A Points South essay from the Place Issue
Stop ignoring your body while you have one, you tell yourself. Stop succumbing to despairing visions of genocide. Pause the video of George Floyd’s strangled voice calling out for his mother, begging for air. Take the air left in your chest, run. In the midst of a disease that continues snatching Black breath, run.
. . . . Whenever they look at me they see Civil War. Rape. The
great historical dismissive black boy walk away. When they shoot
me and leave me in the street for four hours facedown on the hot
summer pavement while my mother screams on the porch they
see sugar plantations melting in the distance.
Parts of the nation would succumb to despair as entrenched racial prejudice was mined to soothe the emotional needs of isolated, angry people. But those willing to resist the chatter, sit in silence, and sink into the pain found spiritual liberation in the struggle for racial justice. Those willing to look found humanity, joy, and love. For them, the summer of 2016 was to become a true Summer of Love.
An installment in our weekly series, The By and By.
From the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University: To introduce our first story for The By and By, a writing-and-audio narrative around the new book The Blood of Emmett Till, we asked its author, Timothy B. Tyson, to reflect on the overwhelming response to the book since its release, why the story of Emmett Till continues to resonate so profoundly.
The police killed another black man today. I am furious with emotion; I am burning up inside as if with fever. The doctor tells me to try Prozak, Zoloft, Celexa or any number of other serotonin reuptake inhibitors, but no prescription can put out this fire. The doctor, she tries to promise I will feel better. But I don’t want to feel better. I don’t want to sedate my grief, the loss of the American dream. At sixty-three years old, living in the South, black, queer, and female, with two adult children, two grandchildren, and countless others I care about at risk, I know the dream itself is on fire.
I have enough tear gas in my blood to know what doomsday tastes like. I know theft because it’s in my lineage and know how to find reclamation in the wreckage. Could mold myself a reenactment of the moment a man with the same last name as me was murdered for having the gall/spite/righteous insolence to fight death.