Legal Lynchings

Legal Lynchings January 13, 2023

~ Is it possible that the demons of slavery still roam among us? ~

Legal Lynchings
Legal Lynchings. Image by Krishtpt35, Wikimedia Commons.


“We lost the war so we can’t own slaves no more,” say Confederate Generals, “even though the courts say they’re only three-fifths human.”

“Then we’ll segregate them,” say White Folk. “Let ‘em know they ain’t welcome here.”

“Keep them separate,” say White Town Councils. “Don’t let them drink our water, eat our food or share our space.”

“Keep them from voting,” say White Mayors.

“Keep them in ghettos,” say White Landlords.

“Keep them enslaved,” say White Bosses. “Pay them a few pennies for working like dogs at our farms and factories.”

“Don’t let them go to our schools,” say White Teachers.

“Or churches,” say White Preachers.

“We may have lost the war,” say White Folk, “but that don’t mean anything has to change much.”



“Can’t keep Negroes out of public schools anymore,” says the Supreme Court.

“We do apologize, folks,” say White Principals, “but we got no choice. National Guard is forcing us to abide by the law.”

“Then we’ll take our kids out of those damn schools,” say White Moms.

“Let those darky schools go to hell,” say White Dads.

“Build ourselves better schools in the suburbs,” say White Teachers.

“Build ourselves better homes on the edge of town,” say White Folk. “But what if they try moving into our neighborhoods?”

“We already got you covered,” say White Bankers. “We’re drawing up maps with whole classes of people ineligible to receive home loans. We call it redlining.”

“That’s perfect!” say White Folk. “We’ll keep the plantation pure.”



“You can’t keep segregating those Negroes,” says U.S. Government. “Integrate them.”

“But it ain’t natural to mix blacks and whites,” say White Folk.

“It isn’t God’s design,” say White Preachers.

“We know what to do,” say White Wardens. “Use the penal system to segregate them.”

“How you gonna do that?” say White Folk.

“Send the black folk to prison,” say White Judges.

“Arrest them for any old reason,” say White Cops.

“Lock them up for a lifetime,” say White Juries.

“Make it simple for them to get guns so they’ll get in a heap of trouble,” says the NRA.


And so the number of incarcerated Americans rises from 200,000 in 1965 to over 1.5 million in 2010,[1] with Blacks being convicted by white judges and juries and incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites.[2]



“Can’t have a respectable lynching no more,” say White Folk.

“Then we’ll have legal lynchings,” say White Judges.

“What’s a legal lynching?” say White Folk.

“Capital Punishment,” say White Judges.

“We’ll arrest them for crimes they didn’t commit,” say White Cops. “For not wearing seatbelts. For driving downtown after dark.”

“For flirting with our daughters,” say White Dads, “which is another name for rape.”

“Get them to the judge anyway you can,” say White Juries, “and we’ll convict ‘em.”

“Then we’ll lynch them legally,” say White Judges.

And so blacks comprise a disproportionate 43 percent of executions and 55 percent of inmates awaiting execution, although they comprise only 13 percent of the nation’s population. [3] People charged with killing whites are three times more likely to receive the death sentence than those charged with killing blacks.[4] Capital punishment is most predominant in areas where lynchings were common.



“We got sophisticated systems to keep you weak, enslaved, oppressed and disempowered,” say White People of Influence.

“To keep you segregated,” say Wardens.

“Undereducated,” say Educators.

“Poor,” say Bankers.

“In ghettos,” say Gentrifiers.

“Lynched,” say Judges and Juries.

“And that’s why you’ll need to work extra hard to break outta here,” say Black Mamas.

“… to stay out of prison,” say Black Daddies.

“… to keep from hanging,” say Black Clerics.

“… to show them that you’re not gonna play their game,” say Black Teachers.

“Because you are better than that,” say a Rainbow Coalition of Partners.

“Because we need you to break out,” say Spiritual Brothers.

“Same as the indigenous people who need to break out,” say Spiritual Sisters.

“And immigrants,” say Spiritual Leaders, “and non-binary, differently gendered or otherwise excluded.”

“Because this Circle cannot be unbroken until all y’all join us,” say Kind Neighbors.

“Because we are Family,” says a Simple Child, “and when you hurt, so do I.”


And so a colorful collage of nations, genders, social classes and societal groups sit down to a beautiful feast at the same table, enjoying a joyful wholeness unknown to narrowly-classed people who cower behind tall, protective walls. This is what it means to be a Union of diverse people in these united but diverse states of America.


Image by Krishtpt35, Wikimedia Commons.

[1] “How Racism in the Courtroom Produces Wrongful Convictions and Mass Incarceration,” by Ella Wiley, Legal Defense Fund, 20 July 2022,

“Trends in U.S. Corrections,” The Sentencing Project, May 2021,

[2]  “Criminal Justice Fact Sheet,” NAACP, 2022,

[3]  “Race and the Death Penalty,” ACLU, 2022,

[4]  “Race and Death Sentencing in North Carolina 1980-2007,” Michael L. Radelet & Glenn L. Pierce, North Carolina Law Review, 1 September 2011,

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