Tag Archives: lynching

Violence and Local Memory: Effects on the Middle

By Amy Kate Bailey

Framing black men as violent and predatory has been a constant in American race relations.  During the lynching era, this characterization was typically rooted in assertions of genetic difference between the races, and these stereotypes were used to justify many lynchings.  Tropes such as the “black brute” or “dark fiend” were repeatedly invoked in public discourse, particularly the Southern media.  The cry to “protect our women” propelled many to join the white supremacist organizations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  To be perfectly clear, lynching was a relatively rare event, with most Southern counties experiencing no lynchings, or only a single lynching, across the entire half century many scholars acknowledge as the “lynching era.”  The practice of lynching itself was abhorred by many white Americans, while they simultaneously joined supremacist groups and evinced faith in the threat that black people (men, in particular) posed to the white community.  Lynching culture was widely diffused within American society—both North and South.  Lynching events occurred within local communities.  This duality of the extremist behavior of a few married with cultural and institutional practices that brutalize specific black bodies, and the black community at large, continues to mark American society. Continue reading

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Racist and Racial Justice Movements