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NY Times White-Washed Coverage of Lynching Report Demonstrates How Uncomfortable Mainstream Media Is In Confronting History of White Terrorism

Duluth-lynching-postcardIn the aftermath of a devastating report on the long ugly history of lynchings in America, the New York Times is being blasted on social media for a suspiciously dubious “achievement”: the so-called “Paper of Record” managed to write a lengthy piece on the history of lynchings without ever saying who was doing the lynching.

As many users pointed out on Twitter, the piece written by Campbell Robertson only mentioned the word “white” on two occasions—when she  described the alleged victims of likely fabricated indiscretions by Black men who were subsequently lynched. In the first case, it was a three-year-old white girl who was allegedly sexually assaulted in Dallas that led “a group of men” to rush into the courthouse in 1910 and throw a rope around him while “a mob” yanked him from the window.

In the second case, three Black men were accused of killing a white woman and “were castrated, stabbed, beaten, tied to a plow and set afire in the spring of 1922,” all under the “gaze of hundreds of soda-drinking spectators.”

Not once did Robertson bother to tell the reader that the “group of men,” that the “mob,” that the “soda-drinking spectators” were white. It’s almost as if the always cautious Times was not completely sure of who committed the lynchings and was waiting for officials to come along from 1910 and 1922 and confirm their racial identity.

In addition, though the incredibly detailed report by the Montgomery, Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative used the words “white terrorism” over and over to describe the effect of the lynchings on America and the Black community, the Times went out of its way to avoid that language, instead calling them “racial terror lynchings.”

The word “white” was used so many times in the report by the EJI that the Times had to avoid using any passages from the report in order to achieve the dubious distinction.

The white-washed nature of the Times coverage is a perfect illustration of the discomfort the American mainstream media has in honestly confronting the nation’s ugly racial history. FOr instance, when media commentators went after President Obama for pointing out how Christianity has been used to justify some ugly acts throughout history, such as the Crusades, slavery and Jim Crow, they all jumped on his use of the Crusades while leaving slavery and Jim Crow untouched.

In its chilling report, called “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror,” the EJI certainly doesn’t avoid assigning the title of terrorist to the white mobs that committed unspeakable acts against Black people through the early 20th century.

The EJI defines lynchings as acts of terrorism “because these murders were carried out with impunity, sometimes in broad daylight, often ‘on the courthouse lawn,’” according to the report. “These lynchings were not ‘frontier justice,’ because they generally took place in communities where there was a functioning criminal justice system that was deemed too good for African Americans. Terror lynchings were horrific acts of violence whose perpetrators were never held accountable. Indeed, some ‘public spectacle lynchings’ were attended by the entire white community and conducted as celebratory acts of racial control and domination.”

The EJI said there were 3,959 Black people lynched in the United States between 1877 and 1950—a number that is 700 more than previously known—and Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana had more lynchings than any other state in the country.

The report ties lynching to a broader picture of white social control, showing how lynchings affected African-American migration patterns, effectively turning many Southern communities from predominantly Black to overwhelmingly white virtually overnight and sending millions of Black people to the cities of the North to escape this terrorism. It is a significantly more nuanced view of how whites used lynching to serve particular purposes—and how lynchings were a seldom-discussed driver of the Great Migration of Black people to the North.

“Lynching—and other forms of racial terrorism—inflicted deep traumatic and psychological wounds on survivors, witnesses, family members, and the entire African-American community,” the report said. “Whites who participated in or witnessed gruesome lynchings and socialized their children in this culture of violence also were psychologically damaged. And state officials’ indifference to and complicity in lynchings created enduring national and institutional wounds that we have not yet confronted or begun to heal.”

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14 thoughts on “NY Times White-Washed Coverage of Lynching Report Demonstrates How Uncomfortable Mainstream Media Is In Confronting History of White Terrorism

  1. Hank Wilson says:

    100% terrorism for sure, it is.

