Racism: Alive and Well and Lynching in Bellmawr

Boo!   It’s Halloween in Bellmawr, so that means the man a couple of streets over from us is going all out again with his Halloween decorations.  He’s got the spooky spider webs that cover his house from one end to the other.  He has the requisite pumpkins, bats, and giant spiders.  He has the totally scary strobe lights going as soon as it gets dark.  And then he has the most horrifying Halloween decoration I think I have ever seen in my life.  He has a black man hanging from the highest beam on his porch.  Yes, there it is, out in public, racism at it’s finest.

Obviously, I am not ignorant to racial tension.  I grew up in a home where the “N” word was bandied about as if it was being used in telling fairy tales to children.  My grandmother, who was Irish, would not allow one of the black neighborhood children into her house to use the bathroom.  But I thought that we had come to a point in this culture where you kept your racist opinions to yourself, unless you were in the KKK and getting paid by Howard Stern to chat about them over the public airways.  I thought we were all about political correctness in this country – you know, don’t say anything in public that will offend, no matter what you say in the privacy of your own home.

But that’s not all folks.  It’s not enough that this neighborhood has a nightly lynching from the end of September until the beginning of November.  We also have, on our street alone, two very prominently displayed Lawn Jockies.  If you do not know what a lawn jockey is, see this informative little article :   http://www.phillyburbs.com/undergroundrailroad/signals.shtml   Where else but the deep south can you go and find such a blatant display of disdain towards African Americans?   Why, Bellmawr, that’s where!!

I don’t know what to tell my children about these things – if they ever ask.  My oldest was with me when I gasped out loud and nearly  ran the car off the road when I saw the black man hanging from the porch around the corner.  She did not know until recently what a lawn jockey was.  Do I let them understand that this is what America is all about?   That it’s perfectly okay in this country to show your dislike for something without fear of punishment?   Do I teach them about hate, using their good friends and neighbors as examples?  

I’m at a bit of a loss.  I think for right now, we won’t be visiting David Duke’s home for Trick or Treating.