From Emmett to Trayvon | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

From Emmett to Trayvon

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JFP Editor Donna Ladd

When I was growing up, I was horrified when TV westerns showed horse thieves being hung or shot. Clearly, stealing a horse is not cool and requires punishment. But by death? My response: Thank God we lived in a more moral society than the old days when such barbarity was acceptable.

As I grew older, I was disgusted to learn just how violent our own state was toward nonwhites who simply wanted the right to vote and attend the same schools as people who look like me. It was sobering to learn that, when I was a child, grown white men in my hometown hunted down black people like they were animals and killed them with no trial, suspicious that they had committed a crime. Over the years, I've forced my mind open to the fact that young black men have been the most hunted and terrorized group of people in American society—often due to what a white man thought they might do.

The story of Emmett Till, who was tortured and murdered by a group of white men a few miles up the road in Money, Miss., when he was 14, is the ultimate symbol of this truth. The men brutally murdered this boy because they believed that his supposedly flirting with a white woman put her life in danger. They were raised to believe that.

What is most stunning about Till's execution is not that evil men did something bad. Sadly, that happens. No, the most awful part is that the society around them thought it was an appropriate way to deal with their inherited fears. The jury believed that—as did most white Mississippians. The men were so confident they were justified that they later admitted the crime to Look magazine, after an all-white jury acquitted them despite strong evidence of their guilt.

The tragedy in that case, and so many others like them, was the complicity of a so-called moral and Christian society. We live in a state where many white people have believed myths about African Americans since slavery. It made twisted sense: It's hard to justify owning other human beings for free labor if you believe that they are the same as you are. So it seemed necessary to spin yarns about the enslaved while destroying their self-esteem and family structure.

One of the prevalent lies persisting today is that black men are more violent than whites. The irony, of course, is that the violence that persists today among young blacks is a direct result of them being the most hunted and demonized Americans in our history.

I have a book on my office shelf, "Race and Reason," by Carlton Putnam, that whites widely distributed in our state and beyond in the 1960s. The book is filled with "scientific" myths designed to prove that black people are less intelligent and more violent than whites. Written by a Yankee academic, no less, folks used it to justify the kinds of practices that have helped create today's continuing problems that young black males face. Whether it's growing up in poverty, as sons of single mothers and fathers imprisoned as a result of the drug war (usually for longer terms and for lesser crimes than whites), or because they are constantly considered guilty until proved innocent, the prejudice that is so ingrained in our state's and nation's consciousness is still haunting America and hurting us all.

And those lies are causing America to again do really stupid and inhumane things.

As a young adult, I at least felt good that we were moving the right direction, if not quickly enough. Jim Crow had been overthrown, allowing many of us to go to school with kids of different races and economic status—a vital part of any good education (which is sorely missing in many good schools, including in the Ivy League).

Somehow that forward progress has been thwarted. When I heard that George Zimmerman had killed an unarmed black boy because he feared what that boy might do, I immediately thought of Emmett Till. I prayed that the societal response would, nearly 50 years later, be different, proving us an evolved nation.

I am white, and I want to see fellow white people be different than they were in my childhood. I want them to stop assuming the worst about nonwhites. I want them to learn and use history, even uncomfortable parts, to help make our world and lives better and safer today. And perhaps most of all, I want them to want justice for all, not just white people.

Alas, we're not there, yet. Zimmerman is not the most sympathetic character, and Trayvon Martin was a pretty decent kid, certainly as decent as the children of many prominent white people I know. Regardless of the outcome of that trial, white Americans had the chance to show that we're different now, and not prone to easy assumptions about children of color.

Unjust trials happen. Rapists and murderers go free (sometimes due to bad cops) and people with money buy their kids out of trouble, as less privileged kids go to prison. Neither trials nor laws are always just.

No, the test that so many white people have again failed is that of basic humanity and morality. No matter how you look at it, what happened to Trayvon was wrong. We whites need to act like we get that. We need to participate in changing our society so that a paranoid or angry man cannot shoot and kill a young black man just because he is afraid the kid might do something wrong.

The tough part is questioning why so many whites are still trapped by historic myths. Too many still believe that black males are likely to be dangerous or commit violent acts. They buy that it is OK to make those assumptions, to profile them before they do something wrong and even kill them to make sure that they don't. That is what happened to young Emmett in 1955.

