I wonder if what I am feeling is what my ancestors felt the day after a lynching.
I am surprised at how deep is my pain over the execution of Troy Davis. I have read plenty about miscarriages of justice toward black people in the South, how judges and courts and juries, without shame, put black people, too many of them innocent to death.
I have read the stories about how too many times, law officials stood aside and let injustice occur, often over a lie about a black person told by some white person, oftentimes a white woman. Just their word was enough to condemn a black person to death.
I have read about how sometimes, mobs would raid jail houses and take accused black people out of jail and lynch them. At least one of the stories I read told of how a mob lynched a black man right outside the jail and courthouse.
I have read of how black people were lynched and white people came to the event, like it was entertainment, bringing lunches and children, taking pictures, and having a grand old time while a human being, who happened to be black, was hung.
I have read the story of Emmett Till, how this young boy from Chicago, was lynched because he reportedly whistled at a white woman. I read the story about the horror of Rosewood, a town demolished because of a white woman’s lies.
I have read much, but not until yesterday did I viscerally feel what our ancestors must have felt the day after a lynching.
I cannot for the life of me figure out why our sophisticated justice system could not have found a way to hear Troy Davis’ case again, to remove the mound of doubt surrounding his case. I cannot figure out why someone didn’t risk his or her life or job to save a perhaps innocent person. What harm would it have done?
I cannot stop weeping. Every time I think of what our country did last night, it makes raw my knowing what our country has done throughout history, allowing innocent black people to be lynched.
I learned, in studying lynching, that it wasn’t just “hanging” that was considered to be lynching. It was any form of unjust murder -a beating, drowning, burning – whatever – of a person.
That’s what happened last night, or at least that’s what my gut and spirit are telling me.
This I know: we cannot stop trying to find out the truth about what happened the night that the off duty police officer was killed. Surely, we cannot stop. There are people all over the world, white, black and brown, who are disturbed about what happened last night in Georgia.
But I, for one, am wrestling. Maybe I was supposed to not only intellectually know what lynching was, but what it must have felt the day after a lynching …because this is painful beyond belief. If we cannot believe in and trust our justice system, what do “we the people,” who are not white and wealthy, really have?
It is a sobering and disturbing question, and it is a candid observation.