Visual antis

One of my students, in a paper entitled “The North won the war, but the South won the peace” wrote, “In 1866, a group of white southerners, who were upset about losing the Civil War and the direction of Recon- struction, decided to create a group of visual antis that would use violence to ensure white supremacy.”

It took me a moment. It didn’t hit me right away. My pencil circled the pair of words, “visual antis,” and then it struck me. Wow. Pretty amazing how some people learn and how some people hear, eh?

I don’t know about you, but I think the costumes of the KKK were definitely a manifestation of being “visual antis” to the movement of civil rights for newly freed African-Americans during Reconstruction. And they manifested their being “visual antis” in lots of other ways too. Hmm… not a bad creative word transformation.

I should have some sympathy for this student. After all, the word “vigilante” IS an unusual English word. In fact, it is spanish for “watchman” and was first used in the 19th century american “frontier” to describe groups of people who selected themselves as law enforcement, where there wasn’t any law and not much enforcement.

I love my job.

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4 Responses to Visual antis

  1. Michael says:

    Funny. I stopped to think about “visual antis” before completing your BLOG. I came up with the thought that the student was walking about a way of instilling fear and violence visually and against the accepted thus a Visual Anti(s) although I would have capitalized both words. Think of the fear inspired by the KKK costume and the burning crosses etc. Think of how we have been kept frightened by the colors of the terror alert. How’s that?

  2. JEROME BLOOM says:




    I SAID






  3. Mrs. Chili says:

    Oh, they were antis, all right.

    Aren’t we the luckiest people in the world to to the work that we do?

  4. Meryl Jaffe says:

    What a great post! I just love it. And reading it I have two polar reactions. The first is how fragile language and communication can be – we have to chose our words so carefully and so often regardless of our care there are misunderstandings (often because speakers/writer/ listeners think of words differently). BUT then I also think how amazingly flexible and fluid our language is. What a great new word – ‘visual antis’!

    Have you ever read FRINDLE by Andrew Clemens? It is a young adult chapter book about what makes a word a word. If you haven’t read it – I think you will thoroughly enjoy it – and it is a quick read!

    Great visiting – I look forward to more.

    All the best,
    Meryl Jaffe

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