Why, America?

February 28, 2020

Dear Americans,

I’m keeping Julie’s office chair warm while she paces around the dining room table to take a quick break to eat a hot dog for lunch and get some Fitbit steps in. I still have my strong German work ethic, but I’m glad Julie is taking a break from her work because she’s been burning the candle at both ends. Five years of work, which has really been a passion project she has been carrying, is suddenly being delivered to the world through a demanding process that is new to her. I’ve been watching her juggle fire as she races up the steep learning curve to becoming a published author.

Since I’m still fond of keeping current with American news, I was just filling time by reading on your internet that your president is expected to sign an anti-lynching bill that will finally make lynching a federal hate crime in America. The anger I felt in 1955 over the torture and lynching of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till has been reignited. I had experienced considerable anger and dismay about the human condition during my lifetime, but nothing like that of the anger I felt when the men who brutally destroyed young Emmett’s life were acquitted. And to discover that the woman who accused Emmett of whistling at her in Mississippi finally admitted in 2007 that she was lying, ignites a colossal rage in me toward the selfish stupidity of some people.

Back in 1955, I was aware that Congress had been trying to pass anti-lynching legislation since 1900. I just read that Congress has failed to pass anti-lynching legislation almost two hundred times. This causes me to ask, Why, America? Why is it taking so long for your country to take necessary actions to abolish racism? I’m also compelled to ask why four members of the House didn’t pass the current anti-lynching legislation. Where is your sense of human decency, America? The behavior of some people continues to inflame me in the way it did when I was alive on the pages of Julie’s book.

Instead of burning you, America, for your reckless indifference to the plight of your fellow humans, I would like to share with you something I have learned from experience. Every self-serving backward step made by America can take decades, even centuries, to correct so that the country can move forward. So choose your steps wisely. Had anti-lynching legislation been passed in 1900 when it was introduced by Representative George Henry White—the only black member of Congress at the time—there might not have existed a culture that allowed Emmett Till to be brutally murdered by angry white men.

Julie is done with her break. So I’m done keeping her seat warm for her—actually, now it’s on fire.

With Love,


Emmett Till

© 2020 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Julie Ryan

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