(Source: Lenin’s Tomb)
What is lynching? In its prevalent forms in American history, it appears as the administration of racial formations through terror. The mutilation, shaming and degrading of black bodies, and also the corpses being retrieved and displayed as trophies, was intended to maintain the symbolic subjection of black people to, in bell hooks’ formulation, “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy”. I stress the symbolic as a material element in racial oppression, because the problem of etiquette, of racial manners, was invariably central to such violence. Night-riders and lynch mobs were the enforcers of this etiquette. We know it’s a peculiar problem in Jim Crow, the thousand and one rules and codes that crowded the field of sociality, exchange, transport, production and so on.