Lennon Lacy: A New Generation’s “Strange Fruit”

Lennon Lacy three

By Lamont Lilly
Durham, NC

“The nineteenth century lynch mob cuts off ears, toes and fingers, strips off flesh and distributes portions of the body as souvenirs among the crowd.” ~Ida B. Wells

Lennon Lacy did not hang himself; he was lynched! He did not commit suicide; he was murdered! Capturing the correct language is so critical in this case, which is probably why mainstream media has refused to cover it. The correct language reflects a history America would rather not share, while “lynching” is a word most Black folk would rather forget. The harsh reality is that Lennon Lacy, a 17 year old Black kid from North Carolina was lynched just two months ago.

What happened down there?

It was on Friday, August 29th 2014 that 17 year old high school student, Lennon Lee Lacy was found hanging from a wooden swing set in Bladenboro, NC. His lifeless body was left dangling in thin air on a makeshift rope. His neck was visibly marked with dark abrasions from asphyxiation. A belt buckle imprint was found just below his right ear. There were lacerations on his face, arms and chest – bruises on his chin, cheeks and nose – a series of unexplained scratches on Lennon’s scrotum, and an enlarged knot on the right side of his forehead.

The black Air Jordan’s Lacy was originally wearing were removed and replaced with a pair of sneakers no member of his family was able to recognize. Though Lennon’s feet were a size 12, the white sneakers placed on Lennon’s feet at his time of death were a size ten and a half. Lennon’s mortician, F.W. Newton described his body as if Lennon Lacy “had been killed in a bar room fight.”

As if Lacy’s lynching was not enough, just a few days after Lennon was laid to rest, someone (or some group) dug a small hole on top of his grave. They also destroyed the floral arrangement that friends and family had placed at his burial marker, tossing the arrangement alongside the road 40 ft away. While local authorities are suggesting suicide, the Black community is calling the Lacy case for what it is: a 2014 lynching.

Every reason to live

On the evening of Lennon Lacy’s disappearance, his father, Larry Walton was the last family member to see him alive. According to Walton, his son Lennon had every reason to live. His high school football team was scheduled to play their first game of the season later that evening. Lennon’s dream was to play in the NFL. He was a linebacker whose size, skill and work ethic basically guaranteed a scholarship to college. His performance in the classroom was equally stellar.

Local residents have spoken highly of Lennon’s character, manners and overall demeanor. Lennon was also active in his church youth group, had no criminal record, and no history of mental illness. His only “harm to society” was dating a white woman who lived nearby. Local residents were well aware of Lacy and 31 year old, Michelle Brimhall’s “intimate interactions,” which of course garnered a heaping of local gossip and disdain. Some things have not changed down south: the general attitude toward Black men dating white women just happens to be one of them.

Jim Crow and the southern confederacy

whites kill negroes in wilmington

Bladenboro, NC is a small town of 1,746 residents located just outside of Wilmington, NC. Nicknamed “Crackertown” by local Black residents, Bladenboro is 80% white and well known for its engrained racism within the social order. For those unfamiliar, Wilmington (NC) is home of the 1898 Race Massacre, a two day armed attack on Wilmington’s Black middle class by white terror mobs. What that moment literally created was Jim Crow Segregation – an oppressive and bloody end to Reconstruction and post slavery progress. Wilmington was also the site of the 1971 frame up of The Wilmington 10 (who were finally pardoned by NC Governor, Beverly Perdue in 2013). Such history and close proximity means everything.

This history contributes to the political and social climate of the community. White supremacy was at one time, the law in North Carolina. Many would argue it still is. Keep in mind that between 1882 and 1968 there were 86 Black folk lynched in this state – and those are just the lynchings we know of. Ironically, neighbors of the Lacy Family had just recently been made to remove a sign in their front yard that read “Niggers Keep Out.”

