The noose re-emerges as a symbol of racial unrest

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In the past six months, theGrio has reported on several stories where a noose was used as a tool to intimidate African-Americans at their place of business, on school campuses and in other public spaces. The noose, a symbol that carries with it decades of terror and intimidation, was used to murder blacks during slavery, Reconstruction and into the era of the Jim Crow south. The resurgence of the hanging rope as way to express one’s racist beliefs is something that one might not have expected in 2012.

Earlier this week, we reported on story in Alabama where a noose was found at Brown’s Ferry Nuclear Plant. This is not the first incident at the Tennessee Valley Authority. The federally owned corporation that operates the Alabama power plant has had similar problems with racial tension at several of their plants. The company has reported four other incidents where a noose was found hanging near or at a TVA facility.

Another act of workplace intimidation involving a noose occurred at a Turbo Machinery plant in New Jersey, where a group of African-American employees are suing the company after a noose was found hanging from a curtain rod in the employee locker room.

Last November, in Salem, Virginia a contract employee at the Department of Transportation walked into his supervisor’s office to find a noose hanging behind his supervisor’s desk. The man said he felt threatened by it. He asked why the noose was hanging there in plain sight and wasn’t given a reasonable explanation. Just a few weeks later he saw another noose hanging on the wall in a second supervisor’s office. At that point, Smith decided to let end his contract with VDOT.

In January of this year we reported on a story in New York City where a Parks and Recreation employee was arrested for hanging a black baby doll from a chain fashioned into a noose.

The reappearance of the noose as a symbol tool express racial discord is disturbing, to say the least. The social and cultural changes that have taken place in the U.S. in the past few years seem to have rekindled the desire for some to express their self-appointed supremacy and degrade people of color by hanging a noose in a public space or in the work place.

These days, expressing supremacy through fear, intimidation and threats do little more than lead to a multitude of lawsuits. The quick response by companies where this behavior has occurred clearly shows that these tactics are less intimidating than they were in the past, and can often be more damaging for the perpetrators.

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