Should we forget Emmett Till, but honor the Confederacy? Why we can’t have it both ways..
August marks the 60th anniversary of the murder of 14 year old Emmett Till. The timing could not be worse. In case you aren’t familiar, Emmett Till was a 14 year old boy visiting his family in Mississippi, when he whistled at a White woman while standing outside of a store. The woman, Carolyn Bryant, told her husband who along with his friend went to the home where Emmett was staying. The men took him at gunpoint, even though Emmett’s Aunt offered them money to leave him. The men took him anyway, beat him, shot him in the head, and threw his body in the river. When discovered, his mother insisted on an open casket viewing of his disfigured body. After the men were acquitted, they agreed to an interview for Look magazine and revealed all of the details of the murder. With no remorse. But, on the day of remembrance, in 2015, there was outrage from people who feel it ‘serves no purpose to bring this back up.’ I disagree greatly. Emmett Till’s life and death served a HUGE purpose. His death not only shed light on the Barbaric behavior inflicted upon Black people of EVERY age, but it set off a tidal wave of events that eventually led to the Civil Rights Act. Earlier this year, a young White man sat in a church (in the South) and after Bible Study, he shot 9 Black church members..because they were Black. Once pictures of the gunman, Dylann Roof, were revealed, they showed him proudly displaying the Confederate Flag. This set off a firestorm. After DECADES of complaints from Black lawmakers and constituents, White lawmakers finally decided it was time to remove Confederate flags from Federal buildings. And, so it was done. Which is the pattern of our history. Enter the next firestorm. Social Media exploded with outrage (mostly from White people), over this ‘disregard for our heritage’, or ‘You can’t erase history.’ Now, the latter, we agree on.
What exactly does the Confederate (Rebel) Flag? Racism. Separation. Disdain for the rest of the country that wanted to ‘do away with their way of life.’ What way of life was that? Slavery. Segregation. Of course there are those who will research and claim only ‘Southern Pride’, not Hatred. But, the reality is, the flag was designed to represent ‘Confederate Pride’..Let’s remember, the flag was first designed in 1861, at the start of the Civil War.
Earlier THIS YEAR, a group of Fraternity brothers chanted on a bus, while on their way to an event, ‘You can hang ’em from a tree, but they’ll never sign with me..Their will never be a Nigger SAE.’ Yes, that happened in 2015. Yet, we are constantly hearing that ‘racism is not an issue’, or the ‘younger generation doesn’t care about race.’ To add insult to injury, when the fraternity boys were caught, public sympathy shifted to them!? The phrase ‘their just kids’, (although the youngest was 19) or my personal favorite, ‘this doesn’t mean they’re racist’ is an immediate and offensive dismissal and only refuels the old imagery that racism doesn’t bother White people at all. It doesn’t effect them. We know that is not true. There were MANY White abolitionists, Civil Rights workers, and good citizens who spoke out against injustice and called it by it’s rightful name. There still are. But, unfortunately, they are being cast aside in favor of those who literally fought to the death for the exact opposite.
And, then, THIS YEAR, the University of Texas decided to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis. Remember him? He was the President of the Confederacy. Not the United States, the Confederacy. In case you missed it, the Confederacy was made up of the ‘Southern’ states, that chose to separate from the rest of the Union in order to continue owning Slaves among other ‘states rights’. This was the bases of the Civil War. And, along with President Davis, they even had their own flag. Over the decades since the war, the flag has been used prominently by the KKK and other White Supremacist groups. I can hear some of you say, it’s also used on ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ and Kid Rock videos. Well, honestly, Who can be mad at the Dukes or Kid?? We can’t confuse entertainment purposes with the promotion of superiority or divisiveness.
Yet, here comes the outrage. On the 60th anniversary of the death of Emmett Till, many are yelling ‘Race Baiting!’ at the media and anyone who wants to reflect on this blemish on our nation’s history. But, in the same breath, the same people want to honor a man who fought for everything we ‘claim’ to be against now. And, yes, I am a Southerner. And, yes, I am proud of it. But, when I think of ‘Southern Pride’, I think of: Blue Bell ice cream, church on Sunday and dinner afterwards, Collard greens, sweet potato pies, and fried chicken overflowing the kitchen table, where the word ‘Y’all’ is perfectly acceptable, and of course, the Dallas Cowboys. There are so many great Southerners who represent ALL of us and who are far more deserving of Honor, than those who stood for Divisiveness: Mark Twain, George Washington Carver,Virginia Foster Durr (a White woman who organized integrated community meetings and also bailed Rosa Parks out of jail for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a White woman), Amelia Robinson (who led the march in Selma), and Joel Spingarn, a white man who was one of the founders of the NAACP, and countless others. These Southerners represented Unity, awareness, and courage to strive for progress, not separation. But, we cry over a statue of Jefferson Davis being taken down? What’s wrong with this picture? We have to ask ourselves, which part of Southern heritage are we proud of? Which part do we learn from? And, which part do we flat out want to forget? I realize that the grandchildren of slave owners may not want to hear about the brutality and barbarism that their ancestors may have inflicted; Well, imagine that grandchildren of slaves and those persecuted during the civil rights movement do not want to sit quietly while Hate mongers and symbols of oppression are ‘celebrated’. It’s the true Heroes, who who fought for ‘one nation’ who we don’t want to see faded into the dust.
Am I race baiting? Because racism is dead, right? Maybe the SAE boys and Dylann Roof didn’t get that memo. Let’s look at the definition of Race Baiting: ‘The act of using racially derisive language, actions, or other forms of communication in order to anger or intimidate or coerce.’ Whether racism and denial of it, is still rampant can’t possibly be a serious question, when we are debating over whether to pay honor to Jefferson Davis, 60 years after the murder of Emmett Till. Distinguishing between which history to keep and which to throw away is just another form of Supremacist behavior. But, more will be discussed, revealed, displayed, and celebrated, in February. You know, that’s Black History ‘Month’.
And, that’s the view from ‘A Real American Girl’
Posted on August 31, 2015, in The HOT Topic and tagged civil rights, confederate flag, dylann roof, Emmett till, jefferson davis, mississippi, university of texas. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.