Police botch investigation

Stating that local authorities have failed to conduct a thorough investigation in this case is an understatement. It has been reported that Lacy’s fingernails were not properly swabbed for DNA testing. His hands, body hair and mouth were not examined either. Due to the presumption of suicide, Lennon’s neighbors, friends and ex-girlfriend, Michelle Brimhall have not been questioned.

It is obvious the Bladenboro Police Department have not taken this matter serious. A 200lb teenager was found hanging from a swing set in the middle of a trailer park, and no one knows anything? Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the local police department was partly involved. It was not long ago that police officers, sheriff departments and the Ku Klux Klan worked hand in hand to enforce white supremacy, particularly throughout the south.

If you are learning of this case for the first time, please tweet, Instagram and Facebook it. Dig deep and research the history. Tell your friends around the world how a 17 year old Black boy was lynched in North Carolina on August 29th 2014. Tell the world how America is still racist and lackadaisical in the pursuit of justice for all. Tell the world how democracy does not really exist here. In the case of Lennon Lacy, all I ask is that we tell the truth. Lennon Lee Lacy did not hang himself; he was lynched. He did not commit suicide; he was murdered. ■

“Our country’s national crime is lynching. It represents the cool, calculating deliberation of intelligent people who openly avow that there is an “unwritten law” that justifies them in putting human beings to death without complaint under oath, without trial by jury, without opportunity to make defense, and without right of appeal.” ~Ida B. Wells

***

Lamont Lilly is a contributing editor with the Triangle Free Press and organizer with Workers World Party. He has contributed to The Root, Truthout, CounterPunch and Black Youth Project, among others. He resides in Durham, NC. Follow him on Twitter @LamontLilly.

Links:

Ida B. Wells (after first mention/quote)

http://www.biography.com/#!/people/ida-b-wells-9527635#synopsis

The Wilmington 10

http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/31/justice/north-carolina-wilmington-10/

1898 Race Massacre

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_events_riot.html

Lennon Lee Lacy

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/oct/15/autopsy-north-carolina-teenager-hanging-questions 

Ku Klux Klan

http://thinkprogress.org/immigration/2014/08/11/3469708/kkk-north-carolina-anti-immigrant-protest/

 “a 2014 lynching”

http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/mass/lynching/index_1.html

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Video of the Week: The Robert F. Williams Documentary

Here is a film about the powerful journey of the revolutionary Robert F. Williams. Sadly many people, especially young people, have never heard of Robert F. Williams or about his contribution to the Black Freedom Movement and the overall global struggle for liberation. You will never see his name in school history textbooks in the United States, and there are no monuments of him in Washington, D. Till this very day, Amerikkka fears this man. They fear him because he organized Black folk and believed in the idea of self-defence. From the small town of Monroe, NC, Robert F. Williams organized his comrades to defend themselves by any means necessary. This story is one that needs to be told. Please order or borrow of copy of Negroes With Guns which tells the story of Robert F. Williams, and the liberation struggle out of Monroe, NC. Stay Woke.

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Hypocritical Violence: The Fear of Armed Black People

robertfwilliams

On September 10, 2014, Barack Obama approached the nation and said, “As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people.  Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country.” Obama informed the nation that the United States has a new enemy that they must fight to in order to protect the security of the “American people.” He described this enemy as ISIS/ISIL, and said that it was barbarous organization that should be stopped at all costs. “Our objective is clear:  We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.” This by any means necessary attitude of the President leads me to ask, why is it acceptable for Amerikkka to use violence for its freedom, but unacceptable for Black people to the same?

As someone involved in the liberation movement of Afrikans worldwide, I often run into resistance from those who subscribe to nonviolence as a principle. Their criticisms usually revolve around the fact that we must maintain some type of “moral high ground” over the oppressor. Of course we know this comes from our attachment to a distorted version of Christianity. Also there are others who care nothing about the morality; they just believe that we would just be wiped out if we tried to be violent. I can personally understand these criticisms as I was once heavily involved in the Black church, and as a person who thoroughly understands the capacity of the oppressor to inflict violence.

