Saturday, July 10, 2010
"The Decision": Distracting From Social Justice
Also, Thursday evening, former transit cop Johanes Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the brutal 2009 murder of Oscar Grant, an unarmed Black man. The incident sparked national attention as Grant was shot lying face-down and cuffed, on a subway platform, in front of millions, and was videotaped* by at least five people. The prosecution was unable to prove the higher charge of voluntary manslaughter, or that Mehserle's fear of Grant was "unreasonable." Instead, the lesser verdict was issued (carrying 2-4 years in prison) sentencing is set for August 6th. Mehserle's excuse was mistaking his .40 caliber handgun for a Taser. Adam Server's essay credits the historic and deep-felt fear of the Black man as cause for the ruling and explanation of prosecution's inability to push for the higher charge. I agree, but feel the fear is completely misplaced. (Surprised no one pulled a "Time To Kill" on that smug racist cop. I kid. Kinda.)
Young Black men are far too often the victims of (fatal) police brutality, yet the collective American public remains insensitive to the larger issue: Black life is not valued in our society. If an innocent Black man's videotaped murder (still) is not enough evidence for a full murder conviction nor elicit outrage from all races, then I'm at a loss to what must happen to affect our consciousness?!
Oscar Grant is representative of young Black sons, brothers, fathers, husbands and friends in our communities. The lack of value for his life that fateful night in the subway station at the hands of a BART cop, is the same lack that guided the decision of 12 jurors -8 women, 4 men, none Black- to sentence a murderous cop with a lesser charge.
The majority of conversation throughout Thursday centered around "The Decision." Not the Grant verdict, but King LeBron James' decision to jump teams. Seriously?? Everyone became a critic with an opinion, James was publicly ridiculed and several fans in Cleveland took to burning his former jersey in the streets. ERRR?!?! Even majority owner of the Cavaliers Dan Gilbert posted a public letter of dissatisfaction that reads like the bitter slave owner of Kunta Kinte. *Racism just spills out like word vomit sometimes.*
It disgusts me that white citizens from Cleveland, Ohio were more outraged at a Black free agent's decision to head to Miami as opposed to an innocent Black man's murder. Citizens of Oakland protested on Thursday evening too, but the media choose to focus on the few looters and rioters. Careful to associate violence and barbaric behavior with...Black folk.*SIGH* WHATTHEJOEJACKSONHELL?!?!?!
What is unfortunate is that young Blacks have greater odds becoming casualties, statistics or victims of racially charged violence, as witnessed in Oscar Grant's case, than becoming the next LeBron James. What is ironic is that in spite of having the world's attention on Thursday, the plight of police brutality (Oscar Grant) was never mentioned. I never thought it would, but imagine the impact if our public figures and athletes took grand stances against social injustice?! *Too much like right I know, but the thought made my heart pause with joy.*
In the following weeks, what will you do to fight social injustice? Aside from tweeting and provoking conversation, will you organize, register to vote, work to change laws that hold police accountable for murder? In the least, will you make a "Decision", or an effort to avoid the media's distractions and focus on the truth, OUR daily realities? I will surely keep trying.
**Oscar Grant's MURDER. Not suitable for weak stomachs or anyone with a soul.**