Is the word "Lynching" primarily a racial statement.

Reflecting on the recent Al Sharpton crusade discussed Here, and watching it being covered on CNN a couple of days ago, I was surprised to learn that the Reverend Sharpton and others considered the word “lynching” to be primarily a racial thing. Whenever I hear the word “lynching”, I generally think of an old american west context. Granted, being a Wyoming boy, born and raised, I was taught about the “Lynching of Cattle Kate” in school. I always thought lynching was a racially nuetral term for a hanging without judicial sanction.

So dopers, does “lynching” neccesarily conjure up racial issues for you? Why do you think so? Is there another term that doesn’t imply racism?

Also, the automatic association between lynching and racism seems new to me. Of course, being a reasonably educated American, I know about the tragic lynching of African-Americans, primarily in the American South. But is the association between “lynching” = black victim is something I never really heard until recently. Am I just out of touch, or is it a post Jenna 6 issue?

It’s a racially neutral term for me, although it certainly can have racial overtones in certain contexts. I’m a an avid golf fan, and I’m pretty familiar with Kelly Tilghman, and I don’t see a racial overtone in the context of her remark.

I was thinking the same thing reading through the Pit thread: isn’t assuming that “lynching” means “black” actually rather racist in its own right?

For me, “lynching” connotes West, cowboys and rope and vigilante justice.

Are you genuinely asking this? Because you already know the definition of lynching (well, almost - it doesn’t have to involve a hanging. Just any mob extra-judicial execution. (or maybe even the mob part isn’t necessary)), and that it’s completely race neutral, so what’s the point of even entertaining any question of it?

Well, obviously, anyone can be lynched. But in this country, the majority of lynchings were carried out against blacks during the Jim Crow era, and it was done as a systematic method of terror. When the Dyer bill was introduced into Congress, it wasn’t to protect the rights of suspected cattle rustlers.

Because it’s an additional bit of evidence (as if we needed any) that Al Sharpton is a loon?

Or maybe because we feel like this woman shouldn’t have been suspended for using a racial term when she didn’t?

Or maybe because it’s Friday, and there’s been no Brittney news for 10 whole minutes and we need something else to post about.

Prob’ly some combination of the above.

No. I can’t think of any way that’s racist. Inacurrate, maybe, but I’d say that’s it.

I do associate the word “lynching” with hangings in the Jim Crow South, but I wouldn’t say the term itself is racial on its own. But context is everything, and if the anchor hadn’t been talking about a black man (or rather a Cablinasian man), it wouldn’t have been a big deal.

People lately seem to think that hanging in general is a racial thing, as evidenced by the NAACP protesting Halloween decorations the past few years that have hanging monsters in them. (Google NAACP hanging Halloween for references)

IMHO, unless there’s some other factor, neither a Halloween hanging decoration nor using the word ‘lynch’ is necessarily a racial reference, and it seems like a lot of people are vastly over-sensitive or really, really looking hard for racism.

No-one reasonable would hesitate to apply it to the murder of Leo Frank so, no, lynching is not a racial term.

Thanks to a steady diet of westerns like Hang 'Em High, The Oxbow Incident , and commercials for Pace Picante sauce I also tend to associate lynching within the context of the mythic American Old West.

I most associate lynching with hanging but you don’t have to hang someone to lynch them. Lynching requires a minimum of four people, one victim plus three perpetrators, is extra-legal, and it is a public event. There is no requirement that one hang another person to lynch them. For example in March of 1904 in Saint Charles, Arkansas over the corse of a week or so about 11-14 African Americans were lynched by whites with most of them being shot to death.

Between 1882-1930 there were 2,500 blacks lynched in the 10 southern states. The majority of those were done by whites though I know there were a few cases were blacks lynched other blacks. The vast majority of lynching was done by whites against blacks however. I don’t know of any instance where blacks lynched whites in the United States but if someone else has some information I’d love to hear about it.


Sources: Under Sentence of Death: Lynching in the South

“Specters in the Past: The Saint Charles, Arkansas, Lynching of 1904 and the Limits of Historical Inquiry” The Journal of Southern History Volume LXV, No. 3 August 1999. by Vincent Vinikas

No and neither is shuck and jive, although the latter is used mainly by black.

::checks watch::
Is it 1972 again?

“Lynch Law” - An American Community Enigma.

It does conjure racial associations for me, just as “internment camp” makes me think of Japanese-Americans being shipped off and “deportment” makes me think of Latinos. I don’t think I’m being racist in these associations; these are just the contexts in which I’ve heard these terms the most.

For me, it is non-racial, generally speaking. Over the past year I’ve used the word probably hundreds of times, right here on these boards, playing Mafia games, so that is actually the first things that comes to mind currently.

Living in Georgia for 9 years, usage and intent were arguably seen through the regional/cultural filter that you start to wear while living in the south, so I may have answered differently while I was still living there.

I also commonly use the term lynchpin with no racial intent.

I don’t think hanging in general is a racial thing. But when I hear “lynch,” I do definitely think of racism. (Granted, I am reading “Against Our Will” which has a whole section on the tradition of lynching as a punishment for rape or perceived rape of white women, so right now I could be biased.)

The etymologies are entirely different, FWIW.

I wonder if Al Sharpton has boycotted this stuff yet?

Yeah, I just figured there might be some sort of Latin root involving physics or something.

Or maybe I’m remembering some past conversation with someone who thought the original use was hanging/throwing someone off of a “linch”.

Because it assumes (in the mind of the offended) that only black people deserve to be lynched? Because only black people are bad enough/stupid enough/powerless enough to be lynched? Because only white people are evil enough to do lynchings?

It’s tenuous, I admit, but I’ve been very sensitive to the hidden and assumptive racism inherent in accusations of racism (and other isms) ever since my stepmother deflated my supercilious outrage over perceived sexism when I was a kid. I was irritated that the model home she was showing had “obviously sexist rooms”. Why, she asked, did I assume that the Blue Room with sports stuff was the “boy’s room” and the Pink Room with ballerina stuff was the “girl’s room”? The sexism - or colorism - was mine. It was revealed in my interpretation of what the interior decorator was trying to say.