would feel as you, but instead are looking for any signs that what they are projecting on you is true. We call that confirmation bias.

And so if a white cop sees any sign of frustration, or of not totally and humiliatingly capitulating to their will, they will say to themselves, “See I told me so, he’s upset and the next thing he’s going to do is get angry and then violent (because that is what I would do if I was upset).”

After projecting hostile feelings on you as a black person, not being able to recognize that they’re doing it, looking for signs to confirm their bias-forming projections, seeing frustration in you, thinking you will become violent, white cops then feel justified in preemptively using excessive force or pulling their gun as an act of self-protection (isn’t that what America did that got us into the never ending wars with Iraq and Afghanistan?).

Racism will not stop for long when you impose consequences for racist acts, because the underlying unconscious bias will still remain.

What needs to happen is in addition to stopping racist behavior, that white people with racist attitudes need to realize that they are projecting hostility onto blacks and in becoming aware of that they might nip their racism at their unconscious bias bud, before they project it.

There are a number of ways to accomplish this which if you will contact me, we can discuss.

One way is to have white police officers come up with scenarios where others are projecting feelings on them that they don’t have. One example is to ask police officers what it’s like to be told by a spouse that they don’t care about them or one of their children, when the reality is that you as a police officer show your caring by giving advice and solutions to your spouse or that child when they want something else, such as to be listened to.

Slavery and the black lynchings that followed still matter because they planted the seeds for the hostile feelings white people have been projecting onto black people and until white people realize this, unconscious bias and racism will continue.

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2 thoughts on “Why Slavery and Black Lynchings Still Matter”

  1. Mark says:

    Thank you for taking the time to read it and write back.

  2. Soukaina says:

    Interesting piece of writing.