In so doing, we guarantee that many young African Americans will continue to feel hunted, hopeless and devalued. As so many of us obsess about crime, the irony is that these attitudes are exactly what makes it worse. Either you get that black crime has historic roots or you accept Putnam's argument, which is the definition of racist.

Crazies will always be there, and we will always have to deal with them. But when trigger-happy men shoot kids of color under cover of Stand Your Ground or Castle Doctrine laws, and mainstream whites rush forward to defend them, we have a more severe problem. And when politicians pass laws to make it easier for a man in Jackson to walk outside and kill a teenager allegedly trying to steal his car, without even a police investigation, we might as well be hanging horse thieves in front of City Hall.

Take a cue from John Grisham's "A Time to Kill." Imagine if the kid killed in the man's car had been from a "good" white family. Maybe on a dare from his private-school friends, he tried to steal a car. I promise that the reaction from whites would involve outrage and statements that it was a "waste" of a talented life. It would have been investigated. The man who shot him might even go to jail, at least for one night.

Until we live in a society where white people assume that the life of any child- (of any color) is valuable, we will not live in a just or colorblind society. Until we all start treating our young people like they matter, they will not believe that they do. And that is dangerous, and tragic, for every one of us.

Comments

donnaladd 3 years, 10 months ago

I just got this letter from a white woman too cowardly to sign her name to it (although she sounds a lot like an attorney who obsesses over black people I've sparred with before). I might have more comments later, but I find it funny that she says I don't have the right to be outraged over the Zimmerman verdict (which isn't really what the above column is about; I'm outraged over ignorant societal excuse-maling like hers')), but she apparently has the right to be outraged over the OJ verdict.

For the record, I too was outraged over the OJ verdict, as well as the white supremacist detective who made it near impossible for a jury to believe the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. It's funny that so many whites try to compare that case to this one. It's a terrible analogy that actually supports my argument, but they're clearly too busy defending men who kill unarmed black kids to see it. Sad.

I also find it befuddling that we're also supposed to be outraged by crimes by black people (seriously, who isn'?t; they disparately populate our prisons already), but aren't supposed to discuss the societal roots of the crime, which can help us change reverse the cycle. It scares me that someone who thinks in such a limited, facile way about a whole race of people is in the legal profession. Might explain a lot.

We can be better than this. We must be.

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Duan 3 years, 10 months ago

She has a typical case of "Selective Outrage" - she wants to call out the irony of certain crimes - when crime should not be broken down into groups.

I'm pretty sure some arguments can be made for doing so - but for the record, I'm just clearly stating my opinion, I don't think you can. But for statistical purposes it is broken down in to demographics.

But there is outrage behind black on black crime; now as far as black on white crime - it depends on who you ask? From my perspective - O.J. Simpson is the only black person that I cam think of, that was arrested for murdering two white people, went to trial and not convicted.

Anyone else - I'm pretty sure they were convicted.

But I know of plenty of situations, where a white person has killed a black person and they were not even arrested for doing so.

So I don't think we want to go and start comparing who has it worse in some regard to obtaining justice.

But instead of looking at a partial picture - she really needs to make an honest effort to look at the whole picture and make an honest effort to get a broader perspective from a diverse group of people.

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Knowledge06 3 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps the 'Lady In The Letter' should read some FBI Statistics:

Total Arrests (2011 complete year) 9,499,725 - White - 6,578,133 Black - 2,697,539

Murders: White - 4,000 Black - 4,149 Rape: White - 9,504 Black - 4,811 Burglary: White - 151,934 Black - 72,244 Drug Abuse: White - 783,564 Black - 371,248 DUI: White - 788,175 Black - 111,480 Sex Offenses: White - 38,422 Black - 13,189 Weapons: White - 68,453 Black - 47,515 Fraud: White - 84,919 Black - 40,621

That's just some of the categories. Now who should be afraid of who?????

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justjess 3 years, 10 months ago

@Knowledge06

"That's just some of the categories. Now who should be afraid of who.????"

Great question! Last week, one of the TV stations reported a Starbucks Coffee Shop located here in MS where armed patrons sat and drank coffee; This was a demonstration of their support for the NRA and MS's open carry law. The message was: WE ARE NOT AFRAID.

