Orginal Publication Date
Explorations in Sights and Sounds
Trudier Harris begins her impressive new study of lynching and burning rituals in black literature with a horrifying, albeit fictional, account of the three-hour torture, dismemberment, and murder (yes, in that order) of a black man and his wife. Alice Walker opens The Color Purple in a similarly shocking manner, with Celie's rape by the man we believe to be her father. The novel Harris quotes, however, was taken, detail by detail, from a real event, which she proceeds to document. The rest of her book is no less relentless in demonstrating that lynching and burning rituals were not simply hangings or auto-de-fes, terrible as those events are; more often, they were unbelievably extended barbaric acts, which provided well-attended sadistic circuses for whites.
Copyright, ©EES, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1986