No escape

Roseville Joes Crab Shack Racist Materials_1457645271002_941051_ver1.0

 

The photo on the table
shows a black man hanging
a white crowd watching.
A speech bubble has been added to the photo:
“All I said was I don’t like the gumbo.”
Someone thought this was humorous.

“The thing is, we had gone there to escape,”
Tyrone Williams said.
“We’re activists and organizers,
and we came to escape from
what we endure,
the systematic racism
on a day to day basis.”

At Joe’s Crab Shack: Minnesota, 2016.
Two friends out for dinner, see
a photo, place mat style,
laminated to the table top.

“We’re activists and organizers, and we came to escape …”

An old photo: Texas, 1895.
The days when
Ida B. Wells campaigned against lynching.
The days when
hanging black men entertained white crowds.
The days when
postcards of lynchings were printed and sold,
and sent by white people to white friends
to show them what they had missed.

Post card pictures show lynchings
1906 in Sabine County, Texas,
1920 in Duluth, Minnesota,
1930 in Marion, Indiana.
No state too nice for lynching.

A postcard says:
“This is the Barbecue we had last night.”

A postcard says:
“This is only the branch of the Dogwood tree’
An emblem of WHITE SUPREMACY
A lesson once taught in the Pioneer’s school
That this is a land of WHITE MAN’S RULE …”

A postcard says:
“This is where they lynched a negro
the other day. They don’t know who done it,
I guess they don’t care much.
I don’t, do you?”

Now Joe’s Crab Shack has apologized
for the photo of a black man hanging
that someone thought was a joke.
“We understand one of the photos …
was offensive,” they say.
“We sincerely apologize to our guests
who were disturbed by the image.”

Disturbed by the image
of a black man hanging
made into a joke.

Disturbed by the image
that no one recognized as offensive
until it hit the news.

Disturbed by
“what we endure,
the systematic racism
on a day to day basis.”

No one knows who is responsible
for putting the photo on the table top.
“They don’t know who done it,
I guess they don’t care much.
I don’t, do you?”

x x x

A few further words:

For all those who say, “But it wasn’t really a lynching. THIS photograph recorded an execution after a trial:”

  1. In Texas, in 1895, was there much difference between the trial of a black man and a lynching?
  2. The text balloon that was added — “All I said was I don’t like the gumbo” — was clearly meant to imply that this was a lynching.

For all those who say that the photo has been there for years, and no one was offended, or that Joe’s Crab Shack is not really racist: Well – that’s kind of the point. That’s what systemic racism means — it is such a part of the fabric of daily life that (white) people do not even notice it.

If you’d like to read more:

“This is the Only Branch of the Dogwood Tree” by LheaJLove

Without Sanctuary: Photographs and postcards of lynching in America by James Allen

Photography and the Practices of Critical Black Memory by Leigh Raiford

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