Black lives remain largely disposable sixty years after Emmit Till’s death and a decade since the government’s lackadaisical response to Hurricane Katrina.
America today, as it does every year on August 28th, has no shortage of black history anniversaries to celebrate.
It’s been sixty years since the brutal death of Mr. Emmit Till, a 14-year-old black kid who, after allegedly flirting with a young white girl in a store, was the victim of a racially- motivated murder on August 28th, 1955.
Mr. Till’s badly brutalized body was discovered in a river by fishermen. An all white male jury choose not to indict those individuals suspected for his murder.
It’s been a decade since an act of God broke the levees in New Orleans, a city with an African-American population of nearly 70 percent at that time, and flooded the streets, ultimately killing up to 2,000 people.
The storm, named Hurricane Katrina and which was at peak strength on August 28th, 2005, was the costliest storm in America’s history and, despite other cities, states and races being impacted, the event is often considered one of black history, due in large part to Mr. Kanye West’s assertion, during a televised hurricane relief concert, that the President of the United States, Mr. George Bush, “doesn’t care about black people.”
Mr. West wasn’t the only individual to critique the president and other officials in the aftermath of the storm. Many criticized the government for a lack of planning and coordination, and some, like Mr. West, suggested that a more streamlined, urgent response would’ve been implemented in an upper-class white locale.
CBS Radio News reported in 2005 that New Orleans City Councilman, Mr. Oliver Thomas, said people are too afraid of black people to go in and save them.
And it’s also been 52 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28th, 1963, at the March on Washington.
To give context to the racial tension of the present-day, I will focus on the two events first mentioned in this article.
Yes, it’s true that the proverbial spark of life that ignited activists who today interrupt press conferences, campaign speeches and forums with the message that “Black lives matter” was the death of black teenagers Mr. Trayvon Martin of Florida and Mr. Michael Brown of Missouri. But what fuels, enrages, and sustains them, I would argue, is America’s history of violently disposing of black bodies.
Many talking heads, laymen and yesterday’s activists have said it’s wrong for these young freedom fighters to be so aggressive and adversarial in their civil disobedience, and that their assertion of “Black lives matters” is redundant, because, of course, black lives matter and ALL LIVES MATTER!
But the things is, historically, all lives haven’t mattered in this country, just white ones, which is why no one was convicted for the murder of Emmit Till; which is why many black people, who thought the government would rescue them after the storm only to realize they were on their own, died of thirst and starvation; and which is why Dr. King had to deliver a speech about ending racism.
Who exactly are we trying to convince when we assert that all lives matter? It’s certainly not black people who’ve witnessed, heard, experienced or read about unmitigated injustice and racism.
It’s certainly not the relatives of Mr. Till and I’m sure those New Orleanians who survived both an act of God and a dastardly act of government negligence don’t want to hear anything about how valuable their lives are to a bureaucracy who cramped them into a stadium without, at the least, sanitary provisions.
So why the need for today’s activists to remind the public that Black lives matter?; because history has told them otherwise.
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Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™