Rainn Wilson slams racism denial with a 'chilling' photo of a noose hanging in his friend's yard.


Michael Loccisano/Getty (left) Rainn Wilson/Instagram (right)

This photo should strike terror in the heart of all of us, as it symbolizes a heinous piece of American history.

Rainn Wilson, the actor best known for playing Dwight Schrute on NBC's "The Office," has taken to Instagram with a photo and a story that reminds us that racism in America is unfortunately alive and well.

The photo shows a tree in the front yard of a suburban L.A. home with a noose hanging from one of its branches.


"So my friend Jamey texted me this photo," Wilson wrote. "Looks pretty innocent at first, right? But when you learn that he and his sister are African American, the photo turns instantly chilling. This was hung in a tree in her front yard in suburban Los Angeles, to be found by her seventeen year-old daughter."

Imagine being a 17-year-old Black American, stepping out your front door, and facing this scene. Would you feel safe? Would you feel protected? Would you feel that America is a place where racism isn't allowed to thrive?

You might feel understandably threatened. You might call the police with your concerns. That's what Wilson's friend did.

"When the police were called they said, essentially, 'what's the big deal?'" Wilson shared. "Yolanda lost it. What's the big deal? Well, officer, the noose is the symbol of lynching which was used to hang thousands of African Americans, especially by the Klan. Granted, this is a pretty lame noose. Might have been made by some local kids or something. Who knows. But the fact is it is as strong a symbol of racial hatred, violence and oppression as a Swastika."

Yes, this is 2019. And we still have to explain the history of lynching in America and why a noose hanging in a Black person's yard is, in fact, a big deal.

Wilson explained that far too many Americans are in denial about racism in the U.S.

"Many folks are in denial about the extent to which racism exists in our country in 2019," Wilson continued. "Just ask a Black Person. They will tell you stories."

(For the record, asking random Black people to share their stories of racism for your own education isn't actually a great idea. Basically, that's like asking people to open their wounds so you can look inside to make sure they're actually hurt. There are countless stories of racism that people have graciously shared online and in books that you can read without asking for extra emotional labor to be done. Alternatively, try truly befriending some Black people and wait for them to feel comfortable enough with you to open up and share.)

Wilson shared another story from his friend:

"Jamey told me today that last year, while playing golf, he was looking for his ball in the brush and a white guy who wanted to play through called out 'Hey, you can hurry up, we don't have you picking cotton anymore!' Not sure if he was trying to be funny or not but literally Jamey's great grandfather was an ACTUAL SLAVE on a plantation and was regularly beaten there. That's not that long ago. Great grandfather. And, perhaps, a relative or two of Jamey's were lynched. Or saw a lynching. Or heard of a lynching. And now, his niece gets to be reminded of what hate looks like. Right in her own front yard in suburban LA."


If your first response is to assume this story is a 'hoax,' think long and hard before sharing that thought.

People who want to deny that racism is a real thing are already twisting themselves into knots trying to call this story a hoax. Here's the problem with that:

1) Hanging a noose in a Black person's yard is racist no matter which way you slice it. Even if it was set up as some silly schoolyard joke, the joke itself is racist and harmful, and obliviousness to that fact is a clear manifestation of racism in our society.

2) Assuming or implying that a Black person you don't know would set this scene up themselves to get attention is a racist assumption. If you believe that Black people make these things up more often than not, then a) You clearly aren't close to very many Black people, and b) Your mental image of Black people is racist. If your automatic presumption is that this can't be true, then you you haven't been paying attention to the last several hundred of years of American history and/or you are looking at that history through a lens of white supremacy.

The impulse to automatically question or challenge a Black person's story is a racist impulse that needs to be checked.

And checking it really isn't that complicated. It's not hard to choose to listen to thousands of similar stories and believe them. It's not hard to recognize that racism didn't just magically disappear with the Civil Rights Act, especially since large numbers of people actively opposed its passage. It's past time to shift the benefit of the doubt toward the groups who have been demonstrably abused and silenced in our country, and to speak out against racism whenever we see it rear its head.

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Andy Grammer, the pop singer and songwriter behind feel-good tunes like "Keep Your Head Up," "Back Home," and "Don't Give Up on Me," has a new album out—and it is seriously fabulous. Titled simply "Naive," Grammer says it's "all about how seeing the good in todays world can feel like a rebellious act."

"I wrote this album for the light bringers," Grammer shared on Facebook. "The people who choose to see the good even in the overwhelming chaos of the bad. The smilers who fight brick by brick to build an authentic smile everyday, even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. For those who have been marginalized as 'sweet' or 'cute' or 'less powerful' for being overly positive. To me optimism is a war to be fought, possibly the most important one. If I am speaking to you and you are relating to it then know I made this album for you. You are my tribe. I love you and I hope it serves you. Don't let the world turn down your shine, we all so badly need it."

Reading that, it's easy to think maybe he really is naive, but Grammer's positivity isn't due to nothing difficult ever happening in his life. His mom, Kathy, died of breast cancer when Grammer was 25. He and his mother were very close, and her life and death had a huge impact on him.

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via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

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"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

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via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

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The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

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