What would have been the reaction if 10 armed 18yr old African-American males and two Hispanics - armed to the letter, walked in - sat and asked to be served coffee?

Think about it. Do a visual and report back.

Just asking.

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bubbat 3 years, 10 months ago

@Knowledge06- The reaction to 10-18yrs blacks or more importantly any 18yr would be based on how they are armed. Rifles or shotguns I see no problem, handguns yes there would be a cause for some concern.

A 18yrs can't legally buy a handgun but can own one if it's a gift and the only place I know they can legally carry it openly or concealed is in their car because it an extension of own homes so anyone can 18yrs or older and at a gun range or organized shooting event.

I don't think a 18yr old can legally open carry on their person outside of their cars, home or property. I know they can't get a CCW permit.

But really I have no concerns about anyone openly carry an handgun their race doesn't matter. I spoke brief with a black family at the range today shooting at the next bay, they were very well arm, should I have been concerned?

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bubbat 3 years, 10 months ago

@Knowledge06 again...lol I think a factor you and the letter writer need to consider is population percentages. She needs to remember that Jackson is what 80 something percent black, of course the black on black crime is going to better highest percentage. You the U.S. is still around 73% white same thing of course the number are going to show white commit more crimes in the U.S.

Guess both of ya'll sleep through a few math class. :)

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bubbat 3 years, 10 months ago

@ Donna- Till was murder and Martin was shot and killed in self defense. No comparison other than them being black.

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donnaladd 3 years, 10 months ago

I have a bridge to sell you, Bubba.

Again, Bubba, you're not reading carefully. This isn't about the verdict. It's about people like you who crawly devalue the lives of a kid like Traymon and lionize a dangerous loser like Zimmerman. Y'all worry me more than himn.

Both sets of killers claimed the unarmed black kid was going to do something bad and went after them. Very similar as history books will show. You're on the wrong side of this one but won't see it any more than Till's killer's defenders did. The jury found them innocent, too, you know.

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bill_jackson 3 years, 10 months ago

An unlikely scenario, as one must be 21 to own a handgun. But nice try anyway.

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Duan 3 years, 10 months ago

@ Knowledge -

That is a solid point when you look at the numbers - but when you take the numbers and compare that to the rest of the population.

For example - there are 150 million white/European-Americans in America - while there 33 black/African-Americans in America.

So when you compare averages - it doesn't paint a pretty picture of African-Americans.

However, if you don't look deeper into the numbers - such as poverty, education levels, access to rehabilitative services, and opportunities - then it doesn't bode well for perceptions.

But I do understand where you are coming from - just wanted to give you the flip side to your argument.

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bubbat 3 years, 10 months ago

Donna- Till was killed because he was black, Martin was killed because he was trying to bash Zimmerman head in on the sidewalk not because he was black. What was he suppose to let Martin do that because he was black?

As for he following Martin before that because he was black, I really don't have a problem with that, they had problems black teenagers breaking into homes, doesn't make a lot of sense to follow strange White, Hispanic, or Latin teenagers around to see what they had not been breaking into house. And before some say the 911 dispatcher told him that they didn't need him to do that, he was under no legal obligation to obey a 911 dispatcher, nobody is, that was said right after the call tapes were released.

I don't devalue either of their lives, it tragic when a young person dies, no matter what their race, but I can see one was killed by a bunch of racist and one got killed while he was trying to bash somebody's head there's a difference and you can't see that because you can't look pass race on any subject and I am completely right about that. :)

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Knowledge06 3 years, 10 months ago

Duan, I understand that logic but that's a play on numbers. THAT rationale is the reason why no one talks about the ACTUAL numbers. When only speaking in terms of a RATE, you can manipulate your argument to mean anything. You can't manipulate the ACTUAL numbers. If I have a town with a population of 100 and they have 1 murder, their murder rate is the same as a town with a population of 1000 with 5 murders. It's a game to mask what's really going on. When was the last time you saw or heard a white political leader (or any white person for that matter) talk about the need to combat white on white crime, or underage drinking (where the arrests for whites under 18 is 92% of ALL arrests nationwide). And there is silence! You haven't, don't and won't! The majority of crimes committed against whites are by other whites as well as crimes committed against blacks are by other blacks. They focus on ours (blacks) because of the RATE and refuse to focus on theirs (whites) based on the ACTUAL numbers. Of course we have issues within the black community and my comments don't minimize that. But the white community is going to have to acknowledge their issues and place them out front as easily as their focus on ours!!

