Nooses Galore In the Lone Star State

Date Put forth on November 14, 2007 by XicanoPwr
Category Posted in Civil Rights, Prejudices, Racism


Since the incident that occurred in Jena, LA, the number of nooses that have been cropping up across the country has increased. The latest noose sighting has occurred at an Exxon Mobil facility in Baytown, TX, a town located along the Gulf Coast.

According to CBS local affiliate KHOU-TV, a noose was found hanging from scaffolding on separate occasions in the past three days. Company officials still don’t know is who was behind the acts but has released a statement stating that this act violated the company’s harassment in the workplace policy.

“These actions are completely unacceptable, and we are investigating this matter. These actions violate Exxon Mobil’s Harassment in the Workplace Policy which prohibits any form of harassment in the company workplace. The objective of this policy is to provide a work environment that fosters mutual employee respect and working relationships free of harassment. Harassment will not be tolerated, and Exxon Mobil is taking prompt action to address this matter.”

This incident comes one month after two other noose sights were reported. One took place at a Houston firm, FMC Technologies, and the other, at a local area high school.

Four contractors were fired from FMC Technologies, an oil field services company, after nooses were found on the site in two separate occasions. The first incident, which involved two men and a woman, occurred about two months ago when a supervisor found a noose in a shipping area. The second, involving one man occurred in the last week in October.

FMC Technologies spokeswoman told local NBC affiliate KPRC that one of the workers confessed when he was interviewed about the incident, but he did not give a specific reason why it was done, but he did not mean any harm. Even though he did not mean any harm, the incident did have repercussions. According to Houston community activist Quanell X, one of the African-American females who saw the noose was so totally terrified, she didn’t even want to come back to work.

Earlier in the month, a school officer found a noose on the campus of Pearland High School. It was reported that two high school boys were responsible for hanging the noose from the bandstand at the school. As the parking lot started to fill up with cars, school officials told reporters that one tied the noose while the other climbed the stands to hang it.

Both teens were arrested and were charged with a class C misdemeanor of disorderly conduct but not with a hate crime. Instead of going back to their school, they were sent to an alternative school for 30 days. Once again, this is being seen as an apparent “copy cat” prank of the incident that occurred in Jena.

However, the incident has lead to tension among students at the high school. According to the Houston Chronicle, about 200 students walked out from Pearland High School in protest to the noose that was hung in the parking lot. The Chronicle also reported that students were text messaging each other in the morning that there was a possibility of a retaliatory shooting taking place at the school later in the day. However, school district spokeswoman Renea Ivy-Sims told the Chronicle that school officials did not believe the shooting would have taken place because it was just rumors.

Nooses are powerful symbols of racism, hatred, and murder for people of color, especially for African Americans, and the fact that these nooses are reappearing should start sounding the alarms. What is this shows is that hatred, racism and intolerance are on the rise and that Jim Crow is alive and well in this country. We have to be honest. It’s not going to go away by ignoring it.

What is disturbing about all of this no one has been prosecuted on hate crime laws by the Justice Department, but what is more frightening is the indirect impact it has on our culture. I applaud the high school for taking action and FMC Technology for finally doing the right, but why does have to occur when these events finally make its way to the mainstream. How many times are we willing to turn a blind eye when a young person feels like it is hang a noose? We must start coming to the realization that type of behavior all starts at home. If a child’s parents are not willing to set the tone, step up to the plate to be their role models for racial tolerance, then who will?

We can no longer make excuses for intolerable behavior. It is time that stop allowing people play down these events as acts of stupidity or an awful prank. In order to end racial intolerance, we have to work together to change it. It is one thing for us to excuse and claim that was ignorant people who did this, but it is another when have educated people like those at Columbia University and the University of Maryland acting like this. It is time to stop hiding our head in the sand and start being concerned where this country is heading.

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