Bob Fischer, philosophy professor at Texas State University, was walking down University Drive toward Guadalupe Street with his friend from Turkey at the end of July when he saw a noose hanging from a tree.
His friend thought that it was a statement about suicide, but Fischer thought of recent news—such as the Charleston shooting and the protests that followed regarding the Confederate flag—and knew it was a racist symbol.
“If you grow up in America and see a noose hanging from a tree, you think lynching,” Fischer said.
Fischer took the noose down and notified the police. However, there was not a lot the police could do in this situation, Fischer said.
Fischer, a San Marcos citizen, said he has encountered situations in San Marcos before. The first of these experiences in San Marcos involved a mechanic using racial slurs in reference to illegal aliens. Fischer said his time in San Marcos has been wonderful, except for the isolated incidences of racism.
As a father of a five-year-old and a four-month-old, Fischer decided to pick up his pen and share his experience of finding the noose. He wrote an essay entitled “From Outrage to Integration” and The Prindle Post published it July 20.
“I could only imagine if an African American student had found it. That would be bad enough,” Fischer said. “But if a child had found it?”
Fischer said this incident has made him consider nonviolent acts of racism that occur on a day-to-day basis.
“(Current events) are more of a reminder that we are so far from where we want to be,” Fischer said.
Gary Moore, longtime San Marcos resident, recalls an era when racism was seen more frequently. He said he grew up hearing stories from his parents.
“You find a noose now and everyone is in an uproar. At one time racist behavior was normal,” Moore said. “San Marcos was just like any town facing integration issues. Now, at least, the racists are publicly called out.”
Moore has not read Fischer’s article.
“This is a great community and a great place to live,” Moore said. “I just wish all the citizens were great.”
John of Marvelous Smoke, who did not wish to share his last name, has been working at the smoke shop for two years. The smoke shop is within view of the tree from which the noose was hung, but he did not see it.
“We know there are all sorts of weird things (in the area),” John said. “But not direct racism.”
John said he has seen a couple of fights, but nothing he perceived as racially motivated.
“If someone in San Marcos is insensitive enough to hang a noose in a tree, how can we hope to deal with the problem of racial disparity in education?” Fischer asked.
One concept Fischer discusses in his article is the possible background of the person who hung the noose.
“Given the demographics here, it was probably someone much like me: white, male, from a middle-class background, raised in a fairly segregated environment, and perfectly polite and pleasant—even to people of color—in various professional circumstances,” Fischer wrote in the essay.
According to city-data.com, in 2013 the population of San Marcos was 51.1 percent white, 41.2 percent Hispanic and 5.2 percent black.
Fischer normally writes about animal rights issues. He said one of his articles is scheduled to run in the New York Times.
“I am very interested in continuing to write for the public interest,” Fischer said.
Fischer said he plans to cover a number of social issues in the future.
Follow Darcy Sprague on Twitter @darcy_days.