Racism and The Empty Chair

During Clint Eastwood’s psychotic episode speech at the RNC this year, he pretended to address President Obama by talking to an empty chair. If the symbolism of a white man talking down to a powerful person of color didn’t send the message of racism home for you, then consider the aftermath.  Eastwood used the chair to put President Obama “in his place,” while other white folks are taking this spectacle of racism to another level. The first photo shows an empty chair in Virginia with an obvious target, the second photo shows an empty chair from Texas has a less visible target. The common denominators are: Obama, lynching, and anti-Black racism.

Attention white folks: we know exactly what we’re doing when we hang shit from trees, we don’t get to take this behavior out of historical context, and we need to understand that a Black president does not mean the end of racism when this kind of racial violence continues to go down. Sometimes a picture isn’t worth a thousand words. “Racism still exists” are three words these combined pictures are worth. If you’re still unconvinced and still looking for proof, then you might consider that you have no idea what you’re looking for.

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2 thoughts on “Racism and The Empty Chair

  1. G says:

    Some of those who are hanging chairs from trees may indeed be racist. But, some may just be ignorant. Which, unfortunately, too many in our country are since we don’t allow freedom of choice in education. Just look how many people in the USA don’t know that the Republican Party was founded to abolish slavery in the USA. Or, that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President. Or that the three Amendments to the Constitution that were put forward to abolish slavery, give blacks the right to vote, and grant them citizenship were all passed with unanimous Republican support against near unanimous Democratic opposition. Or that the last Civil Rights Act in 1964 that was passed was passed with 90% Republican support against almost 30% Democratic opposition. Or that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican. It might be racist to automatically assume that a chair hanging from a tree means a white racist lives in that house.

    • I repeat: white folks know exactly what we’re doing when we hang shit from trees. I will amend: white folks don’t get to decide that hanging shit from trees is completely neutral or not racist. And absolutely, the lack of freedom of choice is such a problem with public education: like the freedom to choose to go to a nicer school, the freedom to choose to learn about something other than white history, or the freedom to choose not to participate in racialized standardized testing. The fact is, regardless of the history of the Republican party (a party that is clearly not the same now as it was 200 years ago), these specific self-identified white Republicans lynched chairs in their front yards. MLK being a Republican doesn’t change the fact that self-identified white Republicans lynched chairs in their front yards. With all the elements combined–lynching, anti-Obama/anti-Black racism, white Republicans–there’s no possible way that it “might” be “racist” to assume households with symbolic lynchings in their front yards have racists living in them.


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