Picnic Mea Culpa

Susan Dean Gilbert mssmith at BOONE.NET
Sun Jul 21 17:42:51 UTC 2002

Ok. I re-read the article and even did a word search and I couldn't find it
either. Weird. I could have sworn I read that information  there. Maybe it
was another journal. My apologies to Smithsonian and to the author.
Susan Dean Gilbert
----- Original Message -----
From: "Rick H Kennerly" <Rick at MOUSEHERDER.COM>
Sent: Sunday, July 21, 2002 12:51 PM
Subject: Re: Picnic

> Read that same article this morning and wasn't struck by this particular
> passage, so I've read it twice more just now.  What is portrayed below is
> just not in my copy of the Smithsonian magazine.   Picnic is mentioned
> once, and then only while writing about crowds gathering for a lynching,
> nothing about the etymology or racial connotations of the word.  It's not
> the online version of the article, either.
> I believe the French form is piquenique (delightfully, in Hawaii, the
> British gave them the term picnic but the locals pronounce it
> idea how they spell it, though--and the parks are pickynicky parks, sounds
> fun).
> As long as we're in the neighborhood, I might as well throw in pickaninny
> (and it's various spellings) which also derives from a foreign word, the
> Spanish pequeño (small child) , but which, unlike picnic, has a long
> of offensiveness in the US and Caribbean.
> Of course, Ida Wells out Rosa-Parked Rosa Parks by refusing to give up her
> seat on a Tennessee train in the 1880s.  Her later crusade after the
> lynching of a friend's husband was the first organized public outcry
> lynchings.
> But this article made me aware that I carry with me a rather narrow view
> the term lynching, shaped, I suppose, by too many westerns.  While I
> understand it to be an extralegal mob action to hang a person (with overt
> racial overtone outside of western movies), the article uses it for ANY
> extralegal mob killing based on race, making the terrible
> dragging-behind-a-pickup-truck death of James Byrd up in Jasper, Texas, a
> lynching by this standard.  While I was aware there were a lot of terrible
> ways for a mob to kill a black, I'd just never come across the term used
> outside of a hanging.  What's the etymology of lynch/lynched/lynching?
> who was Lynch? or does it derive from Linch--a ledge or a right-angled
> projection?
> |o| Last month's Smithsonian(July, pp.70-77) had a wonderful piece
> |o| on Ida B. Wells and her advocacy for families and victims of
> |o| lynching. Clarissa Myrick-Harris mentioned that the word picnic
> |o| is believed to be a abbreviated or truncated synthesis of the
> |o| horrific practice of "picking" a "ni_ _er" and then lynching
> |o| him for sport while people sat around and ate lunch. She says
> |o| that today many African Americans see this term as insulting
> |o| and derogative.
> |o| What is the collective wisdom of the group on this one? Did
> |o| picnic come from this twisted originating matrix?
> rhk

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