(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