Nothin’ to see here, folks. Today has been a day full of meetings and commuting between meetings. Not necessarily a bad thing, since it means business is picking up. But it does put a crimp in one’s blogging style. Especially when, upon having a spare hour, one purchases a beverage and a snack in an allegedly wifi enabled coffees shop (in order to justify taking up a table, y’know), and sits down to find out their wifi ain’t working. It’s happened more times than I care to count, and I’m starting to think people should put out a sign or something in cases like that. Even my pocket wifi detector said there was a network somewhere, but I got nothin’. There oughta be a law….
In the meantime, there’s a lot of great blogging going on elsewhere, and I managed to read some of it. And some of it made me want to check my calendar a few times, just to make sure that was still 2007, and that we hadn’t somehow gone back in time 50 years or so.
That people should be hostile enough towards interracial couples in 2007 to actually take the time and effort to send death threats to one couple, as the Angry Independent shares at Mirror on America, shouldn’t surprise me. But it still does.
College football star Ian Johnson (who is Black) went ahead with his marriage to girlfriend Chrissy Popadics over the weekend, despite threats of violence. This is 2007 isn’t it? And we are still seeing this kind of sick behavior. See another blog posting on this couple.
I am all for mixed race relationships. People should date and marry whoever they want. But it seems that this Country is still not ready to fully accept interracial marriage….not even dating. It is as if this is the last great taboo when it comes to race. When I dated interracially, I can’t tell you how uncomfortable I was with the funny looks that my date and I got from people. I know Idaho has to be one of the least diverse States in the Country….so it was not exactly a shock to hear about the threats. But the situation is also bad in places like the St. Louis Metro (which has a very sizable Black population). It is one of the most segregated Metro areas in the nation. So I can empathize somewhat with this story…although I never got any death threats.
Well, Idaho is the home state of the founder of Aryan Nations— which, by the way was featured in a chapter of Them: Adventures with Extremists, a favorite of mine by Jon Ronson. The organization put down roots in Idaho a while back, so the death threats don’t come as a surprise. My experience hasn’t been that extreme. But it’s interesting to me that the negative responses we’ve gotten as an interracial couple have come exclusively from other African Americans, and are exclusively directed at me. Admittedly, we are something of a double whammy for people, but still…
Brownfemipower, over at the Women of Color Blog has more on a story I covered from a different angle a while back.
I know I’ve sat in meetings where “affordable housing” is the buzz word but not one “affordable housing” unit has been approved for any new housing project. I think it’s going on all over.
And “luxurious condos” and “revitalized neighborhoods for the rich and middle-class” is gentrification. Many of the restrictions including curfews that apply outside of the village sound like they will be enforced mainly against men and women of color to police them to stay in Dunbar Village and the other projects.
The city seems more concerned about crime spilling out into the “revitalized neighborhoods” and keeping it locked up inside Dunbar Village. The only time there will be any interest in it is if it affects the wealthier neighborhoods(and do you notice that when for example, drivebys happen in wealthier areas, they get much more attention than poorer ones?) or for a short period during incidents like this one(and sometimes when young kids get killed). That’s when like they said, you get promises and more promises usually at press conferences by elected officials.
In September 2006, a group of African American high school students in Jena, Louisiana, asked the school for permission to sit beneath a “whites only” shade tree. There was an unwritten rule that blacks couldn’t sit beneath the tree. The school said they didn’t care where students sat. The next day, students arrived at school to see three nooses (in school colors) hanging from the tree.
The boys who hung the nooses were suspended from school for a few days. The school administration chalked it up as a harmless prank, but Jena’s black population didn’t take it so lightly. Fights and unrest started breaking out at school. The District Attorney, Reed Walters, was called in to directly address black students at the school and told them all he could “end their life with a stroke of the pen.”
Black students were assaulted at white parties. A white man drew a loaded rifle on three black teens at a local convenience store. (They wrestled it from him and ran away.) Someone tried to burn down the school, and on December 4th, a fight broke out that led to six black students being charged with attempted murder. To his word, the D.A. pushed for maximum charges, which carry sentences of eighty years. Four of the six are being tried as adults (ages 17 & 18) and two are juveniles.
Whatever I might still write about the Jena Six (maybe in a writing project proposal I’m putting together, in a chapter on the rash of race-themed college parties), I can’t put it any better than D.R. Scott at the Independent Bloggers Alliance. Pay attention to that last line. I don’t want you to miss it.
Remember the highly-publicized burial of the N-word recently?
It was premature.
I can hear a loud knocking coming from inside the coffin. It’s like that horrifying scene at the end of Carrie when her hand surges upward from the grave. It’s alive as long as the hatred that fuels it keeps burning strongly. It’s alive as long as we give monsters permission to exist. It’s a vampire we half-heartedly try to kill with a rubber stake.
This culture puts more effort into killing cockroaches than bigotry.
It gets better from there.
Didja feel that? That shift? Maybe it was just me, or something I ate. Or maybe not. Jill felt it too.