  2. This critique is almost perfect except for one thing and that is as usual when men are writing the story of terrorism they only speak of other men meanwhile the horror story of lynchings and gang rapes on Black women aren't mentioned. Women were lynched right up there with the men and usually after all the horrors of gang raping. Accounts of the gang rapes that happened to us are usually told by White women like Gerder Lerner in "Black Women in White America" where the Congressional accounts of what our female ancestors endured were what gang bang porn movies are made of today. Accompanying this are horrific accounts of our black men running from the potential lynching and leaving the women to endure the rapes as though that's our duty.
    Nick Chiles, you bet your behind the story has yet to be told about this but I come here to hip you to the fact that you men had better open up your minds' visual eye to the horrors of rape that's in our DNA and tell the story and now allow divisions to b e used as a tool. EVERY SINGLE WHERE I see these protests all I ever hear about are the MEN. ALLL the time, the men. Over and over the horrors against the men. Best you take a look at the numbers of women who outnumber you men and who are getting sick and tired of being sick and tired of always defending the men yet where are they hollering and screaming when we're killed by the cops.One would think that this didn't happen and that's a dangerous thing to happen.
    It's okay for us to be the foot soldiers and holler for you men but we should just silently endure the horrors of then and now while the men go about with the impression that we're living on easy street in terms of abuse huh? All the babies our ancestors had to carry, all the unspoken horrors of the sexual assaults yet not one word about the fact that porn videos many brothers watch today is a carry over of what our ancestors endured for hundreds of years.
    I don't want to hear about the white women's rapes and see them jump into the story and start talking about us all being victims and singing Kumbaya when these White women know they have white male ancestors who sat down to their dinner tables, walked them down the aisle, were their fathers, sons, brothers, nephews and so on and who walked into their homes after nights of gang raping our female ancestors and they won't name names or tell their stories. How could they want to be around them after all the terror of raping us, after raping women like Recy Taylor because of course we can ONLY talk about Emmit Till right?
    I dare you and your and your well awarded counterparts to open up your Pulitzer prize winning mouth about what the Black women endured in this mess and admonish Black men for hollering about the injustice they endure at the hands of the police yet they say nothing of what the women go through and they do this with a white woman on their arm.
    Another thing, when you see documentaries like "Slavery By Another Name" do you notice there are female victims who were about 10% of the victims. Do you notice there's not a mention of what happened to them? See, this is where your Pultizer prize winning types need to get indignant about. Once again, another MAN tells the story and of course the Black women are left out yet I'll be they endured horrors. I wonder if they were made to breed more prisoners?
    I may very well be talking to the cyberspace air about this but if anyone can see any point in this, especially the sisters, I say it's time to collectively open up our minds to the fact the globally we'll have to really defend ourselves and not only envision the strength of Harriet Tubman and her rifle beside her, Stagecoach Mary, and Yaa Assenteewa in the war of the Golden Stool but also Efunroyo Tinubu in Nigeria who fought the Arab slave trade it's time for not only Black men to be equally as outraged over the violence against the men as well as the women but also those for the global sisters our there to physically stand up for ourselves and invoke the image of the Boko Haram types (no matter if they are are a CIA invention or not) with a photo of the 1934 Howard University women's gun club and all those smiling women sitting up with their rifles ever so proud.
    One of the most empowering personal accounts ever told to me was while visiting family friends in a very white part of New Jersey where an Indiana native told me that hes Grand Uncle killed 7 klansmen with pleasure and left ONE alive so that he could run back and tell the tale!
    Finally, it's interesting that the NY Times can look at the south and yet can't look at the racial terror that occurred in the shadows of it's current physical headquarters on 8th avenue. We weren't always in Harlem and you can best bet wherever we were in this city we have endured 390 years of racial terror as we built this city for free. So easy to speak of lynching in the south but not on Fifth Avenue, or Maiden Lane, or Battery Park and so forth. For this I shall write my own article.
    I hope to hear more from you and your marvelous site Mr. Chiles. I tell many about this site every chance I get.

  3. Debra Wells says:

    Deborah, you told nothing but the truth, and the whole truth, in your comment. The Black woman has been decidely overlooked on every discussion that invokes the terrorism and violence towards Blacks, in this country! And I am also sick of it! We are one of the most unprotected class of women, ever and so called "Women's Lib" never applied to us anyway; that eas between the white woman and the white man, as we were always too busy and preoccupied with the way we were being mistreated for being Black!

  4. Incredible story and of course the powers are going to walk on egg shells around this because knowing that lynchings continued well into the 50's I'm sure there are still plenty of people still alive that took part in or wittnessed these horrible acts.

  5. This is nothing new. White racism will contiune to act in a manner that is predictable when its confronted by the ugly truths of its passed deeds. And for those among us who are so naive as to think, racism is pass, this brings out the glaring obvious truth of just how much hasn't changed.

