‘Lynching’ is Not a Term to Throw Around. Educate Yourself.

4 mins read
Original: Mary GarrityRestored by Adam Cuerden [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I want you all to read “Lynch Law” by Ida B. Wells, the Black woman activist who forced America to reckon with her own racial terror, to understand why lynching is not a term to toss haphazardly.

Read Equal Justice Initiative’s site “Lynching in America,” so you can wrap your mind around the pure domestic racial terror that Black Americans endured well after slavery.

Understand that even daring to *talk* about lynchings would get your office burned down, you’d be threatened with lynching, and run out of town. This is what happened to Ida B. Wells in Memphis.

My maternal grandfather saw his brother, my Great Uncle Charlie, for the last time as a teenager.

Why? Because someone merely accused him of dating a white woman and he knew they’d lynch him. He had to leave Alabama.

The sheer audacity of that man to intimate the word and the horror of lynching to defend him being merely held accountable is more evidence of the sense entitlement this country has awarded him, time and again, throughout his life.

Then, for his spineless henchmen like Newt Gingrich to defend his use of such language is an extension of white supremacy and privilege that no one should be ok with.

NONE of us should be ok with.

Just like that confederate flag souvenir bag I had to see yesterday on my flight, this is what happens when we do not properly reckon with our past, place it in the container of shame in which it belongs, and teach it thoroughly and truthfully to everyone.

This is what happens when we allow white supremacist systems to be perpetuated for the sake of preserving the comfort of the very people who sustain and benefit from those systems.

When we let them make us into cowards. We can not abide it.

No-we’re not making too big a deal of this. No-we’re not overreacting.

This kind of language and entitled behavior is merely evidence of the virus we know exists, at the heart of it all: white supremacy and anti-Blackness.

And treating these moments casually helps open the door for more. If you can invalidate the importance of this on today, you can invalidate the terror tomorrow.

Too many of you already do.

Too many of you expect a hug after we endure this trauma. Too many of you demand we shut up about our pain. Too many of you make excuses for this reality. Too many of you casually refer to our terror, just like your president, who you *swear* doesn’t speak for you.


Freedom is not a game. We can’t take it seriously enough.

Donald Trump asked Black America “what do we have to lose?” by electing him.

Every time he opens his mouth, he answers for us.


Originally posted as a Twitter thread. Re-posted with permission.

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Brittany Packnett Cunningham is a leader at the intersection of culture and justice. Cited by President Barack Obama as a leader whose "voice is going to be making a difference for years to come," Brittany is an unapologetic educator, organizer, and writer. She is the author of the forthcoming book, We Are Like Those Who Dream, with One World.
A former teacher, policy expert, and non-profit executive director, Brittany has committed her life and career to justice. She currently plays many roles, all focused on freedom.
Brittany was a Fall 2018 Fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics. She was a Ferguson protestor and continues in activism as, among other things, co-founder of Campaign Zero, a policy platform to end police violence. She is a to the Crooked Media network, and co-host of Pod Save The People, which earned the team two 2018 Webby Awards for Best News Podcast. Brittany was a Video Columnist for Mic News, and currently writes a column for Teen Vogue called, “Listen Up!”
Brittany was an appointed member of the Ferguson Commission and President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Today, she continues to advocate for urgent systemic change at critical decision making tables and through national and international media.
Brittany is an alum of Washington University in St. Louis, American University in Washington, and the Pahara-Aspen Institute Education fellow. She is a proud board member of the Gucci Changemakers Council, Rise To Run, Erase The Hate, NBCUniversal's Emmy-Winning initiative to rid the world of discrimination.
Ultimately, Brittany is a proud Black woman who believes that freedom is within our grasp- as long as we unleash love, and build our power, because “power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice.” (MLK)

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