Nooses in the workplace – when does it stop?

nooses

Are the use of nooses as symbols of intimidation rising in the workplace? 

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) data says that reports of racism and discrimination are on the rise. Their data does not speak to nooses, particularly. 

Still, it is disturbing to peruse newspaper reports to learn that at purportedly “woke” workplaces and supposedly liberal campuses, racists, fools or both are using nooses as symbols of racist intimidation, just as they were a century ago. 

Offensive symbol

In September, two climate change activists appeared at the supposedly progressive University of Wisconsin wearing nooses. The protesters say they were modeling their behavior after seeing them used in a European climate change protest. Nonsense. 

If these protesters grew up in the United States, they ought to have known what nooses mean.

“Nooses are an offensive symbol, with deep impacts to our students, faculty, staff, and community,” said chancellor Rebecca Blank. “Their use to amplify any issue is misguided, hurtful, and contrary to UW–Madison’s values of civility, respect, and inclusion.” 

The harassment 

Bananas were found hanging from string in the form of nooses at American University after Taylor Dumpson was installed as the first African American president of the student government. 

The bananas were marked with the letters AKA, which happens to be Dumpson’s sorority. While the perpetrators were never identified, some people decided to take the hate to another level, identifying Dumpson in the racist rag, The Daily Stormer. 

Andrew Anglin, the publisher of The Daily Stormer, encouraged his readers to “troll storm” Dumpson, and she got so many racist emails, messages and threats that she feared for her life. 

Victory for student 

Taylor Dumpson got her victory this year, though. In August 2019, a judge awarded her more than $700,000 for punitive damages, compensatory damages, and attorney fees.

Most folks who are the receiving end of noose intimidation don’t experience such a victory. Employees at UPS, who filed a lawsuit earlier this year, have yet to receive satisfaction. 

Same backward habits 

While he has not yet used nooses, President Trump doesn’t mind his supporters showing up at his rallies brandishing the symbols of the confederacy. 

And the man who has a long history of wallowing in racist mud recently opined that he feels “lynched” by the Congressional inquiry to his outrageous behavior, which includes pressuring the Ukrainian president to investigate his political opponent, repeatedly violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, and withdrawing troops from Syria, leaving our Kurd allies unprotected. 

No shame

More than 4000 people died from lynching in this country, and their deaths didn’t happen at the hands of a Congressional committee, but at the end of ropes.

Many were burned alive. After they died, their bodies were first used for sport, some bodies were found with hundreds of bullets in them. 

While Mr. Trump did not create the racism manifest in nooses and lynching, he has undoubtedly unleashed its expression. I would say that 45 should be ashamed, but his outrageous acts and his insensitive rhetoric suggest that, he actually has no shame.


Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. Her latest book, “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy,” is available at www.juliannemalveaux.com.

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