These criticisms however are a reflection of white supremacist conditioning. Distorting history is the foundation of this conditioning. Over the years, Amerikkka has used this mechanism to make nonviolence seem as the only acceptable and successful form of resistance for Black people. It has done its best to erase and demonize every piece of revolutionary resistance in the history of Afrikan people in Amerikkka and globally.

Afrikans have been resisting European colonization with violence both organized and unorganized, since its inception. From mutinies on slave ships to the militant resistance of the 1960s, we never took our oppression lying down. Due to the whitewashing of history, many people have little to no knowledge of this type of resistance in the history of the Black struggle. The United States intentionally focuses on Black resistance from a nonviolent perspective to keep people passive. Names like Denmark Vessey, Nat Turner, and Gaspar Yanga are purposely written out of the history books. While Amerikkka has continued to shame and erase the history and validity of armed Black resistance, they celebrate and uplift their own culture of violence and right to self-defense.

When Obama said his highest priority is the security of the American people, I couldn’t help but chuckle. He made this statement in a country where the police kill a Black person every 28 hours. The same country where men, women, and children experience Dante’s Inferno in the prison-industrial complex. The same country where the government uses tax-money to bomb poor people in countries like Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, etc. while children starve right here on Amerikkkan streets. The same country that gives billions of the citizen’s tax money to fund the terrorist state of Israel and it’s occupation of Palestine, while many people work over forty hours and still live in poverty. The very night Barack Obama uttered that phrase; Black people along with other people were fighting for their lives from the barbarous actions of the Ferguson police department. The hypocrisy of Amerikkka flowed through every syllable that came out of the mouth of the President.

We can’t have a successful revolution that is ignorant of our history of resistance. We cannot continue to be brainwashed into thinking that nonviolence is a principle that we must adhere to at all times. Many people use the Civil Rights Movement as an example of the success of nonviolent resistance. Again, this is a result of conditioning to pacify people. The Civil Rights Movement had powerful moments of nonviolent resistance, however that doesn’t mean that all people believed and participated in nonviolence at all times. Even Martin Luther King was armed for his own self-defense. Many Black folks were not for nonviolence but were involved in the Civil Rights Movement, particularly Black people in rural areas in the South. For rural Southern Blacks, guns were a part of the culture. Guns were used for hunting and also self-defense. This belief in self-defense was intensified by ancestors who fought in the Civil War and subsequent wars, who had to come home to these areas and had to deal with terrorists such as the KKK, White Citizen Council, and others. As veterans, these men and women believed in self-defense and fought these terrorists head on. This spirit of resistance created entities such as Robert F. Williams and the citizens of Monroe, NC, and the Deacons of Defense and Justice out of Louisiana. Charles E. Cobb Jr.’s recent book “ That Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Right’s Movement” describes the truth of about guns during this so-called nonviolent movement.

The truth is we have never had a nonviolent movement, and nor should we. Any movement that is to be successful must be multi-faceted in its tactics. None of the gains of the Civil Rights Movement were won by nonviolence alone. Nonviolence will always be a tactic that we can use when necessary, however we must understand that it’s not a principle. Revolution is only solution. Revolutions are bloody. Malcolm X and other ancestors explained that the freedom is won through bloodshed. We need to accept that there is no such thing as a peaceful revolution.

I grew up hearing the phrase, “Whoever has the gun makes the rules.” We can see how this statement holds true today. We often follow the law not because we agree with it, but because we are under the constant threat of violence by the state if we don’t. Assata Shakur says “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” We must get conscious and organized, but we must also get armed. It is our human and legal right to defend ourselves against any threat to our humanity. We are truly the ones fighting a war on terror, and we must defend ourselves. The spirit of revolutionary resistance still lives on inside of us. Stay Woke.

