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Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees…

Posted by: Shark-Fu

In remembrance of those who lost their life due to the violent hatred of others.

Strange Fruit was written by Lewis Allen and made famous by the fantabulous Billie Holliday.

Breathe in…exhale…begin.


Southern trees bear strange fruit.

That’s right, I said enough.

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root.

I am sick and tired people casually discussing lynching another person.

Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze.

First there was an anchor from The Golf Channel joking about lynching Tiger Woods and now there is The King of Rancidity, Bill O’Reilly, debating whether Michelle Obama has earned a lynching.

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.


Pastoral scene of the gallant south.

It is time for people to unite in a zero tolerance policy for this shit.

The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth.

Records show that 3,437 black people were lynched in America between 1880 and 1951. That number does not include all homicides because lynching is defined as any act of violence inflicted by a mob upon the body of another person which results in the death of the person.

Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh.

Lynching has never, is not now and never will be anything but the act of a mob murdering a human being.

Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

The noose has never, is not now and never will be anything but the hangman’s tool.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck.

Lynching is not a joke.

For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck.

Hanging a noose is not a prank.

For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop.

Threatening to lynch someone is threatening a violent death by hanging.

Here is a strange and bitter crop.

And so…enough.

Shark-Fu practices the fine art of bitchitude at

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36 thoughts on “Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees…”

  1. Angel H. says:


    Too angry to write anything more coherent.

  2. Aaminah says:

    Spectacular writing/conveyence of this awesome matter. Thank you.

  3. nojojojo says:

    Damn, girl. Powerfully-written, and poignant, and true.

  4. jenn says:

    Bill O’Reilly is a very sick man.

  5. Truth says:

    Quite a powerful post. However, blacks do not have the market cornered on the term “lynch,” nor was it first used to describe “the act of a mob murdering a human being” (see definitions/discussion below). Lynching has become an ugly part of American history, no disagreement there, but to take offense to a casual use of the word is, at best, overzealous. Everyone should take offense to the history of the act of lynching and to the hatred that spawned those atrocities, but I don’t understand finding the mere word offensive.

    As for Bill O’Reilly, I wholeheartedly agree that he stepped over the line a bit. However, Mr. O’Reilly was using the modern-day definition of lynching, which more or less means an unsubstantiated attack (in this case, verbal) against someone. He very easily could have used the term “witch-hunt” in place of “lynching party” and NO ONE would have batted an eye. If the intent of the word is clearly understood, why the rabid backlash?

    With a bit of research, you might find at

    “Lynch is short for lynch law, the punishment of a person for some supposed crime without bothering with the niceties of a legal trial. All the evidence points to its being an archetypal American expression. For its origin we must look to Virginia in the 1780s, during the American Revolution. There is some doubt about which Lynch gave his name to the expression, since there were two: Captain William Lynch of Pittsylvania County and Colonel James Lynch of Bedford County. However, both were trying to bring order and justice to an area notoriously lacking both. It’s William Lynch who is usually mentioned in scholarly discussions, mainly — it seems — because documentary evidence survives of his efforts.

    It was only later that the term took on its associations with mob rule. And though it is now taken to refer to execution, usually by hanging, and most commonly in the twentieth century to the killing of black Americans in the South by whites, early examples suggest it referred to punishments that were less terminal. The compact drawn up with his neighbours by William Lynch in 1780 said of the actions of the lawless men troubling the area: “if they will not desist from their evil practices, we will inflict such corporeal punishment on him or them, as to us shall seem adequate to the crime committed or the damage sustained”. “Corporeal punishment” (an older form of the more usual “corporal punishment”) suggests a good hiding rather than capital punishment.

    The first appearance in print of the term that I know of is in a humorous article in The New-England Magazine of October 1835 under the title The Inconveniences of Being Lynched; the storyteller suffers being tarred and feathered on suspicion of being an abolitionist. Similarly, a news item in the New York Daily Express in 1843 refers to a man “lately taken from his house at night by some of his neighbors and severely lynched”, which sounds as though a harsh punishment was inflicted, but one falling short of death, since logic demands that it’s difficult to severely execute somebody.

    Interestingly, some recent examples of the term in print have returned to this older sense.”

    or at

    “Lynch’s Law,” of lynching, as such punishment has been called, did not at first include hanging.”

