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Justice Isn’t Blind, We Are!

December 12, 2014

I was working with a group of kids in the computer room the other day when I saw a news report about a grand jury failing to indict an officer on fatally shooting, and killing an unarmed man, (who was Black). I grabbed my phone to look up more details on this latest story, only to have yet another story pop up about the New York case, and the grand jury failing to indict the officer who choked an unarmed man to death! As I finished this story, underneath it, was the Cleveland case of officers shooting, and killing a 12-year-old boy on a playground across the street from his house; he had an air soft toy gun that shot little plastic pellets. In the case of the toy gun, the 911 caller stated that the gun was a toy/fake gun, but police later stated that this detail was not related to the responding officers.

After reading these latest stories I was hit with several realities. Not only was I shocked by the fact that these occurrences no longer shock me, but I have become more shocked with the ease in which people, seemingly rational human beings, have become so desensitized to these injustices that they no longer try to hide their detachment from basic reason concerning the deaths of minorities. I stood there, still at work, and I remember feeling as if I wanted to run home and get on my computer to vent my frustration! Instead, I waited, and collected my thoughts; deciding to approach this from a different point, and not just spew my anger and frustration to a society that already does not care because it is so out of touch that it actually blames the victim’s in these cases.

Just consider if these victims, these ever-growing number of unarmed men/women, (many of which are minorities), were, let’s say, the victims of sexual assault vs. murder due to police misconduct, would society be so eager or willing to blame them? Is any young woman on a college campus attending a party responsible for the fact that she ends up being raped? Is she complicit to her being sexually assaulted simply because she was drinking? If I, as a Black man, get offended because an officer is being condescending towards me simply because of his position of authority, are you suggesting that anything that he does to me is somehow justified simply because he has a badge? The vibe that I get from reading many of the post’s about these stories suggest to me that we are once again in the turbulent 60’s, and not in the year 2014!

I actually read a post that went on a diatribe about young minorities needing to start “pulling up their pants,” as if to say that “sagging” can get you killed. Blame the victim. What part does “sagging” have to do with an over-zealous cop, with prior incidents of misconduct, choking an unarmed man to death? I’ve read so many comments from anonymous people on the other side of this issue. It bothers me that these views are often, too often, shared by more notable and seemingly reasonable people with their own stage to speak to the masses. They argue that Zimmerman had bruises on his face indicating that Trayvon Martin fought back! In what world would we question a teenage boy’s right to fight back when he is being harassed by a non-law enforcement individual? When did it become customary to vilify a victim of a crime to justify their senseless killing at the hands of non-law enforcement?

The general public gets all philosophical in evaluating these suspicious killings at the hands of law enforcement, but always seem to oppose the victims in each of these cases. Many times they cite the victim’s behavior, lifestyle, or history, but never seem to realize that the officers in question are subject to the same scrutiny. What does it say about a society that will use a murder victim’s history, or circumstances, as justification for why he/she was killed? Do they not think that same criteria is necessary for officers accused of killing them? It never shocks me to discover that in many cases the officers involved in these killings have been reprimanded before for some type of misconduct, or excessive force; it only shocks me that the grand juries fail to think these facts are relevant, and fail to indict.

People on the other side of the epidemic of “police-sanctioned-murder-of-unarmed-minorities” often use the ideology that minorities get in an uproar about the killing of unarmed minorities, but fail to protest gang violence, or other crimes perceived to be “Black on Black” in nature. Law abiding, taxpaying citizens of all ethnicities protest all crimes that plague their communities. The only members of society that don’t care about gang violence, or other crimes that plague these communities, are the ignorant members of these communities who actually commit these crimes, and the ignorant bigots that ironically share a common bond of not caring about the victims. Talk about ironic, a racist spewing hate occupying the same boat with the very menaces to society that they seek to vilify with their hate.

It amazes me how quickly the rules can change depending upon who is in question. I have Caucasian friends who passionately speak about their rights, and I have listened on numerous occasions as they talked about times in which they had to stand up to law enforcement, or some figure in a position of power or authority. Why are they more entitled to do so than any random person of color? Why do we argue their fundamental right to do so, but feel as if a minority must simply comply, or face the consequences? This attitude is so systemic that we as minorities actually teach our kids to cooperate regardless of how our civil rights are disregarded by the very people whose job is to “protect and serve” us!!! While I understand why minority parents teach their children to cooperate without question, what does it say when even the victims that cooperate are still killed, and no one is held accountable?

