Have you ever watched a lynching?
Imagine what that must have been like. Men and women, dressed in their Sunday best, with children in tow. A black man, accused of some crime; no jury, no trial no semblance of justice. Cheers as they string a noose around his neck. The scent of charred flesh as they set fire to his dangling body. The sound of gunfire as they shoot hundreds of rounds of bullets into his dead body. Fingers, toes, and other pieces of flesh, cut from his corpse to keep as souvenirs. And the photos taken, that will later be turned into postcards.
You may say to yourself: I would never watch such a thing.
I say to you: you already have.
Black Americans have always been strange fruit.
We watched Eric Garner choked to death as he gasped over and over “I can’t breathe.”
We watched Tamir Rice gunned down two seconds after a police car screeched up to him.
We watched Philandro Castile bleed to death on Facebook live.
And now we’ve watched the justification for why he was pulled over: his broad nose. We watched him comply with politeness. We watched an officer of the law shoot seven times into a car. We’ve seen a four-year-old child who’d just seen her father killed give comfort to a grieving mother in the back of a police car in the direct aftermath of the shooting.
And we watched his killer go free.
We’ve lost track of the names. We’ve grown hoarse from screams for justice. We’ve quietly demonstrated excellence. We’ve quietly taken a knee. We’ve watched America become an economic superpower on the stolen land of brown people and the stolen labor of black people. And yet we stay, dying in the streets, at the hands of those sworn to protect us, vilified for our own deaths.
You think you haven’t watched a lynching? As Samantha Kellie-Ann Black says: black Americans have always been strange fruit. The trees have changed over the years, but the hanging remains.
ARE YOU TIRED OF WATCHING YET?