  6. You left out no details Deborah Martin! Thank you for speaking the truth and so eloquently at that!

  7. Hank Wilson says:

    Yes ma'am, you're 100% correct. And most likely it's done intentionally, by us brothers, that we just can not openly discussed it. I am not an expert in that part of our history. Anyways, one thing for sure, you knows how to put a brother between a rock and hard spot. I will even admit being uncomfortable replying to your post concerning the unimaginable pain that African women had to endure for over four hundred years. Just remember that a man's mind and a female's mind are not the same.

  8. Spoken as a true queen. I have always thought the same thing. We know only a fraction of the atrocities done to the African in America. I always thought of the women and girls and the hardship they had to go through. The brutality and rape. It's so sad. The reason they won't show it so much is because they can stomach and even try to justify the brutality that was done to African men In America but if they were to show what was done to the women the truth will really show who the savages were. It's so much harder to face an inexcusable rape and gang rape of women and little girls. It would show the monstrosity of the white men who did so and hypocrisy of the white wives and women who let them do so. History is so crazy and sick at times. Only Jehovah's kingdom can heal and do away with such violence and evil.

  9. Moore Love says:

    Deborah Martin, thank you for the knowledge you've shared with us. You made us remember things we'd much rather forget but the Ankhcestor led you wisely and rightly to address the cowardly behaviour of many of our men who even today are still behaving like cowards. Those Afrikans (men/women) who cohabit with Europeans would have us forget this unglorious pass and the role of the Beastly European men whose women were quietly complicit in their gang rape of Afrikan men, women and children – this is their way of avoiding the horrible truth of what actually happened. Afrikans, Europeans or Negropeans cannot wish these atrocities away and Europeans can say sorry til they're blue in the face but sorry is not enough. We and our Ankhcestors demand much more than apologies. Only those Afrikans who are not compromised are in a position to determine what "recompense" is appropriate for the brutality our Ankhcestors subjected to and what their offsprings continue to suffer in this 21st century.

  10. Valid point but is there any doubt that these were white people? That is so obvious that it shouldn't have to be said but the reality is that our brains don't always recognize or internalize the obvious.

  11. The numbers posted anytime something of this sort should be always recalculated for the truth between the lines. Reports usually record 10% of the total number of truth. Take that number and double it for the atrocity towards Black or women of color. I believe lynchings still happen anytime I hear of suicide to a black male or female, I always take it with a grain of salt unless it's 100% evident that someone would take their life.

  12. the media has not changed. in the 1890s it was Atlantic Monthly that published the racist, THE NEGRO PROBLEM, propaganda of white supremacists that was used to feed the fear and hate of northern whites toward blacks migrating north. the white supremacist movement used these lynchings as "proof" that blacks were born criminals, including the lynchings in crime statistics. White supremacists promoted the belief that "educating blacks makes them more dangerous". Crime in white immigrant communities was rampant, but only black americans were labeled as inherently evil and criminal. Crime was used to justify the racial discrimination that denied black americans access to the government and community funded affirmative action and social programs that provided education, housing, jobs, medical and police protection to white immigrants. it is these programs that allowed white immigrants and poor white americans to rise out of poverty and forced white criminals out of the white ghettos into black ghettos. Police turned a blind eye to crimes committed against law abiding blacks. White immigrants forced black americans out of jobs. it is these inequities that created the black/white wealth gap and the biased criminal justice system that exists today. REFERENCES; Nathaniel S. Shaler, The Negro Problem, Atlantic Monthly 54 (1884 ): 709 Science and the African Problem, Atlantic Monthly 66 (July 1890 );268; European Peasants as Immigrants,†Atlantic Monthly 71 (May 1893): 646-655; W. E. B. Du Bois, Strivings of the Negro People, The Atlantic Monthly, August 1897.

  13. in the 1890s it was Atlantic Monthly that published the racist, THE NEGRO PROBLEM, propaganda of white supremacists that was used to feed the fear and hate of northern whites toward blacks migrating north.

  14. It amazes me that after 400 years of being in the USA, black folks still act brand new. If they bothered to read the history of the USA, racism is not an anomaly, the system is made that way for a reason. Michelle Alexander, Dr Joy Leary, Tim Wise do excellent jobs of showing us how today is not much different than yesterday.

    But every newstory, every cop killing, every national statistic comes as some surprise to black folks that we are not part of the american fabric. We know we are part, better yet, we are the thread.

    But as I read a quote from Facebook some months back, "People love to imitate black folks, but they hate us".

    One day, we have to wake up and realize we have to stop being their pets. We wont be liked, but we will finally be respected. We are too worried about being liked and accepted by a people that have shown us nothing but hatred and malice.

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