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Why was violence so intence in the late 20th centry in America - Essay Example

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Violence in the 20th-Century America
In comparison to other kinds of violence and cruelty that African Americans experienced under Jim Crow, lynching was a rare and unusual event. …
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Why was violence so intence in the late 20th centry in America
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Download file to see previous pages African American women and men were much more prone to be victimized by rape or murder than lynching, and they endured all kinds of violence every day, especially during the latter part of the 20th century (Markovitz 33). In spite of, or even due to, its uncommonness, lynching carried a particular psychological power, raising a degree of terror and fear that engulfed all other kinds of violence in the 20th-century America. As illustrated by Jean Toomer, the shouts of a single mob may sound “like a hundred mobs yelling” (Wood 1), and the image of violence and terror kept on burning long after it was done. All the daily violence and degradations that black southerners experienced may, actually, be filtered into the occurrence of lynching, so that it becomes the main depiction of racial oppression and injustice all together. This essay explains that the intense violence in the latter part of the 20th century in America, especially as regards lynching, is largely characterized by violence against African Americans. 20th-Century Lynching: The Violence of America Lynching took on an enormous symbolic force specifically because it was unusual and concretely frightening. This violence that a massive number of white audiences watched as victims were tortured and hanged was the most terrifying image. The utter cruelty of the mobs, and their blatant disrespect of the law, astonished and frightened because they go against universal beliefs of what cultured individuals should or may be capable of (Holmes & Smith 17). Nevertheless, African Americans did not have to witness a lynching to be frightened by it, to sense that ‘penalty of death’ was lingering over them every day of their lives (Wood 26). According to Wright, “The white brutality that I had not seen was a more effective control of my behavior than that which I knew. The actual experience would have let me see the realistic outlines of what was really happening, but as long as it remained something terrible and yet remote, something which horror and blood might descend upon me at any moment, I was compelled to give my entire imagination over it” (Holmes & Smith 19). It was the scene of lynching, instead of the brutality itself, which inflicted some psychological injury that imposed black submission to white supremacy. All the more, mobs carried out lynching as a show for other white folks. The tortures, the procedures, and their later images sent powerful messages to the white people about their alleged racial supremacy. These exhibitions generated and propagated representations of black inferiority and white superiority, of black wickedness and white harmony, which served to implant and reinforce a sense of racial domination in their white audiences (Pfeiffer The Roots of Rough Justice 94). Hence, lynching was successful in acting out and preserving white supremacy not merely because African Americans were its victims, but also because white folks were its audiences. Even though lynching is at the heart of a long custom of American vigilantism, lynching grew considerably in both prevalence and severity after the Reconstruction and Civil War, reaching its peak from the latter part of the 19th century through the 20th century. During this period, lynching became a largely racial practice, as southern white folks tried to regain their power in the face of the possibility of social independence, enfranchisement, and emancipation of African Americans (Pfeiffer Lynching Beyond Dixie 21-22). Verifying the precise number of lynching that was performed in the 20th century is a very difficult undertaking, because the definition of lynching was largely contested, and groups like the Chicago Tribune, the Tuskegee Institute, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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