Black People Waiting, Again

            As the trial for the accused officer who kept his knee on the neck of George Floyd begins today, Black people are again in a metaphorical waiting gallery, where we will watch and hope that justice will be done.

            In our history, we have always been in courtrooms – sometimes on the main floor, sometimes sitting in the back or in the balcony – but we have been there, over and over, waiting for justice to roll down like a river, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

            There was the trial of the Scottsboro Boys in 1931, where nine Black boys, ages 12-19, were accused of raping two white women. They were tried by a white lawyer – and all but one of them, a 13-year-old, were convicted of rape by an all-white, all-male jury and sentenced to death in spite of there being no evidence to support the rape allegations. (https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/scottsboro-boys)

            Black people waited…

            Then there was the trial of the men accused of lynching 14-year-old Emmett Till. Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were accused of the murder of young Till, but despite of clear evidence that they had in fact killed Till, they were acquitted by an all-white jury who deliberated for less than an hour. (https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/emmett-trial-jw-milam-and-roy-bryant/)

            Black people waited…

            There was the trial of Anthony Ray Hinton, who was accused and convicted of murdering two white men, in spite of clear evidence that he could not have committed the murders because he was at work at a warehouse and had clocked in, in addition to being seen by coworkers. The evidence did not matter; he was convicted and spent over 30 years on Death Row. (https://www.al.com/opinion/2015/03/our_view_the_evil_in_the_antho.html)

            Black people waited…

            Black people waited as the case of the officers charged with the murder of Eric Garner went before a grand jury. Garner had been approached by police as he sold loose cigarettes on a New York street and was put into a chokehold as officers worked to arrest him. But Officer Daniel Pantaleo, accused of murder, was let off the hook; the grand jury ruled that the action of Pantaleo was justified and decided not to indict him. (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/new-york-city-officer-eric-garner-s-chokehold-death-won-n1030321)

            Black people waited…

            When George Zimmerman went on trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin, black people waited. Zimmerman was indicted but the jury found him innocent of any crime. (https://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/us/george-zimmerman-verdict-trayvon-martin.html)

            Now, Black people are waiting, yet again, to see if an officer who knelt on the neck of George Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds will be convicted of any crime. The attorneys for the officer will work to impugn the character of Floyd – as is a common practice – in their effort to get Derek Chauvin, the accused officer, acquitted. Black people will be waiting and hoping for justice, but there is an undercurrent of doubt and a deep suspicion that the justice system will again prove that its justice is more for white people than for Black.

            As the trial began today in Minneapolis, Black and white people were seen kneeling outside of the courthouse, in a ritual that reflected the belief that only God can make the man who stole a father, husband, brother, and son from his family by kneeling on his neck get the punishment his actions warrant.

            Everyone wants justice when they are wronged, but for some reason the majority culture of this country does not seem to believe or lean toward bringing justice to and for Black people. Our white supremacist system remains stubbornly stuck in its beliefs, one, that Black people are inherently criminal and are therefore deserving of any actions against them given by police, and two, that Black people are not fully human. It is as though they do not comprehend the depth of emotional and spiritual pain Blacks have suffered at the hands of this system. With that mindset, the majority culture indicates that Black people could not possibly need justice.

            So Black people and their allies are again waiting, waiting for the scale of justice to indicate that the crime and not the race of the officer or of the victim is the only thing that matters. The anxiety of people across this nation and indeed the world is palpable. The world is waiting to see justice.

            Hopefully, this time, the anxiety will be relieved by a verdict against the accused that says black lives truly do matter, and that no person, white police officers included, is above the law.

            A candid observation …

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