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Still Thinking of Emmett and My Dad
4/8/2015 4:39:43 PM

By Hakim Abdul-Ali  

Life is a series of pages and chapters in our books of living that are sometimes hard to forget. Some are satisfying analogies, and others are sad tragedies to the mind's eye.
This is living reality in the evolving process of life, and one such page from my own personal life book's chapters is one of a particularly distasteful racial occurrence. It happened in August 1955 when I was ten-years-old.
The vexing news relating to this indelible event that came across America's "colored" folk airwaves of communication back then was that, somewhere, in the far off and seemingly villainous state of terminal survival for African-American existence called Mississippi, a young Black teenager was murdered. It shocked sensible and intelligent America, both White and Black, to the lowest pits of their heartfelt emotional souls.
In brief, the murdered young Black man's name was Emmett Louis Till from Chicago, and he was visiting relatives in a "his-storically" dark segregated corner of bigoted America called, of all places, Money, Mississippi. While there during the daytime, after only recently arrived from Chicago, he was said to have committed the ultimate crime and sin of looking at and allegedly whistling at a Southern Euro-American woman named Carolyn Bryant in a country grocery store.
For that unforgivable crime, Emmett, just 14-years-old, was later that night dragged and abducted from his great uncle's house and killed by two Mississippi Euro-American men, one of them being Bryant's husband Roy, in the most brutal and horrifying norm. An eye was gouged from his face and he was shot in the head and later thrown in the Tallahatchie River, his body anchored by a 70-pound cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire.
His body was located and retrieved less than a week after his callous murder. After his body was returned to Chicago for burial, and with his mother's approval, the site of Emmett Till's brutalized, mutilated and unsightly face, pictured infamously in Jet magazine for all the world to see at his funeral, still resonates painfully sixty years later in my mind, heart and thoughts.
I remember that I was told then by my father, who made me recognize that racism is a poison to young and old Black men, to never, ever forget what happened to Emmett. My father was a quiet, sensitive and reserved man of aware consciousness who also taught me to know that racism is a hidden venom to  everyone one of color or religious difference, and any "hue-man" possessing that quality can be, and is, a snake in the grass--so always beware. I have.
As old as I am, and until this very day, I've never forgotten my dad's private lessons about race and being of color in "his-storic" America. He told me that living among racist hypocrites, especially those who smile to your face, want your votes and stab you in the back with bigoted and religious slander, etc., can be a death knell to the spirt of all God Alone fearing souls.
Just looking at today's harrowing headlines, and in some of my own experiences, lets me know that there was and still is a lot of hidden truth to what my father was telling me about the greater menacing  scenarios behind Emmett Till's fiendish slaughter. Yes, Emmett 's death and my father's wisdom helped me know why I and other astute Black folk needed to say "Never Again" with an"our-storical" mindful perspective.
In my view, it's still an all out baleful, twisted-tongued mind game played out on an ever-present drama called survival in Black America. "Thinking of Emmett and My Dad" is always on my mind, because Emmett Till's brief life's existence and his immortal presence makes me realize that "Never Again," as an aware phrase of ethnic remembrance, survival and unity, must be championed by the African-American too, just as others rightfully lay claim to said phrase for reminders of them never forgetting crimes and sins that have been done to their kinfolk.
Even though I was not related to Emmett Till and his immediate folk by bloodlines to my knowledge, I was and am related to him by culture and ethnicity. Still I think of this young brothers's dreadful murder in that small Mississippi Delta town of Money and its relationship to today's towns of Ferguson, Missouri, and Sanford, Florida, with symbolic reflections. BLACK LIVES MATTER.
So, as a Black man of consciousness, and one who is "Still Thinking of Emmett and My Dad," I'm tired of seeing African-American men, especially the youth, die for reasons other than truth and safety. Unless you've been sleeping under a rock for the last couple of years you know that Black men named Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till and Michael Brown are youthful "colored" symbols of intertwined tragedies.
That probably is not a shocking reality to some folk, even today in the America's of their democratic  imaginations and wildest desires. Regretfully, Black on Black crime, especially among Afro-American youth, is viewed as no big thing to some Americans. Sadly, the viscous, wanton and aimless destruction of any Black is both a terrible disease and a torrid disaster to all ebony and other ethnic color living in the bald eagle's landscape. Never forget Emmett Till.
Violence kills and, sometimes, we are our own worst enemies.We must in Black America stop the endless cycle of the senseless killings that ravage our neighborhoods. Putting the Creator Alone first is the initial start to easing many of the negativism that confronts us in Black America. BLACK LIVES MATTER.    
Then, with proper and relevant education skills and unified familial communication, our communities can gain the necessary footholds into building mutual self-respect and uplift for our neighborhoods, no matter where we reside or call home. If you and I, along with other aware "colored" folk of all ethnicities, can and will do this, then the nauseating deaths of Trayvon, Michael and Emmett will not have been in vain.
Respectfully, please weigh this suggestion with an insight into how costly every moment extended to us by the Creator Alone is. BLACK LIVES MATTER. In the memories of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Emmett Till, peace and that's, "As I See it."              

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