Law & Disorder

18 Jul

Dang. Who can you trust when the lines between hero and bully, saint and sinner and savior and criminal blur?

In the Black community, it’s nothing new: Just like a record player scraping the exact same spot on a record, year after year, month after month, day after day, to no avail, the raw grating sound is no longer surprising.
The question simply becomes how to fix it?

Is it the worn record? Or the faulty player?

Is it Blacks that must act. . .hmmm. . .less menacing, suspicious and threatening? Or is it the job of society at large to no longer misconstrue Blacks as mere stereotypes, sound bites and “flashes” as Ryan Coogler suggests?

26-year-old Coogler is the director of Fruitvale Station, the film currently playing around the country about  22-year-old Oscar Grant, who was shot in the back while handcuffed by a Bay Area transit cop four years ago. Scratch. He says the purpose of the film, which portrays Grant’s last day alive is to show him as a “complete human,” a man full of flaws as well as gifts, dreams along with fears.

The film hits select theaters days after jurors acquited George Zimmerman of all charges related to Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old African-American teen he killed. Scratch, scratch.

U.S. law has always been a double-edged sword for African-Americans. It declared us mere property in slavery, upgraded us to 3/5 of a person in 1787 and made unlikely ex-cons out of a seamstress (Rosa Parks), preacher (MLK) and countless others who dared question its fiber in the pursuit of equality. Fast forward to 2013. Are we viewed as fully human?

“Operation Ghetto Storm” suggests not. According to the 2012 report, one Black man, woman or child is killed every 28 hours by a police officer, security guard or vigilante in the U.S. It’s definitely worth a look. This article by DemocracyNow talks about the report, which asserts that Trayvon Martin’s fate was not at all unusual. In fact, according to the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Martin was merely one of 136 unarmed Blacks killed by “police, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes in 2012.” Organization organizer Kali Akuno blamed the criminalization of Blackness.  Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Last year, I did a story on the juvenile justice system in the U.S., specifically honing in on Dallas. While researching, I found it ironic that the U.S., “the ‘land of the free’ is home to the world’s largest prison population. In that population, my research found that 1 in 15 Black men in the U.S. is incarcerated but numbers project an astonishing 1 in 3 rate of incarceration for Black boys born after 2001. Scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch.

Is it the record or the player? Blacks or society? What do you think?



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