What do you think about when someone mentions Emmett Till? For me, it’s how young he was. How savagely he was beaten and how disfigured his body was, laying in his casket. What comes to mind, is the white woman, Carolyn Bryant, who accused him of touching and whistling at her, and how on her death bed, she admitted that she made it all up.
And I never really considered this before, but I think that every time the perp ID of ” Black male/female” is used to take the heat off of the actual criminal, or for whatever other asinine reason, I think of Emmett. It happened just the other day, it happened three times, in fact.
There was the Florida mom, Patricia Ripley, who murdered her son, who had autism and blamed it on two Black men before finally being caught.
Youth pastor, Christopher Keys, claimed that he was kidnapped by two Black men. In actuality, he had solicited the companionship of a male prostitute and was subsequently robbed; his lie was to cover up his embarrassment.
Then we have Amy Cooper, or Park Patty, as some are calling her. Who, when asked to leash her roaming dog by a Black man, told said man that she was going to call the police and tell them that an African American man was threatening her and her dog. And call she did, enacting her best frantic white woman tone and playing up her “fear.”
Of each instance I learned about, the image of Emmett’s mangled body popped up in my head. I quietly thought about him, and then outwardly discussed it, when my S/O mentioned that, he too, was reminded of Emmett. It stood out to me, how I winced when we talked about all of the known and unknown “Emmetts,” and how any of the recent occurrences could have resulted in similar endings.
In each conversation I had online, in person and over the phone, I was met with different variations of ” they’ve been doing this shit forever”. But the most passionate conversations had, discussed the whys.
Not that there was always a clear cut answer.
I mean, Carolyn Bryant never could answer why she lied on Emmett. In the end, all she could say was that he didn’t deserve his fate.
But I think the most poignant take away from my conversations, was how white people wield their whiteness/power as a weapon and use blackness to justify their alleged fear or “give weight” to some supposed criminal activity. Because the Amy Coopers, Patricia Ripleys and Carolyn Bryants know that nothing garners more sympathy (and action)than a mistreated or victimized white woman. Their fake tears are like the ultimate move deployed when you reach the boss fight of any video game. And just like any good villain boss, they know when to launch the attack for max damage.
There is an accepted truth, shared by Christopher Keys and others, that says that Black people are more violent and more prone to criminal behavior and this(in conjunction with ulterior motives) is what drives so many to place blame on us. Because it’s believable, not too far from the truth, don’t ya know? This “truth” is what gets women to cling to their purses as we pass by. What justifies a call to police when an unknown Black person is seen walking in your neighborhood..or jogging. Or napping, grilling, laughing, playing with their children outside, sitting in their car, entering their own apartment building or just… existing. “Black male or Black female” is the intro to so many 6 o’clock crime news stories, that are handpicked to air due to shock value, insidious motives and keeping preconceived notions alive, aka that “truth.”
So no, we’re not exaggerating, when we say that unwarranted calls to police and waterworks are violent. Those making the call know what the possible outcomes are, I’d even say some are hoping for certain outcomes and thus, these are intentional acts of violence. Even in the three cases mentioned, where no Black person was reportedly harmed, how many were stopped, frisked and/or detained before they discovered who the real (if any)culprit was?
When we reach a boss fight in a video game, we take security in our extra lives, reloadable save files or the ability to respawn at a checkpoint, if we die. But when that boss fight appears by way of a 911 call or untruthful perp description, what security do we have?
When JanayB isn’t posting memes, scrolling through “wokebook” posts, ordering food and otherwise being your typical millennial, you can find her here destroying white tears and basking in her unapologetic blackness. Get in touch with her at JanayBsays@gmail.com.