The past and the present converge


I saw this headline, Tremaine McMillian, 14 year old with puppy, choked by Miami-Dade Police over ‘Dehumanizing Stares’ and thought almost immediately of Emmit Till another 14 year old African-American boy who was set upon and murdered by a gang because of a loud wolf whistle and wondered what is it about gestures and body language of 14 year old black  boys that makes people in power go bonkers?

I don’t remember much about being 14 years old, it happened so very long ago, but I didn’t weigh 150 pounds soaking wet so it wouldn’t have taken much or too many to subdue me, but in the most recent case a half naked McMillian was set upon by two officers because of how he looked at them.  It was clear he didn’t have a weapon…he barely had on any clothes; he was carrying an animal and he probably weighed less than I did when I was his age but there’s something about skin color and uniforms that makes people act in strange ways, and policemen and especially white policemen seemed threatened by black boys.

Emmett-Till-507515-1-402What happened to McMillian is the same as what happened to Emmit Till almost 60 years ago with the exception Till’s encounter with white authority resulted in the loss of his life.  He too was accused of indecent body language that his accusers felt deserved their attention and correction.  Although Till’s  killers were widely known they were never brought to justice which is almost akin to McMillian being charged with a felony because of his stare and demeanor…the demeanor of being a black 14 year old boy in the south which will result if not in a jail sentence, more attention from authorities because of the stigma such charges will bring.

What is it about this toxic mix of black male youths who are primarily defenseless and white authority that usually ends up so tragically for the former?  I know young people can be especially petulant and unyielding but is that reason enough to exert force that causes physical harm or even death which seems to be the outcome whenever these two ingredients of race and power come together. There are other parallels to be drawn from this combination of race and power….many of which are being played out in Washington, DC.  I wonder whether these young boys are being made examples of so that others don’t  grow up and become ambitious enough to think they can sit in the halls of power and tell others what to do; what is going on with Obama is motivated by  the same forces which are signaling to young aspirant black youth that Obama’s example is what will happen to them should they get too uppity and seek to grab the rings of power that have previously been reserved for only some.  The revolving door of race and politics continues to trap us until and unless we stop it and figure out how to get out of it!  Fix this America!

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