I also find fault with members of the minority community who use their celebrity stage to voice their slanted views on race, which inexplicably do more harm than good, because it causes more bigots the right to validate their already racial bias towards minorities. I devalue any comment, from a celebrity of any race, whose words seemingly pardon or excuse the killing of any unarmed person solely based on prejudice and assumption. Our broken and flawed system supposedly works on the assumption that people are innocent until proven guilty, but when we justify the killing of a person primarily because they were a minority, and thus inherently combative or prone to violence etc., then where is the due process in that assumption?

The theoretical concept of justice being blind perhaps conveys the fact that it is supposedly impartial, but remember that we live in nation whose concept of all men being created equal didn’t apply to minorities. What kills me about people who are currently denouncing, not only the protest, but that these killings have any racial component, fail to remember that when the Declaration of Independence was written and signed, that my ancestors were still slaves and serving the tea! Justice is blind, not because it has attained some magical level of impartiality, but because it is governed by fallible men whose allegiance are to a flawed justice system that in my mother’s time said it was illegal for her to eat, use a toilet, or go to school with White people!

I’m shocked that in a society which has achieved so many technological advances, we are going backwards in the area of justice. In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s murder, and Zimmerman’s subsequent acquittal, I not only cried for a young man who I didn’t know, but I cried for his parents. They had to look on, as a nation debated in the following weeks, with ‘talking heads” bantering on about how we at least came together in open forum to talk about what his death means. As a parent I was offended! The death of my son should not be used as some sort of town hall meeting consolation geared at trying to put a civil spin on the fact that the system has failed us again. As a minority, I felt more convinced that the system, i.e. the people in power as a whole, devalues minorities.

How many unarmed minorities have to be killed in these circumstances before someone from the other side says “enough?” As a Black man, I find it troubling that over a dozen times in my life, I was stopped for DWB, (driving while black). I always complied regardless of how violated I felt in the process, due to the knowledge of what could happen to me if I “got out of line”! This is not some cliché of me using some “race card,” this is a known fact amongst every minority across this nation, but what bothers me about this situation is the fact that while White kids are taught to simply know their rights and stand up to injustice, minorities are taught to comply. We, as a society, even seem to justify the killings and vilify the victim when things like, “he shouldn’t have gotten smart,” are said. What then, is the justification for shooting an unarmed victim who is already handcuffed, and on the ground?

We always site aggressive victims who were shot and killed by officers, but can we ever call out aggressive cops who, in contrast to the suspects/victims, are actually trained to deal with these situations? I argue that in the wake of these incidents in which police across this nation have had so many cases brought before a grand jury, isn’t it time we switch the talk from trying to prove that these incidents/killings are racially motivated, and argue the more wide-ranging fact that our law enforcement officials need to be reprogrammed as to what serving and protecting really means? What do we do when our law enforcement, and other elected officials, view the very citizens they are obligated to serve and protect as potential threats instead of victims? Who do we hold more accountable for these killings; the victims themselves for perhaps orchestrating their own death, or the system that seemingly devalues the life of minorities and refuses to hold the officers accountable in their deaths?

In closing, I would like to remind every one of this… the reason why so many individuals across this nation are protesting, rioting, and sharing so much righteous indignation, is not simply based on one particular case, but an accumulation of many. The multitude of cases have simultaneously hit us as a society, and slapped us in the face with a fatal dose of reality. My words are not mere conjecture that the naysayers like to suggest is simply minorities using the proverbial “race card,” a phrase that I find not only offensive, but dismissive. My words are real, these cases are real, and the protestors have real anguish. Minorities, as well as non-minorities, know our country’s well documented history, so I find it hard to believe that we are considered paranoid. Is “racial bias” somehow just a figment of our imagination? Racism exists today, and sadly, it does not just exist in cyberspace amongst people hiding behind pseudonyms, and colorful avatars.

The many people of this nation are not protesting in an attempt to prove racism exists, its existence is apparent. The people are protesting, not only the lack of justice for these particular victims, but the general public’s, as well as the system’s inability to stop these crimes from repeating, nor do anything to hold the accused accountable. I refuse to simply pass the blame on a system that we all know is flawed, I blame the people assigned to protect us, and the system designed to govern them and assure that they do their duty impartially without wavering. The only reason it appears to me that justice is blind to helping minorities is because the people within the system are the ones who are truly blind, and as a result of their failure to see the truth and unwillingness to assure justice to all, the people will continue to suffer.

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