Emmett Till

emmett till

Mississippi summers can be brutal. Even late August can be excruciatingly hot. Emmett Till and his group of cousins and friends went into a grocery store to get something to drink in Money, Mississippi, August 1955. A bunch of teenage boys can be rowdy. I imagine that there was a good deal of joking and pushing and laughing. Emmett was fourteen years old, handsome, and known as a kind boy with a hint of mischief. He had polio as a child that left him with a stutter. Friends said because of that he was a bit shy. He was growing to be a young man and was having an adventure. I imagine in 1955, Mississippi was a very different world than his hometown of Chicago. After his uncle visited and told stories about Mississippi, nothing would do but for Emmett to experience it for himself.

That day in the grocery store would be the beginning of the end of Emmett’s life and would start something Emmett probably could never believe. No matter what happened inside of that grocery store on that hot day in Mississippi, there is nothing that Emmett could have said or done to deserve what happened to him. A few days later, he was kidnapped, beaten, brutally tortured, wrapped in barbed wire, shot, and tossed into a river.

I first heard his story in school. We were only told that he was murdered. Even though I understand being sensitive to young minds, we are taught far too little about his situation. His death haunted me then, but now, my heart is absolutely crushed that grown people could do such horrific things to a child much less another human being. The boy who was not of age to fight for his country had no chance to fight for his life.

When his body was recovered, he was hardly recognizable. His mother who had not seen her son for days had to see his bloated, disfigured body. She was a single mother who did the best she could for her son. Her baby now lay dead in a casket which she decided to leave open to show the world. The world should still know today.

I read an article today about the defacing of a monument for young Emmett. While I was disgusted by the vandalism, I was not prepared for the outrage I felt at the comments on the article. With the internet and Facebook, there are always people trying to get a rise out of others. However, it brought to my attention that people in Mississippi still believe these things now. Today.

The commenters stated the attacks should be expected or even encouraged with the removal of Confederate monuments. Any person who has access to any source of media knows that the Confederate monuments will be moved to a museum, battleground memorials, or Confederate cemeteries. They are not being demolished or destroyed. This is ridiculous behavior for adults. They are recommending that the defacing of a monument created to remember a child that was murdered is called for because monuments are being MOVED. They are not suggesting defacing Union memorials, but one for a child. I am floored by the insanity of this.

Another monument for Emmett Till has been riddled with gunshots. Are we really still this backward that we can’t let a murdered child rest in peace? There are always casualties with war. Although it is horrible, it is expected. What is not expected is allowing your child to visit family and for him to come home in a casket after enduring God only knows what before a death he did not deserve.

No present living person has ever met someone who died in the Civil War. Emmett Till still has living family who loved and knew him. They saw his smiles and tears, and they knew the planes of his face. They still grieve for him. I did not know him, but I am angry for him. I am angry that he suffered and died, but also that his life and what the end of it began can’t be appreciated because of those who still have hearts filled with hate and spite. I know that hate will always exist and do what hate does. However, that doesn’t mean I have to be silent about it.

 

Moana: Not a Damsel in Distress 

My husband and I are big kids at heart. We still play from time to time, we still play video games, and we still watch cartoons. The cartoons are mostly movies, but hey, don’t judge me. Everyone knows that there has always been a theme for girls. The lead is a pretty princess, she gets into some trouble, somehow a love interest gets involved, they fall in love, and everyone lives happily ever after. That’s great. A nice traditional story that leaves everyone feeling good.

Last night, Tony and I watched Moana. Now, there may be some spoilers below. If there is any chance, you may get mad at me for ruining it for you, even by accident, you may want to stop reading. I intend to tell you everything I liked about this movie even if it means giving things away. So, let’s get started.

Moana lives in a gender progressive tribe.

When we first meet Moana, she is a child being steadily groomed by her father to be become leader of her people. I felt very good about this. In traditional Disney, there is usually a king or a prince or another strong male to rule the land. For a girl who was raised with this and being from a country that has never had a female president, I feel this is so important for our little girls. Also, when Moana is jokingly called a princess, she strongly says that she is the daughter of a chief and will one day be chief of her people.

She is a strong female lead of color.

Disney and other children movie makers have gotten better at including people of color. Maybe not to the extent I would like, but progress, my friends, progress. Pocahontas was a good one, so was Jasmine and Mulan, and of course, Tiana. I’m very proud that Moana is a strong Polynesian girl. All little girls should have someone to recognize with. Pacific islanders are well represented with Moana.

She is determined and pushes limits.

Where Jasmine was confined to the palace, Moana is not to pass the reef around her island. Her father has made it law. While her heart tells her that they should venture out to save her people from ecological destruction, her father will not be moved. Moana’s determination, strong will, and desire to push the limits are what takes care of business throughout the movie. This is important to instill in the next generations of our daughters. Sometimes what’s traditional may not always be right, especially when lives are at stake. I mean, remember human sacrifices?

She is brave.