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Video of the Week: Baldwin’s Nigger (James Baldwin)

James Baldwin as a writer, intellectual, and overall human being has been a great influence to my own journey. In this video, Baldwin touches on the Black experience in the United States, and receives questions from Caribbean students in London. Baldwin is nothing short of amazing in how he communicates his thoughts and feelings to the people. There are some true gems in this video. The fact Dick Gregory gives a few lines is an extra bonus as well. Enjoy. Stay Woke.

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Walking Contradictions: Black people who don’t want to be Afrikan

you from afrika

Randomly select 100 Black people in the United States and ask them if they are Afrikans? If they say no, then ask what are they? You will likely receive a variety of answers. You might hear terms like Black, African-American, Moor, Hebrew Israelite, Biracial, Mixed, and the list goes on. In the midst of this sea of identity, there are some individuals who flat out refuse to associate themselves with an Afrikan identity. Which leads me to ask “What’s wrong with being Afrikan?”

To answer this question, we must look back in history. Those of us those are conscious understand that the key to enslaving a person is to take their identity. Removing any mental, physical, and spiritual attachment our ancestors had with their native land was the first thing the oppressor did to them. The only identity that the oppressor wanted our ancestors to have was that of a slave. We can see this process still taking place in the prison system in Amerikkka. Upon entering the prison, the imprisoned person is stripped of their personal belongings and is given a number. As far as the prison is concerned, that number is that individual’s identity.

From the days of chattel enslavement to the present, the identity of Afrikans in Amerikkka has gone through many transitions. We went from Nigger to Colored to Negro to Black to Afro-American to African-American, along with the several other identities inside of this timeline.

Black people, who flat out refuse to be Afrikan, use classic talking points created by white supremacy to defend their stance. “My Grandparents, my parents, and I was born in Amerikkka, therefore I’m not Afrikan; I’m Amerikkkan.” “I know nothing about Afrikan culture, so I can’t be Afrikan.” “Even people from Afrika doesn’t see Black people in America as Afrikans.” “My parents are from (insert Caribbean island/Latin country) so I’m not Afrikan.” All of these responses were created from white supremacist conditioning. Their intention is to separate Black people from their connection with the lives and experiences of BILLIONS of Afrikans that exist around the globe.

Growing up I never realized how much of Afrika still lives inside of my people and myself. For instance, I didn’t know the pouring of liquor (libations) was a ritual that came from Afrika. Or that the “call and response” in our music comes straight from Afrika. Our connections to Afrika are everywhere, in our music, religion, parenting, mannerisms, EVERYTHING. Afrika is written into our DNA. We are Afrikans whether we like it or not. Personally, I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Why is important to embrace our Afrikan identity? Here are a few reasons and benefits I think the people should consider:

1. We need a common identity based on the common origin of all Children of the Diaspora. We can’t unite if we don’t have a common identity.

2. It instantly connects us with BILLONS of Afrikans around the globe. Many of who are facing similar oppression from white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Embracing our Afrikan heritage, creates an understanding that we aren’t alone, we have ROOTS.

3. A full-scale revolution of Afrikan people must take place globally to liberate the Children of the Diaspora and Motherland. This revolution must defeat capitalism and teach people a new way to live under a framework rooted in socialism. Pan-Afrikanism is the ship that needs to take us there.

4. It gives us a reason to study and learn our history. Agreeing that you’re Afrikan should spark you to at least know something about where you came from. That push to know our roots happens all the time, consciously and subconsciously. It’s essentially Afrika calling you home.

5. Due to the unhealed wounds of our enslavement, we have to live with battered and bruised self-esteems. White supremacy’s conditioning program is rooted in teaching self-hate. Being Afrikan, gives us something to be proud of. It gives us a foundation to build self-love.

Now I am not saying that we have to stop using all other identities. Notice I still used “Black” as an identifier throughout this piece. What I am saying is that regardless of we identify as; we must understand that we are Afrikans. If we plan on having a successful revolution against the oppressor, we must learn how to connect with all of our people across the globe. We have to build spiritual, economic, cultural, and revolutionary bridges back to the Mother Continent. Long live the revolutionary spirits of Malcolm X, Patrice Lumumba, and Frantz Fanon. Stay Woke.

