Â Race, Sex and Social Media
The most powerful southern racist narrative involves swarthy and virile black men, slaves originally, having their way with lily white belles while the master is out.
The chaste and pure mistress succumbs to the animal passions of her ebony attacker and it is left to white men to redeem her virtue by an act of violence.
(The truth is sometimes the opposite: the white slave owner was far more likely to be “making little Jeffersons” with his female slaves be they willing or no.)
Redemption by lynching was the preferred method but shooting and torture would do in a pinch.
The myth was so powerful in southern culture that blacks accused of looking at or flirting with white women could be murdered with impunity.
Emmett Till, 14 years old in 1955, was beaten, had an eye gouged out and was shot in the head for allegedly engaging in such flirting while on a trip to Mississippi.
In 1956, Till’s killers said, “I like niggersâ€”in their placeâ€”I know how to work ’em. But I just decided it was time a few people got put on notice.” Â
(That was 90 years after the end of slavery.)
Ms. Strickland, a Norfolk Virginia assistant principal, apparently re-tweeted a “a photo of high school couples posing for a prom photo: Each of the girls were white, and all of the guys were black.”
The photoâ€™s caption read, â€œEvery white girlâ€™s fatherâ€™s worst nightmare Or Nah?â€, according to the Daily News.
Couldn’t she at least come up with her own material?
It may be that in the minds of some passing along garbage rather than actually making it is somehow less odious.
The tweet is a 21st century freshening up of a 19th century myth replete with a patriarchal reference where elder white men are panicked at the sight of white women in the arms of black men.
That it came from an educator working at a school namedÂ Booker T. WashingtonÂ is profoundly disturbing.
Booker Taliaferro Washington
Booker Washington was America’s preeminent black leader during the very period when lynchings were at their peak.
He is a founder of the Civil Rights movement.
He was criticized for his apparent moderation in the fight over segregation in the post-reconstruction era when blacks were still little more than slaves.
Washington was born a slave and went on to lead the prestigious Tuskegee Institute.
Would Washington be surprised at how durable racism is?
The Real Legacy
We like to think that we live in a “post racial” society but that’s a myth too.
If ignorant adults want to call each other names on their off hours that’s ok but sending negative messages to our youth is just plain hateful.
Micheal Lemelle, a young student at Washington, said:
“Me being a young African-American, I don’t think of myself as anyone’s worst nightmare.”Â
Ms. Strickland is being paid to create future Booker T. Washingtons.
That won’t happen until she stops treating young people as Emmett Tills in word if not in deed.