Sixty five years since the death of Emmett Till, is history repeating itself?

Last month marked 65 years since the murder of Emmett Till, the young black boy whose bloated and battered body was discovered in the muddy waters of the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi. 

The kidnapping resulting in his brutal muder on August 28 1955 for having whistled at a white woman was a defining moment for African Americans to say ‘enough is enough’ and the civil rights movement was born.

The death of Emmett Till at 14 set off a number of protests all over the country. Fast forward to today, and anti-racist demonstrations are taking place during a global pandemic.  

A lot of the Black Lives Matter movement aligns from the 1960s movement, with both trying to dismantle systematic racism. 

Nysha Pitt, 43 (pictured above), a communications entrepreneur, is involved in various projects celebrating black culture. 

She said: “Everyone was shocked at the death of George Floyd.

“I had to remind my non-black allies that this was the third death this year in the US where black people have died in the hands of the police. 

“Nobody would tell a Jewish person to forget the Holocaust,” she added. “Do you know the amount of times I have been told to forget slavery. This whole system was built on the back of slavery.

“For black people, if you were lucky, you were property.

“We’ve got to acknowledge we live in a capitalist society, based on physical assets. 

“Our bias is based on a system designed to favour those who are white.”

Ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s surprised everyone with their honest stance on the matter on social media, calling the need to ‘dismantle white supremacy’ in a powerful statement.

The reaction to this statement praised the company for not tip-toeing around the subject and taking a direct approach to the matter. 

“I don’t even like Ben and Jerry’s ice cream that much, but I might try it out more because I have newfound respect for a company that has the balls to call out truth,” said one user. 

Jeffrey Okyere, 29, half of R&B/pop duo Misunderstood, attended one of the protests in London. 

He said: “Big brands like Amazon etc have a huge target audience and the black community is definitely one of them. 

“I feel the same way Netflix have decided to help introduce their audiences to black-owned productions and black-led casts for films and documentaries is something a lot of these companies should do to help show support, understanding and diversity.”

TAKING TO THE STREETS: Jeffrey Okyere at the Hyde Park protest

So the question remains, is history repeating itself? As a social movement, Black Lives Matter appears to challenge the mainstream values, by welcoming the multiple identities such as class, race and gender that coexist within the movement. 

In the streets of Brixton, thousands of people all over the UK came together to peacefully protest in support of Black Lives Matter last month.

“I’m done making racism palatable to white ears”, said one activist, who wanted to remain anonymous.

“I want to break down challenges in some ways, for people who want to help. Having male allies support gender equality and having straight allies supporting LGBT issues. 

“Life is bigger than the commercial game we are being sold.”

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