“I realized that I was connected to Africa. I wasn’t just a Colored girl. I was part of a whole world that wanted a better life. I’m part of a majority and not a minority. My life has been a life of growth. If you’re not growing, you’re not going to understand real love. If you’re not reaching out to help others then you’re shrinking. My life has been active. I’m not a spectator”~ Assata Shakur

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Video of the Week: You can’t hate the roots – Malcolm X

A few days ago on Twitter, I discussed how Black people in Amerikkka cannot be “Americans” and that they are in fact “Afrikans”. I made the argument that if we are Americans, then why does Amerikkka treat us like they do? To identify the descendants of enslaved Afrikans as Americans, would mean that a Black person is now treated the same as a wealthy white male. We know this not to be true. As expected this message experienced some resistance from people. The resistance consisted of the classic talking points such as, “I wasn’t born in Africa, I was born in America” or “Africans doesn’t even recognize Black people as Africans.”

In this video Malcolm X lays out why some Black people in Amerikkka don’t want to identify with the continent of Afrika. Malcolm’s words explain why Pan-Afrikanism is important and vital for all children of the Diaspora.

Last week I wrote on a piece on the importance of identity. One of the greatest fears of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy is Black people creating their own identity, especially an Afrikan identity. Think about how dangerous that could be for the oppressor. If we start identifying with Afrika, then that means we would have to start caring for and connecting with the mother continent. White supremacy can’t afford to have a bridge built to Afrika. Stay Woke.

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Hijacking: Why the White mainstream keeps discovering Black culture

wetbangs2

Every morning I wake up to find out that the white mainstream has made yet another major “discovery”. From appreciating large posteriors to gelled down bangs, it seems that white culture is constantly at the forefront of cultural creation. Only one problem, how do you discover something that’s been around for ages?

The collective response from my people has been, “White people won’t let us have shit.” This is a fair and honest charge. White supremacy doesn’t want Afrikan people in this country to have anything of our own. Not natural hair, our music, or even the use of the word nigga. Yes I’ve actually seen some Whites say that they should be able to use the word, and even claim that it’s only racist when used in the wrong context. Needless to say, white supremacy seems set on erasing anything that Black people claim as our own.

Culture is everything when we are discussing people. Culture is identity. So we must question and understand why white supremacy is so fixated on Black culture. How do you enslave an entire race of people? You take away their culture. When whites enslaved Afrikans, the first thing they did was demonize anything Afrikan. They demonized the languages, religions, music, traditions, and anything else that gave the enslaved Afrikans some form of identity. The only identity the oppressor wanted the enslaved to have was that of a slave. A people with no culture have no identity. This makes it very easy for someone else to define (oppress) them. The worst thing white supremacy did was distance Black people from our culture(s).

Freedom is the power to define, so we can understand why white supremacy doesn’t want Afrikan people in this country defining things for themselves. Black people creating our own identity are a direct threat to white supremacy, especially if that identity empowers Black people to reject the white supremacist capitalist patriarchal status quo. For instance, when Hip Hop had Black youth all over the country yelling “Fight the power!” and “Fuck the police,” the oppressor knew action had to be taken. So what did they do? They hijacked Hip Hop and made sure they controlled what messages were being fed to Black youth. This is just one example out of many of cultural theft by white supremacy.

As much as white supremacy has attempted to sabotage, mock, and appropriate Black culture, my people have continued to find ways to survive and create. We’ve always been survivors. They took away our original foods, and gave us scraps. We took those scraps and made soulfood. They took away our original languages, and gave us English. We took that English and made our own version, which the academics call African American Vernacular English. We are natural born creators and nothing will stop us from defining the world for ourselves. Our ancestors gave birth to the first civilization, they gave the world religion, mathematics, science, and powerful structures like the pyramids. So to the mainstream, try if you won’t, but you will never define us. We will be free, by any means necessary. Stay Woke.

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