On October 23, CNN is airing a special entitled: The Noose: An American Nightmare. The show will investigate the horrific history of the noose in America, what it meant, what it means, and the recent incidents involving the noose across the nation. I found out about this during a commercial break of Ms. Jones' show in the morning on radio's equivalent to BET, WQHT Hot 97.

I don't know about the rest of you folks, but I'm going to try and tune in, just to see what the mainstream media is going to say about the recent string of noose sightings. As most of you know, nooses have been popping up like fall fashion all over the country, and what folks are saying is these incidents are all copy-cat imitations of the noose incident in Jena, Louisiana.

The troubling thing about describing the other incidents that have been reported across the country as copy-cat behavior is it diminishes the personal emotional toll it takes on the victims, and promotes an apathetic attitude towards the more recent incidents. It's as if to say, we've heard it all before, and we don't need to hear it again, which is sad. I understand thousands of people can't gather at every location where a noose has been found, and considering there are so many other issues our community is facing, the obligations of our people have to be delegated responsibly. Perhaps a couple of folks can go to T.I.'s trial, a couple of folks can throw some support to Nas for his latest album title, and a few more can set up some voting drives in our community, but it's just as important to do something about the latest craze that's sweeping the nation: Nooses.

When I originally wrote about the Jena 6 situation, I called a lot of folks out who were going just because they were bored and wanted to feel special by marching. But, I never said the cause was not a worthy one, because it was. I truly believe those boys did what any other person would do had they found themselves in a similar situation. And I further believe anybody who repeats the behavior of those boys who hung the noose, whether it happens in the Coast Guard or at an Ivy League institution, deserves the same punishment: a thorough ass whooping. If not that, then some other form of retaliation is in order.

I say this because the noose, no matter how many times it pops up or where it pops up, symbolizes a time in our nation's history when we weren't even considered to be human beings, copy cats be damned. We were property, and if anyone tries to play ignorant about that fact, they should be tied up by a rope and forced to watch Roots a thousand times while getting smacked. Let's not act like these other noose sightings are any less significant than what we saw in Jena. It's not the traditional "N" word. It's the new "N" word because, for my money, nothing says "nigger" more than a noose. It's not the confederate flag, because though that does represent the injustice of slavery, it doesn't represent the death slavery caused. It's not a nappy-headed ho, because ain't no rapper wearing a noose around their neck like it was a piece of jewelry they copped from Jacob. A noose is not a minstrel show, because it's nothing to laugh about.

Even if this is some copy-cat behavior, the behavior some of these punks are copying is used with a symbol that represents hate and death, much like the swastika for Jewish folks. And like the swastika, the noose is not a symbol worth thousands of words, but rather, thousands of lives. And I don't care how many years ago they were still using nooses, or how far we've come as a people, if you're black, you know what the noose means, and if a person chooses to see to it that all noose incidents are treated with the same vigor as any other slight or injustice, the cause is just.

Motivation To Write This Piece

- What Do Nooses Signify? - By Farai Chideya (News & Notes on NPR, original air date 10-19-07)

- "Blacks Should Toss Noose as Symbol" - By Michael Meyers (Newsday)

- "The Noose: An American Nightmare" - By Kyra Phillips (Airing tonight, October 23, on CNN)