An open letter to Dr. James Cone in response to an article published by CNN.com
Dear Dr. Cone,
I suspect your father lied to you.
Your tales of a dad who would come home night after night steeped in worry that White marauders were lurking in the dark awaiting to assault simply don't ring true.
If I understand you correctly, your father never was actually attacked. Night after night, week after week; year after year. They never came. There you stood with a shot gun, looking into the darkness of night awaiting the assuring sight of headlights on your father's pick-up truck. Your father always came home. You never used your gun. The White mobs never materialized.
Maybe, just maybe, there were no White thugs lurking in the night. Maybe, just maybe, your dad was lying.
Then, again, he may have been suffering from delusions of schizophrenia.
Once he supposed a lynch mob was coming, bent on running him out of his home. That mob never materialized either.
Or could it be that his worries were well founded? Is it possible that the man who, you say, expressed racial anxiety and could never work for a White person lest he lose his dignity may have, himself, been the agitator? Is it possible that your dad, like so many other blacks, thought it sport to sucker punch defenseless White people? Did you father worry that someday his racist assaults would catch up with him? That someone would seek revenge?
I don't know.
What I do know, or at least conclude from your testimony, is that your father played a significant role in instilling racial hatred in his son, that he terrorized his son with sordid tales of wicked violent White folks, and that racism has gripped your heart and mind for some seven decades.
Did your father also instill in you the need to lie?
According the article at CNN.com, you claim that some 5,000 black men, women and children were lynched between 1880 and 1940.
5,000 is nice round number. Is it accurate? Are you telling the truth?
Actually, from 1882 to 1968 there were 4,743 lynchings in America. Of those, 1,297 were White. In fact, in twenty-five states there were as many or more Whites lynched as blacks.
The notion that America's lynch mob legacy was a matter of White racism is simply not true. The truth is that ill-advised people, skirting the rule of law, acted coarsely with brutal criminals. The fact remains that 73 percent of lynch mob victims were black and 27 percent were White.
I don't know if that reflects the incarceration rate throughout the 86-year lynching era. I do know that, today, about 30 percent of prisoners in America's jails and prisons are White. I suppose the ratio was about the same one hundred years ago.
I also know that in 2000 blacks were incarcerated at the rate of 3,161 per 100,000. Whites were incarcerated at the rate of 487 per 100,000. The White incarceration rate is about 15 percent of the black incarceration rate.
That doesn't speak of racial hatred or institutional racism. Rather, it addresses the undeniable fact that violent crime is disproportionately committed by black people.
By the way, did you know that 3,158 White South African farmers have been brutally murdered by blacks since 2004, most since 2008? These were not murderers dragged from county jails by angry mobs, but honest working farmers and their families, many of them elderly, murdered in their homes.
Black children were lynched in America? Is that true? Do you have documentation? Would you like some help?
In 2006 a black 14-year-old girl was sentenced to seven years for shoving a hall monitor at school. The news account reported the sentence with the headline, "Black Child Lynched in Paris, Texas."
Exaggeration, it seems, is common among black racists.
Maybe you are exaggerating when you claim black children were lynched. Maybe your father was exaggerating when he told you a White mob was out to lynch him. Maybe you learned to exaggerate from your father. Maybe you're sensationalizing to sell books.
Sorry, Dr. Cone, I can't find any historical records of little black children being lynched in the United States. If such occurred, they must have been extremely rare. Surely you -- or another reader of this letter -- can illuminate me. I'd really like to know.
I can, however, quote statistics of black children being murdered in "abortion clinics." I can cite news stories of little black children being gunned down in black neighborhoods by black people. Three-year-old Terrell Mayes, Jr. is one example. Four-year-old Marquel Peters was in church when a stray bullet killed him. Keian Ester was eleven years old when he was struck down by a stray bullet earlier this year.
Do you hate White people for child lynchings that never occurred? Do you hate black people for documented child killings that routinely occur?
I find it absolutely disgusting when a black racist rages against White people for crimes against black children that never happened, then refuses to offer a whimper of worry that little black children are being gunned down, some in their own homes, by people who look like you.
You also noted that black women were lynched. I've identified eight such lynchings in American history, all were victims of mobs who illegally skirted the rule of law and each victim was accused of murder. I suspect there were more.
Did you intend for me to believe that lynching innocent black women was routine? That they were murdered simply because they were black?
Did you know that in 2010 the second leading cause for death among black women, aged 15 through 24, was black-on-black murder?
Are you aware that the Violence Policy Center reports that black women are at risk of murder at a rate two and a half times higher than White women?
Did you know that in 2006 there were about 550 black women murdered in the United States? Nearly all were killed by black males. That's about ten per week. Or, to put in perspective, there are nearly as many black women murdered every week by black males as were hanged during the entire 86-year lynching era.
Do you hate all White people because vigilantes lynched a few black female murderers? Do you also hate all black people, yourself included, because hundreds of innocent black women are murdered every year by men who look like you?
Do you care? Are you bothered that black women are suffering and dying in their own communities; their own homes? Could it be that writing about black-on-black crime lacks the sensationalism required to sell books to sappy White people laden with guilt?
Perhaps there were isolated cases when body parts of lynch mob victims were cut off as macabre souvenirs; that postcards depicting the events were sent with objectionable messages. I wonder if such events actually happened. If they did, I would agree that such is despicable.
I do know, however, that until May 19, 1898 the United State Post Office held a strict monopoly on printing postcards. Did the United State Postal Service print postcards depicting lynchings? Not to my knowledge. The post office was then -- and is now -- very particular about permitting offensive postcards to travel through the mail. If such actually existed, they must have been extremely rare.
The postcards you mention must have been printed after 1901, if they existed at all. They are remindful of the host of videos uploaded to the websites HipHopStarship.com, YouTube.com and LiveLeak.com that feature blacks assaulting Whites. I find those images despicable as well. Do you?
Did you know that the White news media routinely condemned lynch mobs, even when justice was deserved, as violating the rule of law that binds a society into a cohesive and civil culture? I know that White people, in general, routinely condemned White-on-black violence then as they do today.
Did you mention Delphine Lalaurie in your books? Lalaurie was the New Orleans slave owner who was run out of town by an angry mob of Whites after it was discovered she was physically abusing her slaves.
I also know that blacks are not so condemning.
My mind recalls the episode in Jena, Lousiana where six black males set upon a lone White student and beat him without mercy. Do you recall the black media condemning that violence? Nor do I.
However, I do recall the Black Entertainment Network (BET) honoring one of the black attackers at an awards event. And I recall thousands of blacks rallying in Jena in support of black thugs who viciously beat their White victim.
I realize, of course, that distorting history can be a lucrative enterprise for those willing to cash in on racial hatred. I understand your books have sold quite well, including The Cross and the Lynching Tree, A Black Theology of Liberation, The Spirituals & the Blues, God of the Oppressed, and Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare. I also understand your position as professor at Union Theological Seminary comes with a handsome pay package.
I wonder: Are you bothered in the slightest that distorting history stokes racial hatred? That many Whites have been assaulted by blacks who cite America's racist history as a convenient excuse for their crimes? Do you ever suffer the slightest sense of guilt or responsibility for the horrific outcome of your black liberation theology and the distorted history upon which it rests?