You’re currently living in the year 2017, the 21st century. But if you checked the the news recently, you might be easily convinced that it’s 1920. Why? Here’s one reason: Someone left a noose at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
The noose was found on the floor near an exhibition on segregation on May 31. Given the history of lynchings of black men, women, and children in the United States, it’s safe to say that this was a blatant act of racist intimidation. Lonnie Bunch, the museum’s director, released a statement saying, “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.”
A statement from our Founding Director Lonnie Bunch on the noose found in our history galleries today. pic.twitter.com/sFWVSaobhV
— Smithsonian NMAAHC (@NMAAHC) May 31, 2017
Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be some isolated incident of some racist with an ax to grind. This was actually the second noose found in D.C. within five days. The first was seen hanging from a tree outside of the Hirshhorn Museum, a museum that celebrates modern and contemporary art. Both museums are Smithsonian institutions and are located on the National Mall.
There’s might be a tendency for some to wave this off as some troll trying to get attention. But whatever the intentions were, we can add these incidents to a growing list of disturbing acts of racist violence as of late: On May 31, the N-word was found spray painted on the gate of basketball player Lebron James‘ Los Angeles home. On May 27, two white men were stabbed to death on a train in Portland after trying to stop a white man from spewing anti-Muslim slurs at two young women. The FBI is currently investigating whether or not the May 20 stabbing death of a black college student in late May was a hate crime; his attacker was a member of white supremacist Facebook groups. On March 20, a white man travelled from Maryland to New York City with one goal in mind: Killing black men; unfortunately, he succeeded when he fatally stabbed an elderly black man.
If it feels like there’s an increase in hate crimes, your intuition is correct. The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization which tracks bigotry, says that hate acts have increased since the election of President Trump.
There are a lot of things to be afraid of these days, but it’s worth remembering that while sensationalist news stories, conservative pundits, and the Trump administration are emphasizing the dangers of Muslim extremism, the biggest threat to Americans actually comes from white, right-wing extremists.
What do you think can be done, if anything, to help quell the swell of bold, racist acts of hate? Tell us in the comments.