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notmuch 3 years, 10 months ago

First, I have to acknowledge that I was somewhat sheltered from the abhorrent behavior of some (okay, more likely many) Mississippians in the early '60's. I began attending a Catholic school in 1960, so I never attended a school where racial segregation was practiced (Insert derogatory comment about religious discrimination here). In fact, the first time I ever heard the "n word" uttered, my mother sternly walked out into our front yard, snatched up the offending speaker of that word, and took him inside our house, where she "washed his mouth out with soap". Many of your readers are probably too young to remember that form of punishment for lying or saying "dirty words", but it was regularly practiced back then. My mother gave a brief lecture to this child, in view of several of his friends, explaining why that word should never be used. She also told him that God could just have easily decided to put his soul in a black body instead of a white body, and that we are all created equal in His eyes. She then called the child's mother and told her exactly what had happened; the other mother thanked her and assured her that further punishment would await the offender at home. Luckily, my mother did not live during these times, or she would have probably been prosecuted for child abuse.

Donna, if you truly believe that Emmett Till's murderers killed him "because they believed that his supposedly flirting with a white woman put her life in danger", you are more than a little naive. These human pieces of garbage savagely tortured, mutilated, and murdered a 14-year old child because they were ignorant redneck cowards who, like a gang of street thugs, thought this was the proper way to deal with the fact that they were offended that someone they perceived as inferior to them had the audacity to speak politely to the wife of one of them.

You stated "One of the prevalent lies persisting today is that black men are more violent than whites." I'm sorry, but I am going to have to go with the statistics on this one. However, I also agree that historical factors are in play. You apparently have inside expert psychological knowledge that I do not possess, since you have determined that the violence among young blacks "is a direct result of them being the most hunted and demonized Americans in our history". I am not sure about the hunted, but by far the most demonized American is the white, Christian, heterosexual male.

You also have different information on the Martin/Zimmerman conflict; I was not aware that Zimmerman "killed an unarmed black boy because he feared what that boy might do". I thought it was because Martin jumped Zimmerman, sucker-punched him, and..okay, I guess you are correct--Zimmerman probably did fear what Martin might do next--he probably thought that the next time his head was slammed into the ground he would be out of options.

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notmuch 3 years, 10 months ago

It is a terrible insult to the memory of Emmett Till to compare his death to that of Trayvon Martin. Emmett Till was an innocent child who was brutally tortured and murdered because of the color of his skin. Trayvon Martin might have been a "pretty decent kid" as you describe him. He is certainly not the only 17-year old who had been suspended from school for two weeks. He is probably not the only 17-year old who had purchased Skittles and the canned drink that comprise two of the three ingredients of "purple drank" that night, while sending phone messages in hopes of finding the third ingredient, codiene cough syrup. He is probably not the only 17-year old who had sent a message that he was looking for a fight that night. I am not going to criticize a 17-year old for falling into the trap of drugs, gangs, and fighting, because by the grace of God, I was born into a better circumstance. I am not criticizing his parents either. His father knew he could not trust him to stay out of trouble in Miami for two weeks with no school to attend, so he sent him to Sanford to stay with his girlfriend. His father did lie to the police the next morning that he had last seen Trayvon about 30 minutes to an hour after he was killed, since he had no idea where Trayvon was, but he was probably trying to do the best he could for a 17-year old heading in the wrong direction. None of this justifies his death. However, if there is any comparison to Emmett Till, my opinion is that Martin acted like Till's killers--he wanted to prove his manhood to Rachel Jeantel, who had told Martin that Zimmerman was probably a homosexual who was stalking him, so he ambushed Zimmerman as he was heading back to his truck. Unfortunately for all parties, Martin's assessment of Zimmerman as a pudgy, out of shape "cracker" who would be an easy target to beat up did not account for the fact that the second amendment gives Americans the right to defend themselves against attackers.

