Spann: Being Black in America is more than what meets the eye

Columnist Taelore Spann preaches the names of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Emmett Till. 

Columnist Taelore Spann preaches the names of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Emmett Till. 

Taelore Spann

Editor’s Note: This column contains descriptions of violence and racism. Sensitive content may follow.

Your childhood and experiences have an impact on the rest of your life. Ah, childhood. For most, this means going outside to play for hours on end. Some of the only rules might have been no running in and out of the house or being back before the streetlights flicked on.

If you grow up Black in America, you learn about the murders of Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and so many others who deserved so much more time and protection. (If you are white, you most likely didn’t.) You learn that making it home is a luxury that not everyone is allowed to experience.

A mother’s worst nightmare was brought to life after a certain son, Emmett Till, allegedly flirted with a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, while in a store. He was later kidnapped and forced to carry a cotton gin to the Tallahatchie River.

When he arrived there, he was forced to strip. He was then beaten. His eyes were gouged out. He was shot in the head. And he was tied to the cotton gin with barbed wire as he sunk to the bottom of the river.

When his body was finally found, his mother couldn’t even identify her own 14-year-old child. Even though his mother knew the brutality and the condition of her son’s body, she still elected to have an open casket funeral in order for everyone to see what happened to him. The two men that murdered Till were Bryant’s husband and brother.

Although Till was killed in 1955, the truth didn’t come out until 2017. The truth was in Tim Tyson’s book “The Blood of Emmett Till,” which revealed that Till had never touched, threatened or harassed the woman. Bryant also said, “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”

The murder of Trayvon Martin notions toward Black children that you could be walking back from a store with your skittles and favorite hoodie but still be harassed and possibly shot.

On Feb. 26, 2012, Martin was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, who claimed to have shot Martin out of self-defense during an altercation. Zimmerman, who was the leader of the neighborhood watch for a community, was recently burglarized. He was on patrol when he saw Martin walking back from the store. Upon seeing Martin, Zimmerman proceeded to call the non-emergency number to report a suspicious person. Against the police warning to not engage, he did so anyway. Moments later, gunfire rang out.

On the day Tamir Rice was murdered, his mother was told by a neighborhood child rather than a police officer concerning the force that killed her son. When she made it to the scene, she was met with seeing her 14-year-old in the back of a police car, Rice (her 12-year-old) on the floor of the gazebo surrounded by police as well as her 16-year-old, who was surrounded by police.  Rice was shot because of his toy pellet gun, which the officer thought was a real gun. In reality, Rice was at a recreation center playing. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Childhood is supposed to be a time of imagination, creativity and self-discovery. Yet, this child, much like many others, won’t see past their childhood. It’s the fate of the Black child.

The world we live in is responsible for stripping so many children of their innocence. People fail to realize that children are just as affected by the things adults are, especially since this world is soon to be theirs. These children’s lives have helped to create a determination in the minds of Black children everywhere.

So, again, I say Black Lives Matter, and I will continue to say their names: Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till and all other names of those who have died by the hands of bigotry.