(The photos in this article are of a few young black men that are associated with my life through friends and family. Do you value their lives as much as you do the children in your life?)
In August of 1955 a 14-year-old Chicago boy named Emmett Till went to visit his relatives in Money, Mississippi. While on his visit, he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the white married proprietor of a small grocery store in Mississippi. A few nights later Emmett Till was kidnapped and transported to a barn, where he was beat unconsciously and had his eyes gouged out of their sockets, all before shooting him through the head. His body then disposed of in the Tallahatchie River with a 70-pound cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. The two white men charged in Till’s death were acquitted of his kidnapping and murder, but later confessed in a magazine interview, protected by the law double jeopardy.
Emmett Till was a boy, a baby with hope that this world wasn’t as cruel as it seemed to be for African American boys in the 50’s and 60’s. Reality took it’s toll on Emmett and his family, but reality seems to take it’s toll on American black men and their families on a daily basis. What is that reality you ask?
“A black man is eighteen times more likely to be murdered than a white woman. The murder rate for black men is double that of American soldiers in World War I, and for black men between the ages of fifteen and thirty, violence is the single leading cause of death.” - “The Culture Of Fear” by: Barry Glassner
So how come you don’t care when we are killed? How come the deaths in our communities don’t touch your soul like the kidnapping and murder of Natalee Holloway, or Jon Benét Ramsey? How come when children in our communities are shot and killed they have no face, they are just another statistic to you? How come the laws become so technical when a young black boy gets shot and murdered? Court rooms get flooded with law definitions and reasonable doubt arguments, turning open and shut cases into acquittals and mistrials. Young black men still have little value in American culture and society. Even though the landscape of our culture is changing and becoming more acceptable to minorities and certain social groups, the idea of a black boy being equal to everyone else just isn’t there.
In the novel “The Culture Of Fear,” author Barry Glassner attributes fear as one of the main causes to the devaluing of black life.
“Consider Americans’ fear of black men. These are perpetuated by the excessive attention paid to the dangers that a small relative percentage of African-American men create for other people, and by a relative lack of attention to dangers that a majority of black men face themselves.” “The Culture Of Fear” by: Barry Glassner
Jordan Davis would have turned 19 this month if he hadn’t been gunned down by Michael Dunn for playing loud music at a gas station. Dunn fired ten shots into Davis’s fleeing SUV, killing him and injuring others in the vehicle. Dunn later claimed he felt threatened by Davis and acted in self-defense. Dunn was found guilty on the attempted murder charges, but the jury could not reach a conclusion on the murder charge of Jordan Davis. So who should you have really been afraid of? Throughout the entire proceedings, it seemed as though Jordan Davis’ character was on trial. The life of a murderer was seen more valuable than that of the young boy he killed. Trayvon Martin, was a called a thug on nightly television programs, and during the trial he was labeled a trouble-making, weed-smoking thug. Even the credibility of his friend was questioned simply because of her race. Trayvon Martin was no thug. Jordan Davis was no thug. What if your kids were black and called thugs? Would you pay attention then?
17-year-old Ethan Couch crashed his car into a group of innocent bystanders killing three people and injuring nine others. According to police, Couch was going 70 mph in a 40 mph zone, with a blood alcohol level three times the Texas legal limit. He was sentenced to therapy, no jail time. Ethan Couch is white boy. The judge, who was also a white woman, saw value in this young boy’s life. She more than likely has kids of her own, who could have been in a very similar situation. She couldn’t possibly destroy the future of this young boy by sending him to jail. She needed to save him, and herein lies the biggest problem in our society. No one feels obligated to save Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, or Emmet Till. He isn’t worth it to you. You don’t relate to his life; nor do you even try to relate to his life.
We must see the value in the life of every child or else we all fail. Try to put yourself in the shoes of Trayvon Martin’s mother, walk a day in the shoes of Jordan Davis’ father. Fighting the power is good, but becoming the power is even better. Political and urban activist Huey P. Newton once said “A people who have suffered so much for so long at the hands of a racist society must draw the line somewhere.” This is the line. Our children are being murdered and action must be taken by all of us. I’m not telling you how to take action or even trying to lead you in a certain direction with your purpose, but a purpose is necessary.
words by: @blogzworth
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