This picture is disturbing for so many reasons, one of which is the fact that I recognize that neighborhood, because I used to live there. My dad served in the Army for 20 years, and we were stationed at Fort Campbell twice during that time. I lived in a house that looked just like the one in the background there, because all the houses in Pierce Village looked like that. Fortunately, I never witnessed a scene anything like the horrors being depicted in that photo. I remember people going all out for Halloween and turning their yards into spooky graveyards with zombies digging out of makeshift graves and giant spiders lurking in the trees. That’s what Halloween is about, creepy other-worldly things that frighten us, not historical events used to force minorities into a life of fear and oppression. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the lynching of black families is definitely scary, but not “spooky fun time Halloween” scary. It’s more like that “humanity can be really ugly and the history of America sort of makes me want to leave this world” kind of scary.
Fort Campbell is situated right on the Tennessee border, but technically considered to be within Kentucky state lines. The nice thing about military bases is that they tend to be pretty culturally diverse. Fort Campbell is like the hodgepodge of meats sandwiched between two conservative pieces of (very) white bread; it’s a little melting pot in the middle of a couple Civil War sore losers. So considering the area, it’s really crazy that this insensitive display of blatant racism happened on an Army base that houses a large array of ethnicities. According to the spokesperson for Public Affairs at Fort Campbell, the family responsible for the graphic yard display removed it upon request, and claims it was never meant to offend anyone. Right. Because why would a depiction of a black family hanging from a tree offend anyone? The fact that anyone would even try to convince people that it isn’t racist is an insult to common sense.
As with any media coverage surrounding social inequality issues, the Internet is a-buzz with the frenzy of race deniers and apologists. Comments range from the classic, “Not everything is about race,” to the more specific, “The family who did this is actually biracial so it can’t be racist.” The thing is, not everything is about race, but a lot things are, and if you’re not on the receiving end of racism, it’s easy to act like it doesn’t happen, because it doesn’t happen to YOU. That’s all well and good if you want to be a willfully ignorant imbecile your whole life, but if not then you should put some work into pulling your head out of your pasty white butt. As for the whole “biracial” thing, it appears to be nothing more than a rumor, but I will solve that mystery for you just as well. Can a biracial person partake in racism against their own race (or portion of it)? Yes. Absolutely. Why is this even a question? Can a black person perpetuate racism against black people? Of course! So, it doesn’t matter what sort of Uncle Tom-foolery went into this “Halloween display,” it is a haunting effigy of racially driven lynching, plain and simple. No amount of excuses can change that, but addressing it and working together can change the social climate of our country. Ending racism is not going to happen overnight, but acting as if it has already ended is only hindering the progress.