    And from

    “The origin of the word as it relates to hanging is lost in the fog of history. Historians differ on which of the following three incidents is the correct version:

    — James Fitzstephen Lynch, an Irish mayor, hanged his own son in 1493 for killing a man in Galway, Ireland.

    — In 1687, an Englishman named Lynch was sent to the American colonies to suppress a growing piracy problem. It has been said that Lynch hanged every pirate he could capture.

    — During the American Revolution, Major Beard, a Tory, hanged a group of patriots near Lynch Creek in Franklin County, North Carolina.”

  6. AgentX says:

    it appears that you, Angry Black Woman, are about to be targeted for a cyber lynching.

    The White Wing is in motion. Protect ya neck.

  7. the angry black woman says:

    but to take offense to a casual use of the word is, at best, overzealous.

    Let’s just stop right there. There is no “casual” use of the word Lynch in this context. Also, he didn’t “merely” use it. He didn’t say, “I want a ham sandwich. I read about lynching today. I like fairies.” He talked about lynching in the context of organizing (or not) a lynch mob (in the event he determines Michelle Obama to be too angry to live). He did not just say “Lynch” and the Internets exploded. he used the world to describe something he might want to HAPPEN. Words lead to actions, and he used the word in a completely inappropriate way. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, no history lesson, no rolling out of the dictionary, that you can say to make what he said not offensive and completely, utterly, wrong.

    It Is Wrong. Bottom line, no gray area, no arguing, no bullshit.

    If you do not get that, then you need to go back to church and get instilled with some morals.

  8. the angry black woman says:

    AgentX – yeah, I saw that bullshit. It’s completely laughable. Oh noes, liberal bloggers say they are black and angry! That means that they aren’t tolerant. *smh*

  9. Veronica says:

    This is a fantastic post. Well done and thank you.

    However, Mr. O’Reilly was using the modern-day definition of lynching, which more or less means an unsubstantiated attack (in this case, verbal) against someone. He very easily could have used the term “witch-hunt” in place of “lynching party” and NO ONE would have batted an eye.

    Bullshit. The fact is that he didn’t use the word “witch-hunt.” He chose a word that is loaded with over a hundred years of racist violence. This modern-day use of the word that you cite is insulting and disgusting; it trivializes racist mob murder by suggesting that such murder is like verbally attacking someone. It’s like using “Nazi” to mean someone who’s strict instead of someone who participates in state-sanctioned genocide. Such use empties the word of its cultural import and papers over the violence it really signifies.

  10. Veronica says:

    Well, and also, ABW, what aren’t you tolerant of? Racism and misogyny? Because that sounds good to me. No reason to tolerate that bullshit.

  11. A. says:

    I just love to see how Oreilly tries to get himself out of this one.

    Olbermann is going to pwn him.

    Also, last I recall, the term lynching — “After the war, lynching was a method of terrorism used to intimidate freed blacks who were voting and assuming political power. A study of vigilante justice during the period of 1868 to 1871 estimates that the Ku Klux Klan was involved in more than 400 lynchings. Blacks were lynched often because they were accused of crimes committed against whites, however, journalist Ida B. Wells showed in her investigations that many presumed crimes were exaggerated or didn’t occur at all.”

    Keep in mind that lynching is also a hate crime. Let’s think f WHY it is a hate crime and not just a regular form of murder.

  12. Shannon the Tampa Diva says:

    Very moving, the noose is making a strong re-emergence in popular culture. it’s a damn shame

  13. Aaminah says:

    Sorry, but I am not one “angry” woman right now… I am PISSED.

    The “original” use/meaning of the word has nothing whatsoever to do with what it is most commonly understood to mean today. There are words that have a particular connotation, no matter what they once upon a time referred to: crusade… lynch… these are just two of many. These words will never again be peaceful or useful in any intelligent discourse. There is no longer anything “casual” about their use. They are not terms that should be used in jokes to minimize the horror that they contain. There is no excusing, saying “that’s not how he meant it” when we all KNOW what it means… O’Reilly (and others) is not some five year old child repeating something he heard the big folks say but doesn’t know why it’s wrong.

    You cannot downplay history, sanitize it, make it palatable, by simply referring farther back into history and claiming an innocence that was clearly lost at some point.

