NMAAHC and LeBron James Targeted by Anti-Black Hatred

[Content Note: White supremacist, anti-Black imagery and language.]

Yesterday afternoon, tourists at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) found a noose in an exhibit on segregation.
"The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity—a symbol of extreme violence for African Americans. Today's incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face," wrote Lonnie Bunch, the director of the museum, in an e-mail to staff.

The disturbing incident comes only four days after a noose was found hanging from a tree outside the Hirshhorn Museum.

...These ominous reminders of America's dark history with lynching have appeared around the country, from a school in Missouri to a series of four nooses hung around a construction site in Maryland. Other nooses have been found on the Duke University campus, the Port of Oakland in California, a fraternity house at the University of Maryland, a middle school in Maryland, and at a high school in Lakewood, California.

All of them seem to be part of a larger wave of violence, intimidation and hate crimes. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, more than 1,300 hate incidents were reported between the 2016 election and February 2017. Of those 1,300, anti-immigrant incidents have been the most prevalent, followed by anti-black.
Also yesterday, professional basketball player LeBron James' Los Angeles home was vandalized by someone who spray-painted the N-word on the front gate. The LAPD is investigating it as a potential hate crime. James made this statement, visibly shaken:

As I sit here on the eve of one of the greatest sporting events that we have in sports, you know, race and what's going on comes again, and on my behalf and my family's behalf. But I mean, I look at it as, if this is to shed a light and continuing to keep the conversation going on my behalf then I'm okay with it. My family is safe; they're safe and that's the most important.

But it just goes to show that racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America. You know, hate in America, especially for African-Americans, is living every day. Even though that it's concealed most of the time, you know, people hide they faces and will say things about you; when they see you, they smile in your face. It's alive every single day.

And I think back to Emmett Till's mom, actually. That's kinda one of the first things I thought of. [chuckles mirthlessly] And the reason that she had an open casket is 'cause she wanted to show the world what her son went through as far as a hate crime, and, you know, being Black in America.

No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being Black in America is—is tough. And we've gotta long way to go, for us as a society—and for us as African Americans, until we feel equal in America.

And, you know, but. My family is safe, and, you know, that's what—that's what important.
Many people have complimented James on the quality of his statement, which is very fine indeed. (No surprise, since James has always seemed an eminently decent and thoughtful guy.) But I'm just incredibly angry that he was obliged to make a statement at all by a hateful person committing a disgusting act of racism against him and his family. And I'm concerned about the tone policing inherent in complimenting him for being measured and profound in such a terrible moment. Is there room for him to express anger, if he wanted to? I'm not sure that there is, and that's a problem.

The aggressive escalation of visible white supremacist acts is intolerable. Donald Trump ran a campaign stoking racist resentments, and his election has empowered and normalized violent expression of that hatred. I don't believe we've even begun to truly reckon with the scope of what he's unleashed.

We all need to be angry about that, and we need to make space for the people who are the targets of this rank bigotry to express an entire spectrum of emotion about it, including anger, too.

I take up space in solidarity with James, his family, his community, the staff and visitors at the NMAAHC, and every Black American who feels less safe today because of these crimes.

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