Noose Finding At Smithsonian Marks Latest In String Of Hate Incidents
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Yesterday, someone left a noose inside the new National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. It was discovered by tourists who were visiting the museum. And on the same day, the N-word was found spray painted on the gate outside LeBron James' house here in Los Angeles. Here's what he said at a news conference yesterday.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
LEBRON JAMES: No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, you know, being black in America is - it's tough. And we've got a long way to go, you know, for us as a society and for us as African-Americans until we - until we feel equal in America.
MCEVERS: The incidents at the museum and at LeBron James' house are still being investigated. But according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there have been more than 1,800 incidents of what they call hate and bias since the election in November. Earlier today, we called up Carol Anderson to talk about all this. She's the chair of the African-American studies department at Emory University and the author of "White Rage: The Unspoken Truth Of Our Racial Divide." And I asked her if she ever wonders how are these things still happening in 2017.
CAROL ANDERSON: I know - I know that you want to believe that we have really gotten better. As a historian, what I know and what I detailed in "White Rage" is that as we move forward to a more inclusive, robust democracy that the entrenched forces of reaction fight back hard.
MCEVERS: A columnist in The Washington Post has suggested that, you know, when the investigation into yesterday's incident at the Smithsonian is over that the police should actually give the noose back to the museum to put it on display and to market and say noose, symbol of contemporary hatred and racism 2017. What do you think about that?
ANDERSON: Yes. Yes because one of the things that we like to do is we like to think of racism as something in the past. It is something from which we have overcome. I mean, this is why you get this kind of elegy about the civil rights movement. We love that triumphal Democratic narrative, but we haven't overcome. It's just that the chameleon of racism has changed shape, and it's scrawling the N-word across LeBron James' gate. It's hanging a noose in the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. It's drawing, as they did in North Carolina, congressional district boundaries in order to dilute the voting strength of African-Americans. I mean, we see it in all of these various, different forms, but we only recognize it as something in the past.
MCEVERS: What do you think is the most constructive way to kind of move on from this and to try to get better?
ANDERSON: We have to, A, really know our history and not the myths that we have been told so that we don't get drawn into the kinds of elegies of we have overcome and then can't understand why we're seeing what we're seeing. We have to be more engaged in this democracy. And that means demanding greater accountability of ourselves and of politicians. We have to be more humane and more empathetic. That's how we begin to break this thing.
MCEVERS: Carole Anderson, author of "White Rage: The Unspoken Truths Of Our Racial Divide," thank you very much.
ANDERSON: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.