    Truth, if reading this post didn’t give you pause… didn’t give you goosebumps, didn’t bring tears close to the surface, didn’t call to mind a real person lost, didn’t constrict your throat or your heart in the least… you are one cold cold person. That you can read something this deep and try to gloss over it… there is something inhumane in that. And you are so on the wrong blog to be admitting it…

  14. joankelly6000 says:

    Au contraire, people! You have missed the point entirely – it is way more important for a dude to point out that a presumed angry black person does not have squatter’s rights over the word “lynch” – WAY more important than whatever else is going on here.

    If you could just get your facts straight, you would not have been scolded so. Have you not heard of Merrill Lynch? I suppose Merrill and I both owe you an apology now, ay?! Pshaw with your pointing out of the lynching terribleness and the rejection of white people’s right to joke about it! Pshaw I say!

  15. Revena says:

    This is a really powerful post. I’m going to be thinking about it for a long time. Thank you.

  16. Julia says:

    ugh @ Truth. Are you Bill O’Reilly in disguise? Your comment sounds just like the stupid shit he spews. Have you not noticed that lynching references like this one just don’t seem to happen to white people? hm.

  17. Dianne says:

    Records show that 3,437 black people were lynched in America between 1880 and 1951.

    Depending on how the data was gathered, this is probably an underestimate of at least an order of magnitude (i.e. one could estimate that at least 34,000 black people were lynched in America during that time period.) And yes, I am worrying about the numbers because I don’t want to deal with what they mean.

    Here is a list of places to call or write to complain about O’Reilly, not that I expect Fox to listen to any of us, but registering the complaint made me at least feel like I might be doing something about it.

  18. Juan says:

    I think the FCC should be contacted as well.

  19. Sonam says:

    Honouring those who came before us, too many who died because the colour of their skin. I will never be able to understand man’s inhumanity to man. I weep, and then I get back to my work as a Human Rights Activist. Aaminah made some very interesting points to me. No, you cannot sanitize it, it happened in my lifetime, and I fought, and continue to fight for equality for all human beings. Several years ago my daughter wanted me to meet her new friend, she was about 7 at the time. At a school concert I met her new friend. My daughter pointed her out as “she is wearing a yellow sweater and has yellow ribbons in her hair”. She did not mention that her friend was black. I was fascinated by this and have my community which is extremely multi-cultural to thank for this. In grade school my daughter and a friend, both white, signed up for an after school program about Black History. I few people asked why I would place my daughter in that class. I wanted my daughter to learn and she did receive so much in that class and the outings they took. Education is an amazing tool. Teaching our children that all people are the same, what they want in life, family, education, friends, opportunities. The comments here have made me so sad. When will it end? I fought in the 60’s and now I will have to fight again so all people so people do remember their humanity. A man I admire very much, Romeo Dallaire, “Shake Hands With The Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda” has stated what many do not have the courage to say, that the world is still racist. If it was not, the hundreds of thousands of people who died in Rwanda would be alive today. Just one example of ‘strange fruit’ in another context. I think Bill O’Reilly has a lot to explain, his comments are totally unacceptable. Namaste

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  22. Angel H. says:

    lol @ Joan Kelly!

  23. iamnotstarjones says:

    i guess the fcc deems janet jackson’s boobage fine worth but
    not o’reilly’s verbal garbage.

  24. iamnotstarjones says:

    let me try that again:

    I guess the FCC
    deems Janet Jackson’s boob during America’s biggest holiday fine worthy but
    Bill O’reilly’s verbal garbage is fine.

    In my world, someone would do a video on youtube using O’Reilly’s words over lynching footage to drive the point home
    just how callous and uncouth this
    individual is.

  25. deesha says:

    “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

    “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

    – Martin Luther King Jr.

  26. Lmary says:

    JoanKelly you are a total FOOL!! And your snide smugness doesn’t play here especially since in order to be a ‘smart ass’ one must first be SMART which you have yet to prove. The point is you don’t say something as a ‘joke’ you know is a very,very sore spot with others and for good reason. Would it be okay if a black commentator made a joke about ‘bombing’ Bill O’Reilly knowing he’s Irish and that’s a sensitive subject with them?!! And DUH b—ch nobody is bothered by Merrill Lynch because it’s his name but you to make jokes that you know are going to piss someone off is not only malicious and hateful but thoughtless as well. The world is no longer YOUR oyster to pick a pearl and I for one don’t follow your mantra of ‘do as I say not as I do’.