The "sadly predictable" letter written by "a white woman too cowardly to sign her name" (not to be confused with "bellesouth1", who of course is not cowardly since she agrees with you 100%), is truly sad. It is sad because of the facts she states about the selective outrage regarding crimes in our country. I never really thought O.J. would be convicted--after all, he played football, so he must be a really good guy--but part of his lawyer's main closing argument to the jury was that this was their opportunity to somehow "correct" past verdicts of not guilty against whites accused of killing blacks.

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notmuch 3 years, 10 months ago

It is sad when the race pimps like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are totally silent when a white person is killed by a black person, or a black person is killed by a black person--I can't recall a response from either one of them when white 13-month old Antonio West was shot at point blank range in his stroller by two black teenagers because his mother did not have enough money to satisfy them when they robbed her. Her offense was being white in a neighborhood that is 73% non-white. Of course, President Obama's children could not look like Antonio, so no outrage from him either.

There was brief news coverage, by Nancy Grace, of the trial of 44-year old Mona Nelson, a black woman accused of killing white 12-year old Jonathan Foster with a blowtorch, but Nancy abandoned her coverage as soon as she realized it was a black defendant accused of killing a white child. Al? Jesse? Are you there?

What about Raymond Widstrand of St. Paul, MN, who was out for a walk last Sunday evening when he make the mistake of walking through a group including gang members, who knocked him to the ground and savagely beat and kicked him, sending him to the hospital where he remains in critical condition? Authorities say the assailants were members of the "East Side Boyz" gang, or possibly an affiliate group, the "Ham Crazy" gang (seems like that should be a southern gang, but apparently not). Of course, no need to mention this in the media since Raymond is white, and doesn't look like Trayvon or Obama's kids. Al and Jesse? They probably can't believe Raymond would be so foolish as to expect to be able to walk through his neighborhood safely.

Now that I think about it, I don't recall Al or Jesse being upset about the six black men in Knoxville who car-jacked, then bound, gagged, and raped Christopher Newsom, cut off his penis, set him on fire and fatally shot him in the back of the head, neck and back, while they forced his girlfriend, Channon Christian, to watch. Channon Christian was beaten and tortured for four days, gang-raped in every available orifice for four days by all of them, while they took turns urinating on her. They cut off her breasts, scrubbed her with bleach, which was also poured down her throat, in an attempt to remove DNA evidence, before they covered her face with a trash bag, and put her body in five large trash bags, before leaving her inside a residential waste disposal unit, covered with sheets. The medical examiner said there was evidence that Channon slowly suffocated to death.

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notmuch 3 years, 10 months ago

Even closer to home, a high school friend of mine who lives in Aberdeen was confronted in his back yard a few months ago by a 17-year old black male demanding money. He was able to turn quickly enough to avoid the first shot, aimed at his face, but the second shot entered one cheek and exited the other. He made it to his back porch, where he was beaten with the gun, knocking his teeth out. He called for his wife, and the thief ran away. My friend, who is on the road to recovery after having reconstructive surgery and living with his jaw wired shut for a while, happens to be white, but if the races were reversed, I would expect Al and Jesse to proclaim this as a hate crime rather than a robbery attempt.

Yes, selective outrage is alive and well. It is my hope that selective memory will not follow, but I am saddened to hear the words of those such as Oprah Winfrey, who seems to have forgotten a lot of her Mississippi civil rights history, as evidenced by her stated opinion that the Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin deaths are "the same thing".

I apologize for the excessive use of space, but this is only the tip of the iceberg.

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js1976 3 years, 10 months ago

"Duan, I understand that logic but that's a play on numbers."

It's more commonly known as statistics.

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Duan 3 years, 10 months ago

@ Notmuch

"It is sad when the race pimps like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are totally silent "

That is what I would call a "Selective Outrage" comment.

Because if you consider them (Jackson & Sharpton) race pimps - what would you consider the following people: Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter and Paul Gallo are just a few that come to mind that have very assertive opinions in race matters.

If you are going to be angry about race baiting - you need to call out on both sides.

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notmuch 3 years, 10 months ago

I have never heard any of those you mention as having "very assertive opinions in race matters" say anything that involved race baiting, unless it was a comment on the race baiting practiced by the likes of Jackson and Sharpton.

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Duan 3 years, 10 months ago

But let me add this point - I am not advocating for Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton either.

Al Sharpton was asked one time - why is it that he doesn't advocate for whites on certain occasions?

