Artists are used to criticism, but nothing could have prepared Houston pop-jazz artist Erica Nichole for waking up to find a noose had been hung out side her home at South Rice and Chimney Rock over the weekend.
"I noticed it after I came home from my gig Friday night," says Nichole via email. "Basically, it wasn't there after my friend and I came into my apartment, and then an hour or so later, it was there. I have NO idea who would/could have done this. I have lived here 13 years, and NEVER had an incident like it."
The Houston Police Department responded to Nichole's call and helpfully took the noose down; Nichole says the officers were extremely polite and comforting. Still, they admitted there wasn't much they could do about the incident beyond suggesting Nichole contact her apartment complex's management to see if something could be done to prevent further incidents.
The noose has a long history of being used to intimidate and frighten blacks and other minorities. Before the Civil Rights movement, many found themselves the targets of lynch mobs dispensing vigilante justice. Even into the 21st century, there are ample examples of the knotted rope being used to express hateful racial sentiments. Just months ago another black Houstonian, Jeremee Molo, was the subject of repeated threats via noose at his workplace.
Nichole is shocked, but says she has no plans to leave her home. She's experienced very little racism in her life aside from an elderly woman in the '90s calling her the n-word.
"I'm angry, but I'm NOT going to move," says Nichole. "I want to ask WHY? Why would you be so immature? Why would you do something so immature and stupid? This individual must be a kid, I mean, what grown-up would do something like this?"
Nichole got started in music when she was in high school. Though she'd sang all her life, no one ever thought to try and cultivate her abilities until she was found banging out some surprisingly good beats on a friend's drum set. It was enough to get her up in front of people at church, and in 2008 she and her twin brother started up the E.Nicole Band.
Look for them to be back in the studio this August with New Orleans' Stephen Richard on saxophone.