As Americans prepare for Halloween by decorating their homes and yards with all sorts of spooky displays, some couldn’t seem to avoid controversy with some inappropriate decorations.
In Wisconsin, for example, Waukesha County resident Mike Grass’ football-themed Halloween display comes off at best tone-deaf and at worst, horribly racist. In a year where NFL players peacefully protesting police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem have received plenty of threats — including from the President of the United States of America — it was probably not a great idea for Grass to decorate his porch with skeletons in NFL jerseys hanging from nooses.
Grass insists the display, which has a banner reading “Titletown, USA” atop it, is strictly about football, but given Friday’s messaging from Houston Texan’s owner Bob McNair that protesting players are “inmates” who owners can’t let “run the prison,” the associations were easy to make.
In Salem County, NJ, a family has come under fire for a more ambiguous display featuring a stuffed dummy made to look bloody and bound hanging from a noose on their porch. The hanged man is displayed among more traditional decorations.
A resident at the home claimed he got the idea from a haunted hayride and was a big fan of horror. He said he hadn’t heard any complaints about it, and that he didn’t intend for any racial overtones, but acknowledged he would take it down if it was considerd offensive. The decoration hangs in a town that’s 94 percent white, NBC noted.
The local NAACP president said regardless of intent, “in this day and age, it has to come down. A lot of people have taken offense to it.”
The fact is, the U.S. has a long and terrible history of lynching well into the 20th and 21st centuries, and most of the victims have been people of color — a multi-generational trauma that many people aren’t likely to simply “get over” or forget.
In fact, in 2017, an eight-year old biracial boy was pushed off a picnic table by white teenagers while he had a noose around his neck, causing injury. The teens had allegedly called the boy racial slurs and threw objects at him before lynching him.