He indicated that he feels there are numerous leaders in the white community who had bigger platforms and better access to resources that black Americans would never receive if they were in the same crisis; so he felt it made better sense to focus on issues that affect the black community, which is his community from a cultural stand point.

Now if that is considered to be a racist act - then that is your opinion.

But I think the issue people have with Al Sharpton is the fact he speaks his mind - just like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

But in all fairness to Al Sharpton - he has made an effort to be advocate on social issues with Newt Gingerich - where they touched on something that affected people of all races - education reform.

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justjess 3 years, 10 months ago

@notmuch

"I was somewhat sheltered......."

You were sheltered in your Catholic school because black kids whose catholic school was closed in the early 60s had to ride an old worn out bus to Yazoo City to attend the black Catholic School there. Catholics were as prejudice/racist as those in charge of our public schools. The bus left for Yazoo City at five in the morning and it was as late as 7pm when it arrived back in Vicksburg.

Not only were the schools segregated, so were the public swimming pools.

Nuns (all white) in Vicksburg who were teaching in the Catholic School for blacks, St. Mary's, would speak out against black public school children. When someone acted out, they were told, "Go to Temple (Public School) where ignorance and vulgarity are premitted. Catholic kids could not attend public sports activities and were cautioned about having black kids as friends. Please know that many of us were neighbors.

Many whites, as some of the bloggers on this site, have a problem with Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. For blacks, these two men are the soldiers who marched with Dr. King. Risked their lives for black folks to enjoy certain freedoms that some here take for granted.

I challenge anyone who calles Al Sharpton a "Pimp" to listen to his daily show on MSNBC. Rev. Sharpton was the person who brought the attention to the Trayvon Martin case. Remember, it had been swept under the run. Zimmerman had not been arrested!

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notmuch 3 years, 10 months ago

I think you may have missed my point. I was not saying that I was sheltered because there were no black kids in my school--on the contrary, I was saying that since I attended a Catholic school, we DID have black kids in our school--long before the enforced "de-segregation", and accompanying busing of students to ensure racial mixing, of public schools in the late '60's. Therefore, I was somewhat sheltered because I attended a Catholic school, where there was no discrimination based on race, so I never knew anything other than the acceptance of all who wanted a Catholic education. Okay, realistically, it was more like "all whose parents wanted them to have a Catholic education", since elementary school kids typically did not choose their schools.

I'm not sure I understand why you have determined that I was sheltered in a Jackson Catholic school because the closing of a Vicksburg Catholic school led to busing to Yazoo City, but I did regularly visit the old convent in Vicksburg on Sunday afternoons with my parents, who were very close with several of the nuns there--including Sister Mary Paula, who introduced my parents to each other, and for whom my sister Paula is named. I can tell you that there was no sign of any form of racism practiced at the convent during those times, and my siblings and I had a lot of good times running around and exploring the convent grounds with other kids--some black, some white--we were just kids having fun. Yes, there are severe budget limitations for any Catholic endeavor in a state that is about 3% Catholic, and many schools as well as many parishes have had to close over the past 50 years. Most parish priests serve multiple parishes in an attempt to keep as many parishes operating as is possible with the limited resources and lack of vocations.

Yes, the public swimming pools in Jackson were segregated also, just like most other public facilities--another reason I wanted to acknowledge that due to my Catholic schooling, a lot of my friends were Catholic, and so I was not exposed to the degree of racism that I only later realized existed all around me.

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notmuch 3 years, 10 months ago

I have never quite understood myself the shortage of black nuns, given the nurturing nature of sisterhood (both meanings are implied here:), but without a doubt one of the most revered nuns, not just in this area, but worldwide, was Sister Thea Bowman, coincidentally born in Yazoo City in 1937. This granddaughter of slaves entered the convent at the age of 15, and before being taken from us way too soon by cancer at 52, accomplished more than most people could even dream of. I obviously can't speak to your comments about derogatory attitudes regarding race in the Vicksburg area because I was not raised there; I was just speaking from my own experience--and admitting that I was fortunate enough to be raised so as not to adopt any of those attitudes.

Yes, Jackson and Sharpton aligned themselves with Dr. King, but the propaganda they espouse does not align with Dr. King's principles, and I contend that he would be ashamed of their actions.

