When the Ku Klux Klan said they would use “lethal force” against protestors in Ferguson, a deepened chill coursed through my veins.
I first learned of the KKK in the 3rd grade. During Black History Month, my teacher read through a picture book about the Civil Rights Movement, and on one page, a watercolor picture of white hoods in white faces stared at me. Although only 8-years-old, I remember feeling terrorized. The realization that there were people out there who not only hated me, but was willing to kill me, based solely on my skin color, was (and still is) deeply troubling.
Ever since, the KKK has been ingrained in my racial consciousness. They are inexplicably tied to my identity as a Black woman, and serve as a constant reminder that, in fighting for racial justice, the journey is violent and deadly.
Ever since my introduction to the Klan in the 3rd grade, I’ve tried to keep their existence at a distance. I tried to tell myself that they’re an obsolete organization; a fixture within a historical framework, without nearly as much clout or political power in the 21st century.
To some extent, I’m correct. Although there’s no centralized membership database, their numbers have plummeted, as have their reach within socio-political circles due to their public maligning.
And yet, given the whitewashing of racial history, there’s an overwhelmingly erroneous belief that they no long walk, gather, or mobilize among us.
Anonymous reminded us that this is not true.
This weekend, members of the premier hacktivist collective launched Operation KKK. With hashtags #OpKKK and #HoodsOff, Anonymous hacked into KKK digital networks, and revealed the identities of Klansman primarily in the St. Louis-area.
The results are jarring. From corrections officers, law enforcement, and educators, #OpKKK showed just how entrenched the Invisible Empire is in polite society.
But nothing compares to when Anonymous took control of the Klan’s Twitter account.
The unveiling of one of the most dangerous elements of society is a direct action I’m sincerely thankful for. The notorious hooded symbol is one that evokes fear and terror in the hearts of many. This is where the Klan’s root of power stems from. And without it, they are nothing.