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Ethan Epstein

Quick question: why do you capitalize Black and not white? Simply curious. -- Ethan

Laurie Essig

Generally Black indicates of African origin (although often via other places) whereas white is a far more recent and highly contested configuration that includes the formerly non-white: Jews, Italians, Irish, etc- and is often negotiated and renegotiated to indicate those with racial status. Since it is not so much a geographic/racial identity- but a much more complicated and loosely strung together one- white is often left in the lower case. This is, of course, a minor point but one that is often followed as the "correct" use of white and Black.


I'd love to read your piece, but I am too much distracted by the use of the photo you picked up from Wiki. The photo is not an effigy of anyone. George Meadows was actually lynched. I suspect you included the photo for its shock value. But Ms Laurie IMHO it is not respectful of the human being pictured there. No, I don't know where to draw the line -- what pictures can be shown, which pictures can't. Just wanted to express my feeling this time.


After I wrote my comment, I finally was able to read. Of course, I agree with your opinions expressed here. Thank you for writing them.

Laurie Essig

I didn't pick it for shock value but because I was trying to connect real violence to symbolic- but on second thought- something else might have been better. It does seem a bit disrespectful in hindsight. I'll try to find something else.


Maybe I am a racist douchebag, but I find it pretty hard to take this kind of symbolic violence seriously. More than anything it is symbolic of a volkisch nostalgia for a time when being a "decent godfearing white man" (read: shitforbrains dirtfarmer) meant you at least were not a slave. A pathetic compensatory fantasy, cherished by vaguely disgruntled peons.


You are very kind to have taken this point to heart. Thank you.


I appreciate the concern Rocky raises here. Although the photo was not used gratuitously or, like so much violence is used these days--as casual entertainment, such images have a tendency to dullen rather than sharpen our sensitivity by making it all seem normal.
The replacement picture is far more germane to the essay, and, though less graphic, even more horrifying. Ironically, I think the victims would be grateful that these photos serve as their testaments against discrimination.


"The other truth is that many white Americans will pretend that such acts have nothing to do with them, but are instead isolated in pockets of ignorance and racism in the rural South. Nothing could be further from the truth."

Odd--I could have sworn that such atrocities horrify and sadden me, and that my first comment, upon seeing a circa-1929 lynching photo, was "Oh, my God." But, now that I know I'm in denial, I'll have to search my memory banks for the last time I cheered an act of violence against blacks or gays. Or when I last joined a cheering crowd of racists. So far, nothing's coming up, but denial ain't just a backlot stream in Hollywood.


Ahhhh, let me guess--you're on the left, no?

We have such a talent for speaking pro-populist talk, we gold-for-brain lefties.

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