It’s Not All In Black and White

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  Martin Luther King Jr

This week’s lecture with Derek was a surprise. At the beginning of the lecture we were asked to write down what we thought Race, Ethnicity and Discrimination were. I thought I would find it easy to write down what I thought each of these terms were, however when it got down to the nitty gritty of describing the difference between each one I found it difficult.

So when Derek asked us to write what we thought about each of these this is what I wrote:

Race: Where you are from and what your skin colour looks like.

Ethnicity: How you perceived yourself depending on your background.

Discrimination: isolating someone for race, age, gender and ability.

As someone who is white and from a privileged background I feel like I may turn a blind eye to some of the everyday racism that goes on.  An example of this would be when you’re with a group of people and they make racist jokes which are just classed as being funny when in reality they are being racist.  Throughout the lecture Derek spoke about different historical events one being the story of Emmett Till. Having never heard of Emmett Till and his story I found this very interesting.

Emmett Till was a 14 year old boy who lived in Chicago; he attended an all-black grammar school. In this part of America blacks were treated much more fairly. Emmett went to go visit his family in Mississippi during August 1955. After a day working in the cotton fields Emmett and his friends went to a local food store. The exact story as to what happened is unknown but what we do know is that Emmett was accused of whistling at the white female clerk (Carolyn Bryant) and touched her hand.  The female clerk was the wife of the store owner Roy Bryant. Four days later Emmett Till was brutally beaten up and shot in the head by Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam. After killing Emmett, Bryant and Milam took his body and dumped it in to the Tallahatchie River, he was only identified because of the ring he had on which had is dad’s initials on it. Emmett’s mum opted for an open casket so that people could see how brutally Emmett was beaten. Over the course of 5 days over 100,000 people went to Chicago to see Emmett’s body.  Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were put on trial in front of an all-white, all male jury. Even with the protests and out cries of people all over the country, the jury still let Bryant and Milam leave unscathed with the trial only lasting 67 minutes. At the beginning of 1956 Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam admitted to their crime by going to a magazine, they were protected by the double jeopardy laws which meant they didn’t get jail time and they got paid $4,000. The most shocking detail about this crime is in 2017 Carolyn Bryant admitted to making up the whole story. Emmett Tills death may have had an impact on the civil rights movement but like a lot of the people who died trying to fight for better lives, he died unnecessarily.

The quote at the beginning of my post is one of my favourites from Martin Luther King Jr.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  Martin Luther King Jr

I remember learning about him in school. The quote is still so relevant as it doesn’t matter how hard we try to fight for equal rights people who are against it will pass down their views to their children. We are then forever stuck in this circle of hate.

Until the lecture I don’t think I realised how bad racism still is in today’s society. Derek showed us a video on a protest which took place in Charlottesville (USA) 2017. Throughout the video it shows racism that I honestly didn’t think still happened and even what seems to look like a hit and run. The thought that events like these are still happening around the world has really made me think about how little racism I thought was going on.

The lecture with Derek really has shown me that racism is a major issue in our society and no matter what we do unless we change our mind sets we can’t move forward and move on to a better way of life for everyone. Putting this in to practice as a teacher is going to be especially important to make sure all children have an equal opportunity.


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