A lynching in 2018

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - 9:23pm

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Michelle Fan/Daily

I saw this tweet today.

“a young Black man was LYNCHED. yes, in America. yes, in 2018. yes, for real. no, it wasn’t covered by the media. no, it’s not trending on Twitter. no, it wasn’t an accident. SAY HIS NAME: DANYE JONES. SAY HIS NAME: DANYE JONES. SAY HIS NAME: DANYE JONES.”

I’m struggling to put into words or writing what I think about this. The words, along with the image that I didn’t see of Danye’s body, float around in my mind. I am unable to grasp any of them. Danye Jones, the son of a prominent Black activist in Ferguson, Mo., was found hanging from a tree in his mother’s backyard. I am both surprised and not surprised that something as horrible as this has happened. Just the other day two Black people were shot in a grocery store, just because they were Black. The killer said to a white man who stood up to him that he didn’t have to worry about getting killed because “whites don’t kill whites.” What?

So now I have one more thing to think about when I’m in a public space and white people are present.

Am I just a person, or am I a target that day?

Now, I have a lynching to add into my internal list of reasons to feel uneasy in public. I thought … I don’t know what I thought.

I just never thought I’d read about someone being lynched today. That’s a piece of news that I never thought would be current in my lifetime. However, a small part of me feared something like this could happen after the 2016 presidential election, but a bigger part of me thought things could never get this bad.

At the people who voted for Donald Trump: Yes, I’m still mad at you. Why? Because you gave someone power who didn’t need it. His power and support of white supremacists has brought these people into the light in a way where they don’t feel exposed, they just feel accepted and empowered. Instead of allowing them to be the ones with fear, you have brought new fears to me. On some days it feels silly to even worry about how my race may affect my safety; yet on others, it’s a prominent thought.

Do you, Trump Voter, ever have to experience any days like this? My guess is no. What are the reasons people gave to explain why you guys voted that way? You were poor??? That was your reason for letting this happen? Self-interest? Oh wait, no — maybe you weren’t poor. Maybe you were in business, and despite literally any single negative fact about Trump, you thought voting for him was a good decision. You rejoiced at the end of the night during the 2016 election when your man, your white supremacist, your sexist, your rapist in chief, Donald J. Trump, won the 2016 election.

But what exactly did you think it would lead to?

Did you think it would lead to a lynching?

I did.

“Oh but that’s ridiculous, there’s checks and balances for this kind of thing. You don’t need to worry. He won’t get out of hand.” Is that really true? What about the people who feel empowered by him? Who’s keeping any of those people in check? Does it matter to you, Trump Voter, what I’m going through? What any person in the United States who is not a Brad or Chad is going through? Does it matter to you, 53 percent of white women who voted for Trump, the news I read today about Danye Jones’ lynching? Your identity as women will come with oppression, but your whiteness brings a relative sense of security that I don’t have. What do you think about when you hear that information? A part of me sinks every time I hear about another Black person being killed in the news. There are times when I have to take a break from the news because I can’t keep seeing over and over that no matter how many times we insist that it does, my life does not matter.

But how do you react? Do you care?

Do you revel in this information, appearing to care online yet silently smiling to yourself when you read the headlines? Do you outwardly proclaim your hate for anyone who isn’t white? Are you happy? Was it worth this? Was protecting … essentially nothing, honestly, more important than Danye Jones’ life? To you it was. And you are to blame. Did you hang anyone? No.

But you did.