Dear Editor:

As Halloween approaches, Social Justice Matters Inc. would like to take this opportunity to denounce displays that portray images of violence against people of color. While skeletons hanging from trees may not appear to have a particular skin color, for Black people in the US, whose parents, grandparents or great-grandparents fled the South during the Great Migration because of the prevalence of lynchings, the image of any body hanging from a tree can be traumatic and offensive.

Between the end of slavery and the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s, there were more than 4,000 racial terror lynchings in the US, peaking between 1880 and 1940. Many victims were not accused of crimes, but were lynched for simply speaking up for themselves, or for breaking minor societal expectations. Lynchings included torture before and/or after actual hanging, and were a public spectacle where white people, including elected officials, gathered in a carnival-like atmosphere, collecting severed body parts as souvenirs and posing for picture postcards.

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While Halloween can be fraught with cultural appropriation and other questionable imagery, lynching, nooses and hanging bodies are particularly visceral and the most direct symbol of racial terror in the US. Please find ways to celebrate this season with sensitivity and respect for our neighbors and friends. Halloween in our beautiful community should be warm and welcoming and fun for everyone. 

Learn more:

Social Justice Matters, Inc.

Joan Peters, President
Leland McGee, Vice President
Pamela Brooks, Secretary
Michael Zito, Treasurer
www.socialjusticematters.org