Marion Brothers

Marion Brothers

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Ghost of Emmett Till & Rise of Trayvon Martin

Is there ever a time when it’s too late? When the time is past, and the guilty has not even said “I’m sorry”.

Yes, I am looking. But I am not seeing what I hope and expect of all decent humanity; and that is, the empathy we should have one for another, as human beings, in the midst of a tragic situation such as this.

Did not George Zimmerman shoot 17-year old Trayvon Martin to death? Why am I not hearing or seeing what I’m supposed to see and hear?

Maybe the answer is in one-upmanship politics. Who gains what, for what in exchange?

Politics is the art and science of speaking to and speaking for a body of people.

It is not Left or Right, not Liberal or Conservative, not Democratic or Republican. These latter are inventions of Politics.

But the Trayvon Martin case has turned into politics, and the politics of it gets ugly.

On yesterday, I attended a Justice for Trayvon Martin rally at the University of Texas in Arlington, the same school I attended during the Civil Right movement days in the 1960s. On that eve, we attended a community prayer vigil on behalf of the Martin family.

This is groundswell politics, driven by the youth, and supported by black parents and grandparents everywhere. Young people see young Trayvon Martin as themselves- somebody more like them, than the hoodlum they are portraying him out to be. Black Parents, on the other hand, see in Trayvon their own teenage sons, and the dangers they face in a racially aroused society.

Grandparents, like myself, see another generation, with maimed and wounded idealism. Grandparents do not see the pie-in-the-sky Disney World that the children have been accustomed to. Unfortunately, we see the ghost of Emmett Till rising from the grave of racism that we had all hoped to have laid to rest.

Yes, there is a restless spirit creeping across Black America like the ghost of Emmett Till. I see every black community around the country in deep deep mourning, unlike what others can understand. Trayvon Martin was not just any black child. He was our child, our beloved grandchild; and if the youth marching in the street had their say, they would say as the signs read: “I am Trayvon Martin”.

Poor babies, indeed they are. The teenager's death is the cold-water-dash-in-the-face realization of every black parent’s worst nightmare.

The news of Trayvon Martin’s death was devastating, not merely because of his being added to the growing dismal and depressing statistics on the fate of young black male youth, but it was the merciless way he died.

Emmett Till was dragged out of his bed in the middle of the night, out of the arms of a loving uncle who could not protect him from the men who came to get him. They took him to a barn where they meticulously tortured him all night. They castrated him, cut off his ears and fingers and nose; and, if there was still a breath of life in the child’s body, they shot him through the head and dumped in body in the Tallahatchie River.

The memory cannot be undone and the ghost never forgotten. And neither do the lies concocted around his murder ever cease. They portrayed Emmett Till as a sexual menace against the sactity of a married white woman in the South. They claimed the 14-year old boy untoward advances upon the woman, by Dixie standards, warranted his lynching. We, as a Colored community, were forbidden to humanize or defend the teenager without we ourselves becoming contaminated by the curse of his stigma.

All Colored people are alike. They always defend each other, even in the wrong. That's what they said.

Now, we see the same type of vilification of Trayvon Martin. They have gone to great lengths in digging through personal records and pictures just to show that Trayvon was no angel. Why? For the very same reason they vilified 14-year old Emmett Till, so no one would humanize him or want to defend him.

This is why parents and grandparents try to teach their kids to always do the right thing, be in the right places, keep the right company, and stay out of trouble. Nobody has to tell us that our kids are not saints. And, they would hard put to produce saints of their own. But Trayvon was about as good a kid as any child, and most certainly did not deserve to be shot down like a dog in the rain.

It is too late to recast the image of the dead. It won’t wash with black folks, not this time, say black leaders and preachers all over the country. We are not buying whatever the spin doctors are selling. Neither will Black America be silent. This is one ghost that is not going away any time soon. This sin so egregious that we vow to never let the country forget.

Why? Mainly because there are other issues here that forms an unbroken pattern of discrimination, abuse, and murder. There is the issue of what why Zero Tolerance only affects our kids, while other kids are tolerated. Is it because, what we suspect, that teachers are looking at our young men and making judgment in their minds and seeing them as George Zimmerman saw Trayvon, as some kind of a thug? Is this why are young black males more likely suspended, why they are pushed into dropping out and wounding up in prison? Why they are discriminated against in employment and more likely to be pulled over in a traffic cop? Does being black and wearing a hoodie automatically makes them suspect?

When we were young, our parents taught us to never accept candy from strangers. Black parents, living in the South, had to go one step further, and teach their kids to seek safety away from bigoted yahoos who target Coloreds for their "coon hunting" sport. Though we still teach children not to accept candy from a stranger, we should not have to teach them to avoid all white people because of a few racially incited psychopaths lurking around with guns and licenses to shoot to kill anyone that appears to be a threat to them and their supremacy.

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