February 12, 2015 kb

Hangman, Hangman, What Fruit Do You Bear?

Southern trees bear a strange fruit

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root

Black bodies swinging’ in the Southern breeze

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees


It’s curious, how no one knows the origin of the game hangman. A cursory search of various academic databases and archives yield a few results that offer a concrete tracing of its origins, if not its history. According to Wikipedia:

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How can we know so little about a game that bears the symbol of racist vigilantism? Might it have something to do with the fact that no one wants to acknowledge the fact that racism still exists and that this country is implicated with its racist history? Back in 2006 when the Jena 6 case came to light, there was little news coverage from national news outlets. I remember hearing about it on BBC first before ever hearing it mentioned by CNN. Oh, the irony.

Or maybe not.

Widdiful. Or, “someone who deserves to hang”. Derived from the Scottish word “widdy” and since then absorbed and phased out of the English vernacular. Nonetheless, the tree is forever intertwined with the image of an unwanted body hanging beneath it. Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.


The cries of family members, wondering if the person hanging in the breeze is their family member, their friend, their community member–all part of a guessing game.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is so crucial because it is forcing us to be confronted–on a daily basis–to the injustices black bodies face every day. Because in this society, it seems as if only black deaths matter. Because the black body is only there for the tree to drop.


(Gedankenwelt posts feature disconnected thoughts that I am currently wrestling with. They are not fully fledged arguments, nor fully nuanced, and should not be read as such.)


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