Posts filed under: ‘VIOLENCE AGAINST BLACK PEOPLE‘
Well, it is Black History Month. And I really can’t remember when this actually took place… the year when a young 15 year old youth went south to Mississippi from Chicago, to spend the summer with relatives in the south.
In looking back at a newspaper article on the story, I see where it took place in 1955. The summer Emmett Till went to spend what was to be his lastsummer visiting those cousins, and an aunt and uncle down south. Because somewhere during that visit in August 1955 it was said
that Emmett took certainly liberties with some white woman. He got out of place… he crossed that divide that colored and white were not to cross… because he was just being a young innocent kid… unaware of the do’s and the don’t of the then… and maybe still in some parts of the south.
Supposedly young Emmett while in this woman’s family store had told the white woman how he had dated a woman just like her up in Chicago. And upon leaving the store it was said that young Emmett Till gave that woman 1 of those big long whistles, that men did back in that time when they thought a woman was beautiful… somewhat of a wolf call or something.
It was that story of Emmett Till which always colored me and my thoughts about how when you leave home… if you lived north of the Mason/Dixon Line… how you should behave very differently if you were to go down south.
Something like how you had to remember when you crossed that line …that Mason/Dixon Line going into the south, that you were no longer in the north… or in your little Northern town or big city, like Chicago or Detroit. And how remembering this… that this ‘black and white thang’ could possibly save your life.
I recall once just we had crossed that line 1 summer on 1 our many drives south to visit my grand mother in the south, that once we pulled up to a motel where my mother sent me out to go inside and ask how much it would cost to get a room?
An occasional stop at a motel to freshen up used to be a habit of my family sometimes while we were making the more that 20 hour trip down south to Florida. But this particular day as I almost was about to reach for the door leading into the motel office, out came running two black boys… or teens… something I couldn’t really tell how old they were as they came running through that door shouting back to me, ‘Get of of here! Go! Go!’
I immediately ran back to our car and reported to my mother and father what those 2 boys had told me as they had whizzed pass me and shouted for me to get out of there.
Suddenly, my mother started screaming at me to get in the car… and she started hollering they ain’t gonna take my sons. ‘They ain’t gonna take my sons.’
Boy, I had never seen anything like it or ever heard my mother react in such a way. But years later I understood.
At that time my brothers were young kids… maybe 10 or 11 or something like that. But my mother having grown up in the south… my being a Jamaican had grew up in Jamaica so he had not really experienced any that Jim Crow stuff of the deep south. But my mother knew it well. And she knew that it would not matter to white folks that my brothers had not robbed or done whatever those 2 boys had done… but that they were black and that in of itself would have been enough for my young brothers to have been taken …in place of the real crooks or whatever they were who had come running out of that motel office.
I do not think we ever again stopped at another motel in all the years we continued to travel back and forth to Florida after that.
For years, I think that up until this very point I had always felt that Emmett Till should have been told how to behave, and carry himself while down there in the south. I always thought it was his mother’s fault for not sitting him down, and telling him how to behave down there when it came to being around white folks. It was the typical blaming that many people do when they blame the dead for being dead. Like some people blame Trayvon Martin for being out late… or out in the rain in that white neighborhood when he got shot and killed.
I thought that way because I was stupid. I was blind. Ignorant of the fact that many times it just didn’t matter what we did do or not, irregardless there was a very likely could still come up dead
He was a kid. And you could have told him something a thousand times, and would you believe you wouldn’t have to tell him it again… as we all do when it comes to talking to our children?
Emmett Till did not live in the south. Nor was there any reason for me to believe that what had been said regarding that story had been true. For you see, evidently I had believed something inappropriate must have been done for those white men to go in the middle of the night seeking this young boy, regarding something something he had said and/or done.
That is the irony of it. How readily we eat up the things we see or hear.
It had been a lie. It had all been a lie. And because some white woman had lied on her son, Mrs. Till was forced to go down to Mississippi and collect the bloated remains of her young teen age son, her only child… I think… and bring him back to Chicago in order to bury him.
Years later after Emmett Till had been viciously murder by a group of white men in the middle of the night, after going to his relative’s house and demanding that they send him out to them or they would burn them out and all up in their home.
How could that woman possibly live with herself after that?
Years later, I moved to Chicago and while working as a church secretary for a pastor by the name of Dr. A. L. Reynolds, Jr., I was told something by Dr. Reynolds, who pastored Sixth Grace United Presbyterian Church, at Cottage Grove and 35th Street, on the South Side.
Dr. Reynolds 1 day came into the office and for some reason began telling a story, of how he had had to run away from his home, which had been back in Arkansas. The reason he had to pick up and get out of there he told me, was because some white woman wanted him and he didn’t want her. That is exactly how he put it. He said, ‘she wanted me. But I didn’t want her. So, I had to leave.’ Because I did not want her to lie on me. Because in those days a white woman could say a black man raped her and they (meaning the other white people… mostly men) would kill him.
So, Dr. Reynolds said he got of Arkansas as quickly as he could.
And he said he left Arkansas running because he didn’t want her to tell a lie on him.
Through the our history in this country many black people have found it necessary to get up and get out of town in the middle of night, headed north or to other points unknown. Because they were afraid of some type of bad consequence which might take hold upon them… or befall them due to a lie… or some white person wanting something that belonged to them.
It comes to mind that even in Biblical text Abram lied. He was forced to lie when he and Sarah went to enter Egypt. And he became afraid that the king… otherwise known as Pharaoh… would want his wife, Sarai…as she was then before being renamed by God Sarah. Because the Bible says she was fair and goodly to look upon.
So, Abram felt that he would be killed by Pharaoh. So, therefore, told Sarai that they should say that he was her brother rather than her husband.
The end of this story is that Pharaoh and the people of his kingdom are overtaken by what the Bible calls a ‘great plague.’ Pharaoh questions Abram and asked him why he had not told him that the woman, Sarai… was his wife?
We come into the 21st Century now, some more than 60 years later and now we hear that the white woman who had told her husband and his white buddies, that Emmett Till had whistled and spoken to her… a white woman inappropriately… that she had lied.
All that pain and heartbreak … tears shed had been over a lie.
A young boy was pulled and dragged out into the dark of night… tortured and beaten …then partially burned and thrown into the river… to be found days later a bloated beyond recognition dead decomposing body. Because that woman lied. And now …I guess on her death bed… or on her near death bed she tells the truth… that she lied about the whole thing.
How did that woman do that… when she knew what the consequences for any black man would be?
She knew what times she lived in. But just did not care. She told that lie knowing that some out of control white drunken men were going to go and find them a white boy, and have what they called ‘have some fun.’ While they enjoyed torturing him and beating him…and eventually killing him.
How did this young boy respond?
Can you imagine what was going through his mind and heart… scared beyond his wits…
kicked…slapped…punched… stomped… cut… lit on fire…
And all because some white woman thought it nothing to lie on him. And me thinking years later that it had been his fault… because nobody every trained him properly how to behave around white folks.
This reminds me of how I hear black commentators on television now when they are talking about black men being shot and killed by white police officers. Everybody saying they should have kept their hands on the dashboard… or where they could be seen… or not moved too quickly… etc… etc… etc….
Blaming the victim because racist people still abound….
Well, God bless… It was sleeting a little bit this morning. But I hope it is nice and warm
where you are. Have a good day all… and remember it’s BLACK HISTORY MONTH. “pass it on…” http://www.bsmith101.wordpress.com ©2017
Add a comment February 8, 2017