What Tamir’s Denigration Means

What does a people say when a nation, its own nation, continually denigrates them and lets them know that their lives really do not matter?

There has been a grave travesty of justice – yet again – in the decision of the Grand Jury in Cuyahoga County to not indict the police officers who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice within two seconds of driving up on him as he played with a pellet gun.

How can any intelligent group of people not agree, not see, that those officers murdered a child?

People always want justice when they have been aggrieved; it is human to seek it. The parents and loved ones of the four people killed Ethan Couch,  a wealthy teen who was driving drunk, were outraged when he was given probation instead of jail time. Any parent would be so outraged.

Think of how you would feel if such injustice, such a decision to not demand accountability for awful crimes, were your norm.

It is the norm for black people in this nation.

It is not the norm when black people kill other black people; those criminals go to jail. But the criminals wearing badges get a free pass. They are almost never held accountable.

It is the norm for black people in this nation.

How can a people, masses of white people, not be incensed at America’s continued violation of the human and civil rights of black people? How can a people who say they are pro-life not care about the families which are being devastated by a justice system which is anything but just?

How can parents not feel the anguish of parents of killed loved ones, their children, who will never see justice rendered against the murderers of their children, because the system …protects…their murderers?

How can a nation not be incensed that officers who have a history of using excessive force, especially against black people, are allowed to stay on the streets? Aren’t they at least as despicable as priests who molest young children and who are allowed to stay in their parishes?

How can any person calling him or herself Christian not be pained to the core of his or her spirit, because the Scriptures, which demand justice and righteousness, are being ignored?

Do not say that we, black people, should trust the system. The system has never protected us, never had our best interests at heart.

We cannot trust the prosecutors, the judges or the juries. They are bedfellows with a largely white police force which knows it can get away with murder. Prosecutors need the support of police unions, so they do what the unions say do. Prosecutors, elected officials, also need to satisfy their base, which is largely white and Conservative, and no friends to black people.

Judges need support from powerful union interests as well. They are too often not interested in justice, but, instead, with satisfying those who pay their salaries and help them stay in office.

The result is a justice system which still lynches black people.

What was done by the Grand Jury in Tamir Rice’s case …was immoral, unjust, but typical of how American justice works for black people.

He was a kid, 12-years old, and he was shot to death within seconds of being driven up on by rabid police officers with no self control.

He was allowed to lay on the ground for a number of minutes, dying, while the police officers wrestled and handcuffed his 14-year old sister.

How can so many (not all) white people not be enraged? What if it had been your son? What would you feel? What does a people say when their own nation continually denigrates them and lets them know that their lives really do not matter?

Has America’s racism, its white supremacy, eroded your very souls, your capacity to feel?

It would seem so.

A candid observation …

“Boys Will Be Boys”…

It has occurred to me that only some boys are “allowed” to be boys, according to the common adage.

When I think of what happened to Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, what I think is that these were two young men …being boys. Teens tend to do dumb things in general; teen boys, no matter their color or ethnicity, do even more dumb things…It is part of growing up. Some of us get out of our teens safely, meaning we don’t get killed or injured or wind up in “the system,” but many of us, unfortunately, do not.

Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow, said on Saturday that “all of us are sinners, and all of us are criminals.” What an incredibly simple yet profound statement. All of us, surely, have done something that puts us in both those categories…yet it seems to be black and brown males who seem to end up in prison or dead for …just doing “dumb boy stuff.”

I remember hearing the story of a young black teen who lived in Chicago, who, with his friends, took up a dare that they could all outrun an oncoming train. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb …but that was the challenge of the day. There were about six boys in the group. All of them made it…except for one, who tripped and fell, and before he could get up, the rambling train had run over his legs, amputating them both.

I hear stories about this all of the time, as I am sure many do, but what bothers me, again, is that black and brown boys don’t really have the luxury of being …boys. And what’s worse, it feels like the white police officers know exactly the mind set they are dealing with. They know what boys will try, what they will smoke or when they will fight …because these police officers have done the same “dumb boy” stuff themselves. They have done what they are chasing down these black and brown boys for r, and have gotten away. Now, they are in positions of power.  It feels like they have never been too fond of black or brown people; it feels like they have totally bought into the opinion that black and brown people are bad, stupid and lazy, and they use their power to reign these young men in for doing exactly as some of these police officers have done in their lives …if not worse.

When it is suggested that police officers take some diversity training, or get some kind of training that will help them deal with the communities in which they immerse themselves, there is pushback; they are miffed, it seems, that anyone would suggest that they need training to deal with …common criminals…and yet, they do need something . These police officers go into black and brown communities armed with guns and misguided and misinformed perceptions. They go in believing that the black and brown people with whom they deal are inherently bad as opposed to being humans who need help and protection like everyone else.

These white officers know that kids use drugs. My son used to tell me that at his high school, a very good high school in the suburbs, was full of drugs. Chances are these police officers have used or are using marijuana …and they know how boys get together and smoke to “have fun,” and yet they round these boys up and herd them into the system. The huge numbers of black and brown people in jail and prison, especially black males, for non-violent drug offenses, supports my observation.

What to do? How do black and brown parents raise their sons? They certainly are not allowed to “be boys” as the white boys are allowed to be. So …what does a parent share? When my son was a teen, I gave him “the talk” on how to act in public, what to say, do, not say and not do, if he were ever stopped by police. He got through…but so many of our boys do not.

When I think of Trayvon and Jordan, I think of boys …being boys …defending their manhood, standing up for themselves, in the wake of being challenged by other men who challenged them …just because they could. I believe Trayvon was frightened by being followed by George Zimmerman and decided to “stand his ground” and protect himself…and I believe Jordan decided that no white man was going to tell him how loud he could play his music and he challenged Michael Dunn’s demand that they turn the music down in their car. Boys. Being boys. The white men against whom they came against took up the challenge. It was a pissing contest … as men will often engage in …but both Trayvon and Jordan …and so many more young black and brown men …lost. I mean they lost the ultimate – their lives.

Yeah, “boys will be boys,” but black and brown boys and youth are highly at risk when they do that. And unfortunately, as the white boys and men whom they confront do the “boy thing” too, it is the black and brown kids who too often end up with the short end of the stick.

A candid observation …

Nothing New Under the Sun

The lump in my throat that had been there since the execution of Troy Davis on September 21 had just about dissolved when I looked on my Facebook page and saw a piece written by Reuters News Service that said the parole board in Georgia had spared the life of a convicted killer hours before his scheduled execution.

Samuel David Crowe, 47, was to be executed on Thursday, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison without parole.

Crowe has been convicted of murder and armed robbery. He admitted the same.

And he is white.

The story said that Crowe admitted killing a lumber store manager, shooting him three times and beating him.

The story said that Crowe “takes full responsibility of his crime and has shown …remorse.” His sentence was commuted, apparently, because of his remorse and because he has been a good “model prisoner.” His attorneys argued that when he committed his crime, he was suffering from symptoms caused by cocaine withdrawal.

The lump in my throat has come back. Now it’s not a “sad” lump. It is an “anger” lump. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Race continues to matter, and matter big time, in this country.

Why, how could the Georgia parole board be so able to grant clemency to this white man, in a case where there is, apparently, no doubt about his guilt, and yet refuse to grant clemency for Troy Davis in a case in which there was substantial doubt?

Something is terribly wrong.

There is nothing new under the sun. In the Bible, “The Preacher” in the Book of Ecclesiastes proclaims the same. “The Preacher” was distressed. So am I.

This candid observation gives me goosebumps. And it makes me really angry.