The issues that were presented during the tour of the Shaffer Chapel were some that I had no prior knowledge of. This includes both the tragic story of the lynching of the young black men down in Marion who were brought to the Chapel for their funerals, as well as the story of the insensitive drawing of the stick figure hangman on Ball State’s campus. These two stories provide information about ways that our society has changed over time and ways that it has not changed. There has always been racism, and there will most likely always be racism. The good news, however, is that we have progressed to a society that recognizes these acts of racism for the terrible things that they are. However, it is not enough to simply recognize, there also needs to be action.
Political geography can be seen in obvious and non-obvious ways in these stories. Perhaps it is more easily seen in the story of the lynching of the young men. Territory is a concept that is easily seen in the instance of the lynching of the black men by the Ku Klux Klan in Marion. While there may be no obvious or rather official ‘state’ that is holding influence or power over the territory of the KKK, it is not a far stretch to recognize the KKK itself as a makeshift state over their area of influence, or their territory. The KKK can be seen as the state in this instance because they are the entity that holds power and influence over the people who reside within their territory. The people of Muncie, who were brave enough to go into Marion and retrieve the bodies of the killed men, were recognizing the fact that they would be venturing into the territory of the KKK, and would be subject to their power if they were to be caught. Once they returned to their home territory however, there was a sense of safety and security-this being due to the departure from the territory that was identified with the KKK.
It is also interesting to analyze the idea that those in white robes who are obviously identifiable as KKK members are not the sole objects of the black community’s distrust in this instance. Venturing into this place of Marion, into the territory of the KKK rouses distrust for all those who identify with the territory. While we should know that not everyone who resided there was a white supremacist that condoned murder; however, they take on the identity of the place in which they live-and this is enough for them to be deemed not trustworthy.