By Arelya J. Mitchell, Publisher
The Mid-South Tribune and theBlack Information Highway
Unfortunately, there is a generation of African Americans who know absolutely nothing about the murder of 14-year-old Black teenager Emmett Till in August of 1955.
Emmett’s mother, Mrs. Mamie Till, ordered that the lid of her only child’s coffin be flung open so the world could see that what was once an average teenager was now a mangled corpse with no resemblance of ever having been human.
It was the torture and eventual brutal murder of Emmett Till that sparked the modern Civil Rights Movement; that made in December of that year Mrs. Rosa Parks not give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus; that brought in a young minister by the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Yet, Emmett Till’s death has been buried along with him by a generation of Blacks who are apt to say that racism was once upon a time ago, that things have changed, that racism is a mute argument seeing that we now have an African America president, and all the other rose-colored epithets that dovetail quite nicely with white Americans’ idealism that racism no longer matters in America.
Then on February 26, 2012– 57 years later—the Emmett Till syndrome returns in a lost of life to 17-year-old Trayvon Martin who committed the crime of breathing while Black. Neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, white, took it upon himself after making a 911 call to go hunting Trayvon even after the 911 operator clearly instructed him not to pursue. In the 911 transcript (which was only released weeks later after his family’s protest), it was evident that Zimmerman was not going to be deterred, having told the operator that “These [expletive deleted] always get away.” Thus, the hunt began.
Typifying the men who brutalized Till, Zimmerman regarded Trayvon Martin as no more than a good kill when he engaged and shot to death a young African American male who was carrying only Skittles and a can of tea. A good kill.
Yes, it was a good kill. It was a good kill because law enforcers of Sanford, Florida saw no need to arrest Zimmerman or press him on ‘why’, pretty much in the same manner the law saw fit not to arrest the men in Emmett Till’s case. Yes, it was a good kill because these men barged into Till’s relatives’ house to retrieve him, pretty much in the same manner that Zimmerman pursued Trayvon Martin to retrieve him. Yes, it was a good kill because these men had weapons and whatever else they could get their hands on to slaughter an unarmed 14-year-old Till, pretty much as Zimmerman had a nine millimeter gun to kill an unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. A good kill.
Where there is progress, there is also regression. Where there is outrage, there is also acceptance.
Blacks with a 21st Century reality check are not surprised that a white, George Zimmerman, (as of this writing) has yet to be arrested by the Sanford,Florida Police in spite of protests and justifiable outrage from citizens of every hue. Why? Because these African American citizens with a reality check know that the nation’s unwritten operating theory is that Black children are expendable. This reality has been seen in the educational system where Black students are perceived as ‘un-teachable’ and ‘un-reachable’; it was seen during Jena 6 when nooses were hung in mockery of Black boys; it was seen during Katrina when beautiful Black children’s faces were populating mainstream newscasts, that had they been white children helicopters would have at least dropped food, water, and supplies for some type of temporary relief. After all, we have all seen numerous times how American state-of-the-art helicopters and planes drop food, water, and supplies to civilians of foreign countries such as in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan—our enemies, so to speak.
When Black parents and Black citizens accept this unwritten operating theory that Black children are expendable then and only then can progress be made in dealing with this reality where Black boys and young Black men as young as nine or 10 are being herded into orange jump suits, and groomed to populate prison walls for enhanced castration of mind and spirit and situated to go in an out of that proverbial ‘revolving door’ that renders them impotent as productive citizens, but make them game for a good kill.
However, one positive perception that has been shown during all this justifiable uproar was a Black father—Trayvon’s father—a Black man—standing up and fighting in response to this heartless murder of his son. The other positive out of this tragedy was the joining of a Black father and Black mother fighting for their child.
To all Black parents, you are the ultimate protector of your children from your house to the schoolhouse as clearly demonstrated by Trayvon’s parents who have taken on the leadership role in this fight to get justice for their child just as did Mrs. Mamie Till.
Every Black parent should invest in the DVD, “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till,”* which marked the first time a documentary by a Black producer was theatrically released. Producer/writer/researcher Keith Beauchamp had not been born when this tragedy occurred, and it was his research on this film in which Mrs. Mamie Till gave her last in-depth interview and blessing to, that spurred the U.S. Department of Justice to re-open the Till case on May 10, 2004 which eventually led to a conviction of Till’s murderers– but in a whole new century.
Every Black parent should then strap down little Black Johnny and little Black Janie and make them watch their Black History with the same commitment that Jewish parents teach their children about the Holocaust. This is not to instill hate but to invoke “Never again!”, an exclamation too many African Americans seem not to invoke until a Jena6 or Trayvon Martin happens. Of course, one can only guess how many other tragedies have gone un-reported or reported but nothing is done about them.
To that generation of Blacks who believe their children cannot be victims or shot down for a good kill, Trayvon Martin serves as a reality check. To a generation of white Americans, racism specifically aimed at African American males is not extinct.
It is up to Black citizens to pursue the perpetrator(s) with the same commitment as Jewish citizens pursued (and still do pursue) those who acted out hate under the guise of Law and Order (in this case Sanford Floridian law) to bring them under true judicial justice. It must be made clear that the killing of Black children will not be tolerated; it must be made clear that Black children are no longer expendable; it must be made clear that Emmett Till did not die in vain. No justice, no peace.
It is up to every adult Black male to be man enough to stop this unofficial genocide of killing off and incarcerating Black boys to aid and abet the eventual privatization of prisons as a thriving economic enterprise.
And if this bothers those of you who are under the allusion that racism is no longer relevant regarding Black citizens, especially Black males, who cares as long as you get it that Black children will not be used for target practice and will not be sacrificed as a good kill.
* More on Keith Beauchamp’s documentary, “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till” (from ThinkFilm Productions), is on the Emmett Till Lane, Movie Lane and Education Lane on the Black Information Highway and The Mid-South Tribune ONLINE at www.blackinformationhighway.com . The Mid-South Tribune and the Black Information Highway were proud to have hosted a premiere screening for this historic documentary and to have interviewed producer Beauchamp in 2005. Welcome, Travelers!