We typically associate anti-black racism as being an exclusively American trait, so much so that we forget its pervasive impact worldwide.
On Tuesday, at a Russian government research and development office in St Petersburg, an “American costume party” was held, and one of its employees dressed in blackface and bound himself in ropes, depicting the horrific Jim Crowe practice of lynching.
A different employee, Anastasia Storozhilova, 23, tweeted a photograph from the party saying, “Today at work we hanged a black man.”
— TJ (@tjournal) March 4, 2016
After the Twittersphere erupted, she deleted the tweet, then her account, and subsequently her Facebook as well. Nonetheless, the damage was already done.
Speaking to Russian press, Storozhilova tried to explain that the racist stunt was just a simple reenactment of old American movies. Nonetheless, the image of four white people smiling while pretending to hang a fifth white person in blackface was undeniable.
As Shaun King notes in the NY Daily News, the lynching of people of color throughout the Jim Crowe era (and in some cases post-segregation) was often seen as a form of entertainment throughout the United States.
All too often, “postcards” were taken with large scores of white people – in many rural settings an entire town or village – smiling and celebrating this most vile form of premeditated murder.
One victim, Jesse Washington, a teenager accused of raping and killing a white woman, had MULTIPLE pictures used in postcards.
Upon pleading guilty on May 16, 1915, he was immediately dragged from the courthouse and lynched. All three of the photos below were sent as postcards chronicling the incident.
Given the history in America of mocking, enjoying, or being otherwise entertained by the lynching of black people, it is appalling that the rationale would be left at “reenacting an American movie.”
Instead, it is tragically yet another reminder that anti-black bigotry is not purely an American horror, but a global one very much in need of systemic change.