How Does Racism Hurt Racists? The Case of Emmett Till

How does racism hurt racists? In many ways, actually. Here’s one:

The case of Emmett Till.

In 1955 this 14-year-old African-American left Chicago to visit his cousin in Mississippi.

One day his cousin dared him to flirt with a white woman. Accepting, he whistled at a woman who was working at a grocery counter, and called her “baby.”

Later that night the woman’s husband and his half-brother hunted Emmett down, kidnapped him, and the torture began. They cut off one of his ears, gouged out an eye, and put a bullet through his head before throwing him into a river.

The men were arrested. At the trial witnesses placed them at the site where Emmett was tortured, and the two men admitted the kidnapping.

But they faced a jury of white men in a Mississippi courtroom. After deliberating for less than an hour, they acquitted the case. One juror told a reporter, “If we hadn’t stopped to drink a pop, it wouldn’t have took that long.”

We easily see how racism hurt the young minority in this case. But how did it also hurt the white people who were involved?

When one person can torture another, with no conscience or concern, and when others dismiss the behavior, we see that racism dehumanizes its target, but it also dehumanizes the racist.

Georgia Platts

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 2, 2010, in race/ethnicity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I read a book from the library that talked about Emmett Till. Apparently the two men put part of a cotton gin around Emmett’s neck and strangled him with it before tossing him in the river. It was the woman’s job to tell Emmett that she was offended from the get-go. For the two men to take it upon themselves to mistreat another human being is just wrong! Racism dehumanizes everyone. Everyone including the jury who turn a blind eye and allow these things to happen are just as guilty for those that committed the crimes. It shows that people have no compassion for one another. They do not want to get to know those who are different from them. That is just sad. Everyone needs to have respect for one another.

  2. Taliban Lite, in the United States, seduces Women, seeking approval from men, to likewise accept the sexist debasing of qualified women who pursue happiness by working to their highest potential.

    “When one person can torture another, with no conscience or concern, and when others dismiss the behavior, we see that racism dehumanizes its target, but it also dehumanizes the racist.”

    When one life form posing as a person, can derail the career, personal choice, education, etc. of another because she is female, and other women -negative and jealous, dismiss it as her own fault – I am reminded of the little reassurance I got from my automatic writing hand: ‘If you lose your arms for reaching, Victory, sprout wings.”

  3. Dehumanized about sums it up! The Jury is as guilty as those who commited the crime.

  1. Pingback: And None For Gretchen Weiners | Surge

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