From the time she is a toddler, she doesn’t have much fear. Even when things get tough and it’s obvious that she’s in a scary situation, she musters up courage and faces whatever comes at her. Sometimes as ladies, we are taught to be meek and mild and seek help for things. While this is important at times, we must also be able to face things on our own. Like Moana, we may be the only one standing for what’s right and for what we believe. Moana faces down bad guys, a demigod, and even her own father.

She actually saves someone else.

It’s a known pattern that the princess gets saved, the bad guys are vanquished, and good wins out in the end. That makes great stories. However, rarely do we see where a female lead saves other people much less herself. As I mentioned, Moana faces bad guys. Sometimes when other people are retreating, she rouses the courage within herself and saves the day. Maui, the demigod who is suppose to be a hero, often retreats and Moana stands to fight.

There is no romance.

Let’s all take a moment to appreciate this. While there is love between Moana’s parents, there’s no love interest, no broken heart, and no romantic fate. None. I can’t tell you how refreshing this was for me. She doesn’t fall in love. She doesn’t have a crush. She is just a teenage girl who is determined to save her people and become a great leader one day.

She shows depth and compassion.

While the seemingly bad guy being misjudged is not a new concept, Moana takes it to a new level. Because she shows compassion and uses her head, she realizes that not all perceived bad things are really bad. Sometimes if someone has been treated unfairly, they react in a negative way, and sometimes a little compassion and care can change how someone sees and reacts to the world.

She saves the day.

Moana has goals in life. When things don’t go as planned and things get tough, she listens to her heart, uses her head, goes on a grand adventure, goes up against challenges, and saves the day. Our little girls may not face the same type of monsters Moana did, but we have plenty of monsters in our society that they will face. They should be equipped with the knowledge that girls can save the day, too.

England: Rallying, Not Reeling

On Saturday, England faced yet another terrorist attack. I followed along with the rest of the world on the news as well as on Twitter. My heart hurt for those who would be facing the loss of loved ones, those injured, and those who lost their lives. All the news outlets seemed to be putting a repetitive spin on things. The usual horror, sadness, and shock were noted by nearly all news sources. I noticed that Brits took a particular insult to something the New York Times stated. Their headline said that England was left reeling in light of the bombing in Manchester and attack in London. Brits took to cyberspace to let people know how they actually felt. They posted photos of people going about their lives and holding their own.

Among those speaking out about the NYT’s statement about the ‘reeling’ country was the lovely J.K. Rowling. All these people wanted the world to know that while England may be shaken, it is not backing down. This struck a cord with me. They are people of such strong constitution and were making a point that they have weathered worse before. The people of the UK intend to show reverence to what has happened and pick up and go about their daily lives.  To prove that they will not be held down, not be terrorized, and will show that no matter what, they are not defeated. Refusing to cower in the face of terrorism speaks volumes. It sends a message to those behind the attacks that while the battle may have gone in their favor, the war is not yet over.

At a vigil held for the victims, London’s mayor had strong words of encouragement for the people of his city.

“Our city is filled with great sorrow and anger tonight but also great resolve. … This is our city. These are our values and this is our way of life. London will never be broken by terrorism. … We will defeat the terrorists.” – Sadiq Khan

Dictionary.com has the meaning listed for reeling as “to lose one’s balance and stagger or lurch violently.” It seems to me that in spite of the horror and tragedy that has taken place in England the last few weeks, England is not reeling. On the contrary, I think they are rallying around one another and have both feet firmly planted.

What’s in a Name?

Being that it was the first thing people would see with my blog, the name was one of my major concerns during the planning process. I thought on it, tried not to think about it, and over thought it. I drove myself crazier than normal along with everyone else in my house. I have to say that they took it like champs. All the sighing and scribbling would have tested anyone’s tolerance.

I wrote down things about ink, about quills, and all manner of reading and writing paraphernalia. My brain was turning to mush. I commented to a writer friend that I was struggling with a name. She told me not to overthink it. I got a good chuckle when I read her response. She doesn’t yet know this about me, but overthinking is second nature to me. I overthink and second guess like its my job.

My husband and childhood friend came up with several things. They tried to play on my Southern heritage with names involving magnolia and kudzu. I was looking for something me, something original that I could grow into. I was simply going in a different direction. After I came up empty, we all agreed that I should sleep on it.

I took my dilemma to two women who have very different personalities that I respect very much. One is a technical minded powerhouse and a strong business woman. The other is incredibly creative with a flair for business design and branding. I am a person who loves a good brainstorm with intelligent people. Ideas bounce all over the place peppered with interesting debates and makes for an electric environment. I expected nothing less with these two.

After a little research and a lot of great ideas, my creative friend had a “mic drop” moment. She basically looked me in the face in her direct way and said that this blog will be me so it should carry my name. I’d never thought of myself as a brand, but upon more thought, I realized she was right. The posts will be my words, my thoughts, an outlet of myself. This blog is my baby. A blog by any other name would not reflect me as well as one that bears my name.