  27. Lmary says:

    But I feel the BIGGER problem might not be O’Reilly but token idiots and ‘house niggers’ like those on “The View” and black voices in the media who either ‘defend’ sick,stupid comments like this or ignore them alltogether. If you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem and it seems a lot of black people in the media are more concerned with paychecks and airtime then speaking out over anything significant. Which makes any complaints all the harder to be taken seriously.

  28. Aaminah says:

    Lmary, once again you prove you should keep quiet more often… and take the time to read more before you respond.

    Joan was TOTALLY being VERY tongue-in-cheek and mocking the stupidity of those who can’t see why the word “lynch” would still be offensive. We all know her and where she was coming from and what she was saying. Obviously you don’t know her, and have never read any of her other comments to recognize her for the very sincere and thoughtful ally that she is.

    And don’t you EVER call a woman here a “b–ch” as if you have ANY right to be name-calling and disrespecting women on this site.

  29. Lmary says:

    Oh sorry you’re right I don’t know Joan and I’ve never read any of her comments and that’s why I was so quick to take offence especially when there are those who WERE quick to defend his comments the minute he said them. As for the ‘quiet’ comment even if I’m not always right I have just as much right to voice my opinion here as ANYONE else so who are YOU to tell me anything. As for the ‘b’ comment maybe she didn’t deserve it but frankly some women are ‘b’s’ and I only call it like I see it so when you earn my respect you’ll get my respect.

  30. Lmary says:

    Oh and I’m very sorry Joan I wish I could read some of your other stuff 1,000,000 mea culpeas.

  31. A. says:

    You obviously have learned nothing about this blog.

    Look at the many people who were put on moderation, hon. Look at the people who have been banned. Kid, this is not a democracy. This site is moderated, and, if ABW chooses to moderate your responses or possibly ban you, you have no one but yourself to blame.

    Get over yourself, get up, dust yourself off, and seriously read and check yourself before commenting. Because seriously, not checking yourself in this blog will get you wrecked something awful.

  32. Aaminah says:

    Lmary, you have the “right” to express yourself only so far as you respecting that this space is someone else’s. If you really want to be able to express yourself fully, in all your ignorant “glory” and not be called on it, I recommend you get your own blog, which is then your own space and you have complete freedom to make a fool of yourself without getting your butt kicked for it.

  33. Lmary says:

    And what YOU shouldn’t because you are just the world’s most glorious voice or something?!! And I have a lot of respect for Miss ABW but that doesn’t mean I haven’t to have any for you seeing how it’s not your site either. And frankly cheap threats ove the internet don’t scare me for a minute so why don’t YOU get over your little bully tactics and arrogance because you could get ‘wrecked’ yourself.

  34. Legible Susan says:

    You just keep digging don’t you? Everybody that says boo, and a lot that don’t, you have to pick a fight with. Why don’t you take that energy and do something constructive with it?

  35. nojojojo says:


    Uh, no. You do have to have respect for other people here. The only people on ABW who don’t merit respect are racists and others who don’t respect the rules of ABW’s house. Those rules are clearly stated up in “The Rules”, which you’ve been here more than long enough to read.

    I’ve warned you in other threads about turning abusive on other posters, and you just insist on doing it. I asked you before not to call anyone a bitch, and here you’ve done it again — removing some of the letters doesn’t change the fact that you did it. And you’ve also managed to hijack this thread, turning it from a conversation about LYNCHING — LYNCHING!! — to What’s Wrong With Black People Version 2534.99. No, whatever’s happening on “The View” is NOT a bigger problem than forgetting the horrific reality of lynching. Why the hell is it that every comment you seem to make revolves around the same stupid, hateful broken record??

    I’ll tell you why — because you have some serious issues with internalized racism. You truly need to deal with those issues because YOU’RE. NOT. HELPING.

    I’m sick of this shit. I can’t put you on moderation — I’m just the guest moderator — but I’ve asked ABW to do so. It’s her call now.

    LYNCHING. Of all the fucking things to derail. My damn head hurts.

  36. the angry black woman says:

    Yeah. And now I get to step in and say that Lmary is now on moderation. I put off doing it for too long because there was some good to be had from the dialog she generated (though the good did not come from her). However, the abuse, insults, name calling, and thread hijacking are too much to ignore.

  37. A. says:

    See, Lmary? Didn’t I tell you that you seriously need to check your attitude at the door?

    Now you’re on moderation. Guess it goes to show you that those threats weren’t too cheap there.

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