After Trayvon Martin was murdered and his killer acquitted, both news and social media sources jumped to draw comparisons between the senseless death of 17-year-old Martin with Emmett Till, who in 1955, at age 14, was brutally beaten and – allegedly – shot for flirting with a white woman. The men who murdered Till were, like Martin’s killer, acquitted.
Are these two unrelated incidences alike? Does it matter if they are? There are inarguable similarities, such as age, skin color, sense of purpose – both boys had been shopping in convenience stores – and acquittal. Do we need to know who these boys were in their hearts to draw conclusions about whether or not these boys met the same inhumane fate?
When I look at this image I do see a connection between the past and the present. The connection is that the pain is the same; the sense of injustice is the same, and this sameness does matter. What matters is that someone thought to make this comparison, to create this mage of two dead boys side by side. The person who paired these two photographs is asking why this keeps happening, why through six decades and a massive Movement, does this keep happening?
Maybe the answer does lie in exploring the past, but this time I would like to hold history accountable. We can use history to understand from where this pain and injustice is rooted and to break its cycle, instead of judging the past from the viewpoint of how much things have changed. Please support this exploration of racism throughout history by donating HERE.