This is America: Emmett Till Lies, Smartphones & Cops

“Talk about entangled and coming at you fast, every day is a race against circumstances in my uniform of choice, geography and travel.  The normal morning coffee and commute are usually without incident and serve as a time of meditation and radio listening prior to attacking the organized chaos that unfolds one day after another.  Until it’s interrupted.  This July morning was different as the shift in topic by the host left me momentarily on pause.

The Department of Justice decided to reopen the case of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago murdered in the South more than 63 years ago.  A rush of anger, dismay, then numbness, rested within my spirit as I continued travelling towards my destination.  I settled on wondering how the family might feel considering a tinge of justice might be secured albeit it well overdue.  I later found this interview between a family member and NPR.    

As I parked my vehicle, I sat and thought about the alarming number of white people who have been captured calling police on black and brown people this year.  Calls made because residents have BBQed, campaigned, sold water, swam, celebrated birthday’s, used a coupon and rented an AirBnB.  This uptick is dangerous and for the most part happening in community spaces sparking conversation and hash tagging #BBQBecky and #PermitPatty in the process.

Sure, memes are created, folks laugh and the internet goes into undefeated no chill mode.  Until it’s interrupted.  It’s only a matter of time until these over-zealous actions slip into our workplaces and force each of us to determine how might we deal with these unnecessary micro aggressions.” – Torin


“Microaggressions, indeed, if you are unfamiliar with the case of Emmett Till he was murdered (beaten and shot) by angry white men who accused the 14 year old boy of whistling at and touching a white lady back in the 1955. As the legendary lie would go, they said that Till saw her, whistled, approached her and touched her on the arm while asking for a date. The white lady, Carolyn Bryant’s husband at the time, Roy Bryant and half-brother J.W.Milam were acquitted of the murder. Years later, she would remarry and become Carolyn Donham, years later Roy Bryant would die. Many years later, just about everyone surrounding the case would die, except Carolyn and the legendary lie itself. As old age befell her and guilt ate at her she finally began to tell the truth being quoted as saying, “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”

63 years later,  the Justice Department is reopening the case and I, for one, am happy to see that a lie has no expiration date. You might say, “what difference does it make, he’s dead now?” but it makes a huge difference to the family and black community who have been lied on for decades by white people for apparent reason. As stated earlier, this summer alone there are more than a dozen incidents of white people calling the police on black people doing absolutely nothing and thank GOD for smartphones so they can record the interactions and prove that they are doing nothing wrong. Those BBQ Beckys, Permit Pattys, and ID Adams are losing their jobs because of their inherit racist actions.

I don’t think people get it. This has been going on for decades, I recently spoke to a 9-1-1- Dispatcher and I asked her if she gets these sorts of calls and she said, “All the time!” she went on to say, “I just had a call yesterday where this white guy called us because his black co-worker cursed him out. They usually joke and play around at work but this day the black guy was not in the mood and said to the white guy,  “Leave me the f**k alone, I ain’t got time for your bullsh*t today”” which scared the white guy so he called 9-1-1.

Calling 9-1-1 or the police on black and brown people for doing nothing is dangerous and life-threatening, if a trigger-happy cop shows up it could cost an innocent person their life – and I am not overly exaggerating, we have seen it play out time and time again.” – Chris