by iampunha | 7/19/2008 08:00:00 AM
Author's note: This really wasn't supposed to happen like this. I evidently forgot to slot this in for publication, so here it is almost a week later.

It wasn't supposed to happen like this.

You were supposed to read about noted Pasteur peer Albert Calmette, the New York City draft riots and about as glowing tribute as my heart could muster for the MLB commissioner who let Jackie Robinson play. Og bless, what I could have written.

July 15 would have been an art day (which I do when I don't feel like teaching myself the organic chemistry I'd have to understand to bring you another scientist). July 16 was about Joe Jackson and some biting irony regarding Commissioners Landis and Chandler.

And then July 19 would roll around, and I'd talk about how every diary from the previous week had had some good in it, and this one didn't.

On July 19, 1935, you see, Rubin Stacy was lynched.

For those who struggle against injustice.

Twenty-one black people were lynched in 1935.

Twenty-one that we know of, that is.

We don't even have names for three of them. We just know they were lynched.

1935 certainly wasn't the only year that saw whites lynch blacks for any old reason. (One suspects that, just for sport, a white man observing a black man's burning, jerking body hanging from a tree might say, "Oh, he left the seat up," look to the questioner and smile, then continue, "and we take the law into our own hands down here. It's a long way to the Washington lawmen in Mississippi.")

I could spend the rest of this diary thinking up increasingly vile and hateful things to say about anyone who would lynch a man for "[going] to [Marion Jones'] house to ask for food; the woman became frightened and screamed when she saw Stacy's face." I could rip into President Roosevelt for doing all of nothing about this pile of uninvestigated murders. (The New Deal was the Same Old Deal to a lot of people.) I could use all the three- and four-letter words I know, import some from other languages, get into the compound words, maybe even dig up some insults from Shakespeare's day.

It's funny, though. We spend so much time thinking of new and amusing ways of insulting people. We've been giving people unendearing nicknames for eons. In this age of technology, we photoshop them in amusing (if humiliating) circumstances.

If we spent more time coming up with nice things to say and nice things to do and stopped focusing on demonizing each other, I wonder what kind of world we'd live in. ("I'll stop that when the other side stops." Your behavior can't possibly be bound by that of someone you don't respect, can it? That's hardly logical ...)

But at the end of the day, all the words in the world don't translate into action. Railing against Rubin Stacy's murderers (yeah, no convictions, but give me a fucking break) won't bring Stacy back, won't give him an education, a job, a family. His parents, now long dead, won't feel soothed. And anyone who might talk of their great-uncle Rubin could probably do to see something a bit more positive resulting from their relative's murder at the hands of people who frankly didn't need much of a reason to kill a black man in the deep South back in the day.

So you go ahead and think the most awful, vile things about the men standing in that picture. Wish as much evil on them as you've ever wished on anyone. Invent levels of Hell for them to inhabit, where they serve as Benson's butlers, forever making tunafish sandwiches for Philip Banks, never more than janitors in George Washington Carver's laboratory.

::time for readers to think evil thoughts::

Now, in the interest of doing something useful, go to a random blog on the Internet (maybe a diary at Daily Kos, where Jeremy found me) and write something nice in a comment to the blogger or to someone who left a thoughtful comment. And if you'd be so kind, link back to this entry so other people who might have missed it can have a chance to turn a 73-year-old murder into some small token of kindness.

That's what this is about, see. Yes, Rubin Stacy and hundreds of black people were lynched up until a few decades ago.

They're dead. Can't nobody bring them back, even with strong smelling salts and some really warm heaters. You can tell stories about them, sure. Record oral histories of their relatives. (And oral histories will play a prominent role in a future entry of mine. You'll cry, but the tears will be happy.)

These men's murderers are probably all long dead. You're not going to get them in a court, not going to get them convicted in absentia of murder, not going to get their remains placed in jail for one ceremonial day.

But if you do something good for the black men and women who were lynched (and a few white people who crossed the social line), you honor them. You celebrate their humanity. You make their lives worth more.

And you bring them back to life, in however small a way.

Now, 73 years after Rubin Stacy was murdered, he lives here. He will always live here. The men who murdered him can't take this down, can't hang it from a tree in their brimmed hats and white, collared shirts like this is just another day at work in the hot summer of the South.

Link to this as your reason for responding to another blog, whatever, and Rubin Stacy will live there as well. Promote goodwill and the message of equality, of love, of kindness outpaces hate. We can't bring Rubin Stacy back to life, but we can give him and his a second life.

Do it. You know you want to. It's crazy, yes. It's the Progressive Historians equivalent of Pay It Forward.

And it's social action you can engage in from the seat of your underroos.

You win. I win. Rubin Stacy wins. Unnamed black people lynched in 1865 win.