No Laughing Matter This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

During a sixth period bathroom break last year, I found an ugly black swastika scrawled on the bathroom wall. I needed a couple of seconds to regain my composure, to try to understand why someone would put a symbol of mass murder and a reminder of the Holocaust on our school walls.

I still think of that graffiti. I don’t want to believe that someone would draw a swastika as a prank. When I read about nooses being hung around the nation by attention-seeking copycats, I was shocked that newspapers reported these acts as a joke.

They see this as a joke. I see it as terror.

The noose, the South’s enduring symbol of racial hatred, has returned and is hanging right in front of our eyes. The recent racially hued controversy and wave of hate crimes may have originated in Jena, Louisiana. A day after a black student sat under the “white tree” at the local high school, three nooses hung from the giant oak. As racial tension grew at that school, six black students beat up a white student. The victim went to the hospital but still attended a social gathering that evening. But the six attackers, known now as the Jena Six, were charged with attempted murder.

The case grew into a cause as people across the nation questioned the stiff charges and what they believed was uneven justice delivered in the South. And the hate is still spreading.

Nooses were looped over a tree at the University of Maryland, tied around the neck of Tupac Shakur’s statue in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and draped on the office doorknob of a black Columbia University professor.

In a typical year, about half a dozen noose cases are reported, according to Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes. This year, there have been more than 50 noose cases reported.

This leads me to question the validity of “justice for all” Americans. These noose cases are obviously hate crimes, but the law doesn’t include noose-related incidents in hate-crime statues or they have minimal penalties. This means that justice is not being served for the people who suffer when they see a noose hanging in front of their home.

You might say the country has changed since the time of legally sanctioned racism, and it has. The problem is, it’s changing again. We can no longer call ourselves an equal country if hanging nooses passes as a prank.

This is a hate crime, and it needs to be recognized. It’s not funny. It’s not a joke. The sight of a noose sends shivers through the black community, just as a swastika still terrorizes Jews.

We say we’ve changed. So, America, prove it. Call these hate crimes what they are: terror.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 7 comments. Post your own now!

keepinitreal said...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 5:23 pm
This was great. Thank you for opeing people's eyes.
SecretNonConformist said...
Oct. 26, 2010 at 7:18 pm
These are issues everyone, and I mean, EVERYONE needs to know about. Keep writing, keep putting it out there!
Ink_Stained_Fingers said...
May 25, 2010 at 4:48 pm

i hope you don't support the government forbidding such 'hate crimes'

yes, they are wrong, but lets just stay out of it. speak out if you must, but do not try to bring the government into it

C@ndyBe@r replied...
Nov. 3, 2010 at 9:21 am
Keep the government out of it? Are you serious? They are part of the problem because the government could do a big part in helping to solve this problem;but they choose not to!
mandapanda91 said...
Dec. 22, 2009 at 6:52 am
while I highly doubt this is what your seeing the swastika meant at your school, keep in mind for some its used in religion. Orginally it was a runic symbol for good health and wealth . Some people still practice those beliefs.
doverdrama said...
Jul. 16, 2009 at 1:24 pm
I really love this article. You really made the facts clear, and understandable. I remember hearing about the nooses on the news, and although I am caucasian, felt betrayed. by my own color. It sickens me that people resort to this symbol of hatred and violence, so thank you for putting it out there.
Sandy33 said...
Dec. 1, 2008 at 12:43 am
Your article is so true and really understand it, and the point you're trying to make. Beleive me, in my mind you stated and made your point. I know lots of people who don't take things as seriously as they should and most of them come from my school, I hear you loud and clear!
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