Sunlight and Gems

Lynchings to Starbucks: The indifference in how we treat people with a different color


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Emmett Till was a young fourteen year old black boy who was hunted and chased by a group of white men. He was beaten, one of his eyes gouged out, and he was shot in the head. The year was 1955. When his body was found, a cotton gin fan was tied around his neck with barbed wire that weighed 70 pounds. His crime: allegedly whistling at a white woman. Carolyn Bryant Donham, a white woman, lied that Emmett Till had grabbed her and was menacing in demeanor. That was enough to get him killed. Thousands of boys, men and women were lynched. It was the era of lynching blacks, both male and female, simply for being black. They were brought into public areas and hanged from trees and/or tortured. These lynchings turned into public celebrations where children, men, and women from all sectors of society watched, many of them ordinary people you could call your neighbor.

Lynching put the fear of God in black people. It was a form of intimidation, anything that challenged white supremacy or white dominance would be put down, lynched publicly without any repercussions to keep black folks in their place.

What’s happening today is inherited, passed down. These barbaric incidents that happened from year to year have left a stain on our society; it has left a legacy of injustice and racial terror. This incident that recently happened in Philadelphia continues the lynching of black men, the racial terror. By calling the COPS on a black person for a non-crime situation or issue is one breath away from having a black man killed, arrested or beaten. It continues the racial divide.

What exactly did these young men do to have a Starbucks manager call the cops to have them arrested? They were sitting awaiting the arrival of a friend. Kevin Hart’s take on the situation is that this is horrible management and the manager is totally responsible. Let’s dig a little further Kevin. Why do you think this manger thought that she had the right to call the police on these two men? Did she think that Starbucks would sanction this move? Is there more to this? So many people meet friends at Starbucks. Professors meet up with students. Other students meet with other students to complete projects. Should black students now make sure they order something even as they wait for their colleagues? Isn’t there some unspoken rule to wait until everyone gets there? Had this been two white males waiting for their companion, would the outcomes have been different?

Black men are harassed every day; a simple phone call to cops can get you killed. A single phone call to the cops can put the fear of God in you, the same as lynching did. You don’t know if you will survive the encounter. The intent is malicious and serves to remind black boys, black men, black girls and women that if you piss me off or make me uncomfortable, I can have you killed or disenfranchised by getting you locked up with one phone call. The cops are coming and they are not coming to ask questions; they are coming for you. And this is what is tragic.



About The Author

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Dantie Smith-Brown

Dantie Smith-Brown was born and raised in Jamaica, West Indies, where she graduated from teacher’s college before migrating to the United States. Changing course upon arrival, she became a Respiratory Care Practitioner when her father introduced her to that specialized area in health care. She is passionate about educating, diagnosing and treating individuals who suffer from heart and lung diseases to improve their health and well-being.

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