I don't know how anyone could listen to Sharpton for five minutes without being aware of his race-based hatred. Yes, Sharpton was a major factor in the arrest of Zimmerman--based on the events of that tragic night, there was no reason to arrest someone who was forced to take another life in defense of his own, but that was of no importance to Sharpton. He had to make it into a race issue in order to gain from it.

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bill_jackson 3 years, 10 months ago

Ever heard of the Crown Heights riots or Tawana Brawley?

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Knowledge06 3 years, 10 months ago

justjess, Al Sharpton also has a radio show on SirusXM (Ch 110 - Urban View) EVERYDAY from 12pm - 3pm. He had this show years before the MSNBC TV show . The people on this post that spend time talking about him can only state what they have heard from the likes of oreilly and the fox crowd. As long as you're quiet and you don't stand for anything, you're okay with them. Further bill_jackson, crown heights and tawana brawley was 20+ years ago. If that's all you have then you're more uninformed than I thought.

Further, js1976, you proved my point. People like YOU focus on statistics that place your community in a favorable light and close your eyes to the REAL NUMBERS. While you remain ignorant, your children continue dropping out of school, drug and alcohol abuse remain prevalent, suicides continue, runaways increase and you cling to YOUR statistics. Sorry, but YOU are a big part of the problems that permeate this State and this Country.

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js1976 3 years, 10 months ago

"Further, js1976, you proved my point. People like YOU focus on statistics that place your community in a favorable light and close your eyes to the REAL NUMBERS."

Knowledge, WHAT point did I prove? YOU can't seem to grasp the concept of statistics, which I hate to break it to you are REAL NUMBERS. You might want to consider changing that user name of yours.

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donnaladd 3 years, 10 months ago

The numbers conversation here is not working out for the child-killing apologists, either way you look at them. The fact is that African Americans do not commit more crimes than whites AND receive worse sentences for the same or lesser crimes than whites. And it is certainly true that here in Jackson, a city that is two-third-ish black, we have a higher number of blacks committing crimes. Doh.

As for Sharpton and Jackson, they are easily matched on their worst days by O'Reilly and Limbaugh. They add nothing to a serious discussion about my column. It just gives yall an excuse to whine about black people. Grow up. You're making Mississippi look bad.

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donnaladd 3 years, 10 months ago

Ah, Bubba. You always like to twist facts to support your retro world view. Whites who supported the killing of Till wouldn't have admitted either they supported the child's murder because Till was black. It was because he was perceived as dangerous because he walked into a store and supposedly whistled at a white woman. They killed him in her defense because of what they assumed about him.

Today, young black men are still seen by certain types as being threatening because they, say, walk through a neighborhood to buy candy. They must be up to something, and it makes sense to get followed by an armed man assuming they're up to bad stuff. And you refuse to get that Trayvon clearly thought his life was in danger, and was right.

If that situation was reversed, you would be screaming in defense of the unarmed non-black-boy, who was fighting for his life against the strong, violent (proved by the fact that he was armed and trained in martial arts and out looking for trouble) African American thug who shot him in cold blood. You'd probably say the thug should get the death penalty for stalking and finding a victim and killing him. We all know it.

What's remarkable and telling is how many of you boys refuse to even try to see a different side of this because you've made up your mind without question that Trayvon deserved to be killed that night. And that, and every word you've typed above, prove every word I wrote in my column above.

Thank you, even if you'll never comprehend what I just said. And for the record, I didn't write it to please men with such entrenched prejudice against young black men as y'all routinely show here. Y'all are predictable, and I'm glad you're here. You prove the work America still has to do.

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bill_jackson 3 years, 10 months ago

So what Sharpton did 20 (more like 30) is irrelevant, yet the Emmett Till atrocity from even further back is still on the front burner? I will try to wrap my mind around that reasoning.

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justjess 3 years, 10 months ago

@bubbat

Only 9 states have a limit that is higher than 18 for open carry. Any limit higher than 18 years is unconstitutional since 18 is the age of a "legal adult". This status entitles you to all rights of citizenship. Check me on this, but, I don't think that MS is one of the nine.

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mshanecrowe 3 years, 10 months ago

Can we get closer to home for a sec? Did anybody here attend the Rhythm & Blues Festival last weekend?

Music is a universal language. It breaks through barriers and speaks to people.

