The Legacy of Lynching

This week in class, race, and gender we discussed the history of lynching in America. We discussed at length the systematic oppressive violence of the Jim Crow south against African Americans as well as other cases against different races throughout the country in the 19th and 20th centuries. Then we addressed a truly uncomfortable question: are people still being lynched today. Now, this may not mean actual lynching in its literal form, but are there groups of people who are the continual victims of hate crimes in America today. Thinking about this is extremely difficult, but victims of vigilante justice or hate crimes must not and cannot be ignored.
Although I have difficulty applying the term “lynching” to any of the violent acts that occur today, we absolutely must address and fight to prevent hate crimes in any form they take. When people engage in violent crimes against another community, whether that is a particular race, religion, or sexual orientation, they are creating terror and shame in that community.
Many hate crimes go unreported because of the terror instilled in the victims as well as their communities. On the other hand, often times these atrocious acts are reported and our justice system fails to do anything to punish the perpetrators. It is so important that victims within the LGBT community, Muslim Americans, and all other victims of hate crimes have safe spaces they can go to in order to report any threats or actual violence so that these acts can be stopped.
The actual act of lynching may not be present in America anymore, but hate crimes are as persistent as ever. It is our job as future museum professionals, and citizens of this country to take a stand against this violence. We must have these difficult conversations in order to bring hate crimes to light, and work toward eliminating them entirely.

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