When black people are murdered in cold blood, where is the justice?
The Huffington Post released this story about Austin Callaway, a young black man from Georgia, who was brutally murdered after being kidnapped from a LaGrange County jail in 1940. Current Chief of Police, Lou Dekmar, 76 years later, has apologized to the community for the grave injustice.
Ironically, this story comes on the heels of the confession of 14-year-old Emmett Till’s accuser, Carolyn Bryant Donham, decades after the 1955 death of the young man who was murdered for allegedly making inappropriate advances towards her, which in turn, led to Till’s gruesome murder. Donham admits to author and historian, Timothy B. Tyson, that she lied about the interaction that caused Till’s death. Tyson’s book about the ordeal, The Blood of Emmett Till, will be released in February 2017.
In recent years, blacks in America have watched this story play out again and again. It becomes our word against the word of those with the power, and no matter how much or how loudly we scream that our people don’t inherently carry the stamp of criminality, it doesn’t matter. As long as someone in power feels threatened, or scared, the murder of yet another black body is justified.
Those in the aforementioned stories, in the wake of their guilt, may feel that apologies are enough, but Austin Callaway’s cousin sums it up best in the video linked to the story when he says, “Apology accepted, but there is nothing that can bring back anything we lost.”
These brutal killings, that very rarely end with any kind of justice for the deceased, have left many of us asking the same questions we’ve been asking for years. When will we get the brand of liberty of justice that America promises to its citizens? And since we only see justice once in a blue moon, the answer to that question is a cynical, and rightfully justified, never.
Does it scream justice when a cop can fire shots at 12-year-old Tamir Rice, without asking any questions, but Dylann Roof, after killing a Bible study full of people, gets a ride to Burger King after his arrest?
Is it accountability when a woman who is responsible for the murder of a 14-year old admits she lied and gets a pass, supposedly since she’s 82-years-old now, when we watched Eric Garner’s murder unfold in the streets of New York for no valid reason, and no one was held responsible?
It’s not that we have a problem with cops doing their jobs. We don’t. Law enforcement, done right, keeps people safe. It lets us know that there is a force of men and women who are willing and ready to protect and serve us when we need them, like our tax dollars pay them to. We applaud justice. Dylann Roof was recently sentenced to the death penalty, and while you won’t find the full populace of African-Americans support the death penalty, you will find a collective sigh of relief that not another murderer got away with it.
As the new administration settles in, it seems another demographic is marginalized on a daily basis. The country is fighting mad, and fight we will, until liberty and justice for all is a reality, not an empty slogan. We were all taught to apologize when we do something wrong, but apologies are empty if not followed by actions that make things right, again. However, the one thing more valuable than an apology, even an apology chased by an effort to reconcile, is not giving people a reason to need one.
Link to New York Times Emmett Till story: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/us/emmett-till-lynching-carolyn-bryant-donham.html?_r=0
Jasmine Cochran is a lover of all things nature, except snakes and roaches. She hopes to bring unity using the threads of love and truth. Follow her on Instagram @jasmine.is.free