Such language was spoken over two days this weekend in a huge display of peace and racial harmony at the Jackson Rhythm & Blues Festival.

People of different races and cultures came together to celebrate something we have in common. It appears a grand time was had by all and it was beautiful.

But since no activist groups, controversy, or crime was present the local media appears to have mostly ignored the event. The Clarion Ledger website has no articles on it.

The CL did have reporters at work on Saturday because I happened to see them covering the staged media event (rally) at the abortion clinic.

Racial harmony does exist in Mississippi. By you won't find it in around politicians or news media. You'll have to come here and see it yourself. If there happens to be no rhythm & blues festival around, I recommend Monday nights at Hal & Mal's.

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js1976 3 years, 10 months ago

"The numbers conversation here is not working out for the child-killing apologists, either way you look at them."

Since I've stated numerous times in the past that Zimmerman should have been convicted, is the "numbers conversation" now working out on my behalf?

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donnaladd 3 years, 10 months ago

Tommy Burton blogged the heck out of the festival for us:

http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/weblogs/music/

As for other comments, Ill be back when I get time. Be ready. ;-)

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justjess 3 years, 10 months ago

I only attended the Friday event of the Rhythm & Blues Festival. Racial harmony did exist and all had a GREAT time!

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donnaladd 3 years, 10 months ago

Sharpton? I'm no fan of Sharpton, either. His brand of instigation has helped little, if any.

But I'm astounded that you're using him in the same sentence as Emmett Till. And you expect to be taken seriously by anyone beyond bigots? Seriously, I could argue your side better than you.

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donnaladd 3 years, 10 months ago

I just saw this Eugene Robinson column, which argues the same thing I am: that the lives of black boys are still not valued equally. And he presents a good summary of the facts for y'all who have talking points and facts mixed up:

Jurors knew that Zimmerman was an overeager would-be cop, a self-appointed guardian of the neighborhood who carried a loaded gun. They were told that he profiled Martin — young, black, hooded sweatshirt — as a criminal. They heard that he stalked Martin despite the advice of a 911 operator; that the stalking led to a confrontation; and that, in the confrontation, Zimmerman fatally shot Martin in the chest.

The jurors also knew that Martin was carrying only a bag of candy and a soft drink. They knew that Martin was walking from a 7-Eleven to the home of his father’s girlfriend when he noticed a strange man in an SUV following him.

To me, and to many who watched the trial, the fact that Zimmerman recklessly initiated the tragic encounter was enough to establish, at a minimum, guilt of manslaughter. The six women on the jury disagreed.

Those jurors also knew that Martin, at the time of his death, was just three weeks past his 17th birthday. But black boys in this country are not allowed to be children. They are assumed to be men, and to be full of menace.

I don’t know if the jury, which included no African Americans, consciously or unconsciously bought into this racist way of thinking — there’s really no other word. But it hardly matters, because police and prosecutors initially did.

The assumption underlying their ho-hum approach to the case was that Zimmerman had the right to self-defense but Martin — young, male, black — did not. The assumption was that Zimmerman would fear for his life in a hand-to-hand struggle but Martin — young, male, black — would not.

If anyone wonders why African Americans feel so passionately about this case, it’s because we know that our 17-year-old sons are boys, not men. It’s because we know their adolescent bravura is just that — an imitation of manhood, not the real thing.

We know how frightened our sons would be, walking home alone on a rainy night and realizing they were being followed. We know how torn they would be between a child’s fear and a child’s immature idea of manly behavior. We know how they would struggle to decide the right course of action, flight or fight.

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justjess 3 years, 10 months ago

*@donnaladd

"We know how frightened our sons would be, walking home alone on a rainy night night and realizing they were being followed. We know how torn they would be between a child's fear and a child's immature idea of manly behavior. We know how thow they would struggle to decide the right course of action, flight or fight."

AMEN!!!!!!

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sparta 3 years, 1 month ago

It's a lot of words but misses a salient point: Look at the crime stats in Zimmerman's neighborhood. He "profiled" Martin because he did in fact fit the profile of the people who had been victimizing his neighbors.

If you want to blame someone, maybe the criminals that repeatedly victimized the neighborhood and necessitated the neighborhood watch and Zimmerman's "patrols" are good places to start?

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