On August 28, 2017 White teenagers allegedly called an 8-year old biracial child racial slurs, threw rocks at him, tied a rope around his neck and hung him from a tree. This child swung 3 times while the teenagers watched him struggle for his life without trying to free him. Luckily, he was able to free himself. After being airlifted to a nearby hospital, we are happy to report that the child is alive and in stable condition. Physically, that is. Mentally, he will probably never be the same.
What does this have to do with you? Everything.
The attempted lynching is only half of the crime, here. The other half is that it is not being treated as a crime at all. White people, from the boy’s mother to his extended family to the town’s Chief of Police don’t seem to recognize this as a racially motivated hate crime, much less attempted murder. In fact, the Claremont (New Hampshire) police chief, Mark Chase, literally said, “These people need to be protected”. These people, of course, are the White teenagers, not the biracial child they tried to lynch. These teens are privileged by a legal system that seeks to protect them even when they’ve tried to murder a child.
I do not think that children should be tried as adults, but the reality is that they frequently are. The reality is also that these children tried as adults are also disproportionately Black and brown in most instances. While I don’t think the teens here should be tried as adults, they DO still need to be tried! Whether adult or child, anyone capable of doing something this deliberate and this dangerous should not be allowed in free society where they might hurt someone again or perhaps even be successful in killing someone in the future. Rehabilitate, punish, whatever… these teenagers need to be placed under long-term supervision away from public access.
Back to your role, though…
Unless you do your part to bring attention to this case and demand justice for this little boy, your skinfolk will allow this blatant act of racism, which nearly claimed a child’s life, to be quietly swept under the rug.
White silence really does equal White violence!
Your Action is Necessary
Here’s what you need to do to ensure that this case doesn’t just evaporate into thin air… until another child is actually lynched:
1. Educate yourself on the history of lynching in America
2. Stop denying, ignoring and making excuses for racial aggression and violence
3. Don’t allow other White people to deny racial aggression and violence in your presence
4. Contact the local police in New Hampshire
5. Make this story go viral
America’s Love Affair with Lynching
Speaking of things swept under the rug, you may not know the extent of America’s history with lynching Black people. Now is a good time to educate yourself. After slavery ended, men, women and children were regularly hung and often times burned by mobs of White people. These lynchings were not done in secret as many were treated as entertainment with tickets being sold to the public! Entire White families (yes, this includes children) would come to witness these public hangings and some lynching organizers even sold postcards to commemorate the event.
The publicity surrounding these lynchings was deliberate. Originally intended to terrorize Black people in order to maintain White supremacy and racial control, some White people still seek to trigger that fear by hanging nooses (one of the more recognizable hate symbols directed toward Black people) on college campuses and in other shared spaces. For this reason, you cannot keep silent about what has happened to this helpless little boy. You cannot give the benefit of the doubt to the teenagers who did this to him. You cannot merely shake your head and say a prayer that things will get better. You’ve got to use your voice to declare that this sort of terrorism will not go unchecked in America!
Stop Denying the Obvious
After educating yourself on America’s history of lynching Black people, you should be able to connect the dots. When a Black child is bullied and called racial epithets by older teenagers and said teenagers then attempt to hang him from a tree, allow him to swing 3 times and never lift a finger to help him… what else can this be but an attempted lynching? Remember, this child had to be taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital. This was not some minor accident resulting from horseplay. To look for excuses for what these teenagers did is to look for reasons to uphold whiteness. It is to deny the young victim the justice he is due because White people prefer to see White children as incapable of this sort of racial violence despite facts which say otherwise.
Don’t Allow Other White People to Live in Denial
Wake them up! If this had been your child bullied, called names and almost murdered by older teenagers would you allow your family members and friends to make excuses for the older kids? If your child had to be airlifted to a hospital because of injuries sustained in an attack, would you be willing to listen to explanations that made other people feel comfortable ignoring what actually happened to your daughter or son? Be as passionate about this young man’s terrible experience as you would if it were your own child. When people say, “Well, race may not have had anything to do with it”, explain the whole story to them. Tell them about the epithets and the physical attack that preceded the hanging. Tell them about America’s history with lynching and challenge them to face the truth as you have.
Contact the Police
Police Chief Mark Chase promises that a full investigation will be conducted, but we need to hold him to this. While I understand that the names of juveniles cannot (and should not) be released to the public, the fact that Chase is already sympathetic toward the perpetrators suggests an extreme bias is already at play. Already he has characterized this crime as a “mistake”, indicated that it should not follow these teenagers for their rest of their lives and is on record saying that they need to be protected. Already, his version of an “investigation” suggests that nothing will be done to protect the actual victim or to ensure that these deeply troubled, misguided and violent teenagers will be taken off of the streets.
Place pressure on the police by contacting the department at (603) 542-9538 regularly and asking for updates on the investigation. Specifically, inquire as to whether they’ve deemed it a racially motivated attack and, if not, why not? If so, what are they planning to do about it. Also, ask where public information about their progress is being shared (because it’s not on their Facebook page or anywhere else as of this writing) and do not be deterred by any unwillingness on their part to talk to you. Become a thorn in their side until it is clear that they are doing their jobs!
Make This Story Go Viral!
Do not allow this story to rest. Instead, blog about it, write an op-ed piece for your local newspaper, share this and other blog posts and news articles with your email list, share this story on social media, post about any updates you discover and tell everyone you know to do the same. Awareness will not solve the problem, but we can NEVER solve it if people aren’t aware it exists.
This young victim will, undoubtedly, need therapy and ongoing support after surviving such a frightening and horrific ordeal. It’s also quite concerning that his White mother and White uncle seem to be uncertain that this was a racially-motivated attempt on his life (it is the child’s grandmother who has come forth with claims about the racial slurs that preceded the hanging). Clearly, they need an education in America’s history with racism and its particular use of lynching to maintain White supremacy through terrorism. I cannot imagine what this young man’s life will be like if his White family continues to misunderstand his unique existence in America and the aggressions he faces in a small lily-White town in New Hampshire.
White people, wake up! Use this opportunity to talk to your friends and family members who’ve adopted Black children or who have biracial children. Make sure that they are willing to understand racism/White supremacy and how, while they may not be faced with it on a regular basis, their children likely are.
Have Something to Add?
Need to vent? That’s fine and you can do that here, but don’t let that be ALL that you do. If you have further suggestions on what can be done about this case, please sound off below.