The least that I can do as a black woman is do well. My generation is one of a few to be born under NO CEILINGS. What I mean is, Slavery was over and Jim Crow laws were abolished. I was born into the arms of a mother that didn’t have to worry about the hurdles that have been jumped before the thought of my seed making it’s implantation ever crossed anyone’s mind. I was born with the notion that life is good and the success of the Civil Rights Movement signified the end of black struggle in America.
My people have made it! We are no longer three fifths of a human being, we are equals, we have rights, we are owning homes, and we are doing big business… When I was young, I believed this. Then one day, I grew up and seen things from a different angle. History seems to be repeating. I am seeing to many visual occurrences that are reminiscent of those back in The Jim Crow Days. It seems like we are entering a time where it is almost a danger to be black in America once again. I mean this statement in more ways than one. These days, it seems like you are even more of a threat if you are young and black. It is my duty as not only a writer, but a black woman, to say something about this.
Jim Crow is defined as: A series of laws that were racially unjust for people of color between the years of 1876 to 1965. This is right after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on September 22, 1862, setting all slaves in America free as of January 1, 1863. This is Right after the North won the Civil War. This was what the Civil Rights movement was really all about. The advancement for black people yet and still, equality. The law dictated who could drink out of which public fountain or patronize certain establishments. This legislation even addressed the entrances and exits that people could use. Jim Crow set the reminder that slavery was a long, generationally detrimental experience that did not end that long ago. Jim Crow laws were designed to further make the black unit inferior.
When I first saw the above picture of 17 year old Kendrick Johnson’s unrecognizable face, I immediately thought of the haunting picture of Emmett Till’s abused and battered corpse. Kendrick Johnson’s body was found rolled up in a gym mat at Lowndes High School in Lowndes County, Georgia on January 11, 2013. What makes it even worst is that the Emmet Till’s case was called Jim Crow, but now that it is 2014 (2013 when this crime happened) It’s called what, just an outrage? I mean, what’s the difference between Kendrick Johnson and Emmett Till outside of the time difference?
Look at the last pictures of both teens. They are graphic. These boys suffered when they died. Kendrick Johnson’s case is even more crazy. Some of his organs were reported missing. Now, you know something doesn’t feel right about this situation. There is no justice in neither one of these cases. At the end of the day, No body “won” and someone(s) got away with cold blooded murder. We mourn now, just to later disgrace their legacies in a rap song… (i.e. Lil Wayne “Beat the Pussy up like Emmett Till”)
We literally saw the evil of Jim Crow in Emmett Till’s case. To this day, the memory of what happened to him still hurts. He was a 14 year old boy from Chicago visiting some of his relatives in the Mississippi. It is alleged that he whistle at a 21 year-old white woman in a store earlier that day. The gesture was taken way out of context and the story ends up with them finding Till’s body in the Talahatchie River a few days later after he was brutally beaten to death.
After the March on Washington, and MLK’s and Malcolm X’s assasinations, and after we accomplished so much even in the midst of losing some of our leaders, I am stunned. I never imagined that i would live to see our digression back into the “Strange Fruit” days. At first, I really believed that Jim Crow was a thing that was over and done with but after Kendrick Johnson, I am forced to really look at Jim Crow’s past. I ask myself, where is Jim in our society? Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Oscar Grant. Hell, even the reasons behind the Watts Riots in 1992 makes you think. Jim is slick, He never left, he simply changed the game slightly…
It’s deeper than having a sign that says “No coloreds allowed” or “Whites Only”. Our children are dying. We get angry all over social media and we talk about it at the dinner table but, that’s it. We go to bed, get up the next day and press on with our lives until something else makes us angry enough to only start another pointless conversation.
When I hear “Stand Your Ground” I hear: “Jim Crow” The gap that lies after slavery and before the success of the Civil Rights Movement is riddled with tales and memories of Jim Crow. Jim Crow was getting black people falsely imprisoned, discriminated against, and killed all over the south. Not to say that those things stopped once Jim Crow laws were legally abolished, because they weren’t. Hatred and discrimination still exists today. Look at the Jena 6 and more recently, Marissa Alexander. Trayvon Martin was murdered and to add insult to injury, his killer is making a living off of being “The man that got away with murder”. This can’t be life. Where is our Huey P. Newtons, Eldridge Cleavers, and Angela Davis’s?
I was born without a dark cloud of worry over my head. Slavery, in a physical sense, had been abolished and The Civil Rights Movement already made history. It is because of my elders within the Black Community, my community, that freedom was a right given to me at birth. I didn’t have to worry about becoming an actual working slave at the tender age of 5 nor, have I ever been denied my right to a fair education and I can use any public bathroom that I’d like. I grew up in what is supposed to be a racially equal society. There was no need to go to the back of the bus or demonstrate sit-ins at various establishments. Those dues have all been previously paid…