I read an article today that talked about how a black organization was exploiting the death of a black man, using the incident as “a springboard for an organized hate campaign.” The article talks about how community leaders are trying to promote harmony among the groups, but the “organized pressure group” was stirring trouble. While the writer of the article does admit the death of the black man was tragic, if blame for his death is focused on the people of the state of Mississippi, characterizing the whole state as racist, then those that are arguing that point of view must look to the state of Illinois, Chicago in particular, and blame them for the high crime in their state and city.
See, the young man that was killed was from Chicago.
Now, you might see where I’m going with this. “The city’s murder rate is increasing” was a statement President Trump mentioned recently. He has talked about the “carnage” of the inner cities and the high crime rate in Chicago, in particular. When there is a death of a black man by police, or by misguided citizens in the case of the young man in Mississippi, it seems easy for people to blame the victim. When groups come in to protest the death, the citizens of the cities close ranks. They distrust the outside people, often labeling them as outside agitators and organized pressure groups. There will inevitably be some “community leader” which translates into a docile minister with his own agenda in the town, who will talk about unity and peace. He is the one who will be in front of the cameras. He will be the one that the establishment will shake hands with, who will stand by the police and who can be counted on the calm peacemaker who will say it’s going to get better and we shouldn’t make the incident racial.
Carolyn Bryant, does that name ring a bell? Probably not. The incident I mentioned in the opening paragraph, about the black man whose death was exploited. That was from an article written by Tom Ethridge. The young black man he talked about in the article was Emmett Till. The article was written a few days after his death and in the article, he argued that the crime in Chicago, where Till was from, was far worse and deserved the focus of the NAACP instead of them coming to the South and causing trouble.
He did write “Two white men charged with the brutal crime are now in jail and a speedy trial within the month seems definitely assured.” That did happen and those two white men were acquitted after their speedy trial.
Carolyn Bryant is the white woman Emmett Till supposedly whistled at. I know it’s hard to imagine that a black man could be killed, just because he wanted a stick of gum, but that’s what happened. I say that sarcastically, of course, because we know black men and women get killed by police for all sorts of things. No matter what, when they are shot it takes less than a day for the blame to be shifted to them. I could go on about crime and justice and race in this country and it won’t resonate enough for people to do something. People were shocked and outraged back in 1955, but, as many white people at the time thought, if he hadn’t whistled at the white woman he wouldn’t have been killed.
It was recently reported that Carolyn Bryant lied in court. This is how the New York Post described what she testified to in 1955 in an article today –
She testified that Till had grabbed and threatened her inside the store – and that he had used an “unprintable” word when he told her he had been intimate “with white women before.”
“I was just scared to death,” she said in court.
Her conscious is clear all these decades later, relatively clear I guess.