Suffice it to say, it’s outrageous on a number of different fronts. For one thing, what we are seeing with Shaquanda Cotton, Genarlow Wilson and the Jena 6 is lynching, 21st century style. It’s updated for the modern era and conveniently bloodless. Why bother with the messy illegality of violent bloodshed from the Jim Crow era when you can now use the law to destroy lives and set a chilling example that the rest of the local African-American community will heed?
It’s Legal Lynching. Where is the NAACP in all this? Well, check out their home page. They are using the outrage over this case as an opportunity to fundraise — but for whom, you ask? How much of that money exactly is going to help the families of these teenagers and for the boys’ legal team? As opposed to the salaries of the complacent bureaucrats working there?
…The NAACP has received more attention for comments accusing people of “piling on” regarding Michael Vick’s indictment on dogfighting than on any visible efforts to help the Jena 6. I am just calling it as I see it. I’d love to hear that I am mistaken and that the NAACP and NLDF are in the trenches fighting hard for these boys’ justice. Wouldn’t you?
I’m not the only one who feels like I slept through a time warp. Ezekiel Edwards over at the DMI blog felt it too.
For most of American history, there was a justice system for white people, and a system without justice for black people. Today, in 2007, as we see in Jena, and as we see throughout the millions of jails cells scattered throughout this country, there are still two justice systems; one for the middle and upper classes (mostly white people), and one for the poor (disproportionately people of color).
One system is relatively fair, a system where Scooter Libby gets pardoned by a President who avoids pardons like the plague (and runs away from reducing federal sentences, having reduced only three out of 5,000), and where, on the rare occasion when affluent white people are wrongfully accused, like the Duke lacrosse players, they can avoid prison and even be exonerated before ever being convicted.
And then there is the other criminal justice system, the one for poor people, the much, much larger one, the one which can claim most of the 2.3 million people in prison in this country, the one off of which money is made and political offices are held.
D.R. Scott, once again, notes that the above is in keeping with larger cultural trends.
Blacks in the USA are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites, and Hispanics are locked up at nearly double the white rate, according to the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based think tank. The report found that states in the Midwest and Northeast have the greatest black-to-white disparity. Iowa imprisons blacks at more than 13 times the rate of whites. The group cited Justice Department statistics from 2005. States with the lowest black-to-white ratio included Hawaii, 1.9 to 1, and Georgia, 3.3 to 1.
Oh, about Hispanics being locked up? XicanoPwr has a rather disturbing story about one such situation.
It looks like Georgia is willing to allow people to get away with attacking immigrants. Recently, the Los Angles Times reported on a Latina who was attacked by her roommates. She called the police pleading for her life as they were punching and hitting her in the stomach; however, when the police arrived at the scene, they arrested her and she is now in an Alabama cell awaiting deportation (via RaceWire).
…Sadly, the LA Times did not report the whole story. According to local CBS affiliate, Atlanta WGCL CBS 46 (video), Emelina Ramirez Bojorquez is the pregnant mother of two beautiful young girls, Wendy – age 8, and Karla – age 3. While her attackers were punching and hitting her in the stomach, she asked her daughter to call 911. When Carrollton police arrived at the scene, the xenophobic police officer at the scene, Lt. James Perry, decided to arrest Emelina and only one of her attackers instead of asking questions because he did not speak Spanish. He charged her with simple battery and took her to jail.
Lt. Perry told the LA Times he went back to the house after Emelina was arrested and her daughter provided officers with eyewitness information. Lt. Perry states, before asking any questions about what happened, he asked the inhabitants for identification and observed “both body language and verbal language that led me to believe they might be illegal.” In other words, they had to be an “illegal” because they look and spoke different.
…The focus of the LA Times story was on GA’s new state law, Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, which was just enacted, making it one of the nation’s toughest laws against illegal immigration. The law is every Latina/o (both native and foreign born) worst nightmare come true. The new law requires law enforcement officers to check the citizenship status and criminal record of any Brown person they see. It also directs the state Public Safety Department to select and train Georgia state patrol officers to carry out federal immigration law while carrying out regular duties.
It is already being reported by local activist in GA that xenophobic cops are taking the liberty to go beyond what the law is asking. They have reported that cops are already running background checks on every Latinas/os who have committed misdemeanors, such as minor traffic violations, or even those who go to the police to report thefts or fraud.
Tuesday was Troy Anthony Davis’ scheduled execution day, though I have no idea if he is an innocent person. I do know that he was convicted of the 1989 killing of a police officer, Mark Allen MacPhail, in Savannah, Ga. And I know that he was on the scene, a Burger King parking lot, that fateful night.
But I also know that Mr. Davis has always maintained his innocence. And that no physical evidence – no gun, no fingerprint, no DNA – ever tied him to the crime. And that he was convicted on the testimony of nine key witnesses. And that seven of them have now recanted.
They lied, they say. They were scared, they were bullied and threatened, and they said what the cops wanted to hear. Of the two witnesses who have not recanted, one is a fellow named Sylvester “Red” Coles; some witnesses claim he’s the one who actually shot Mr. MacPhail when the officer tried to break up a parking lot altercation.
Monday, one day before Mr. Davis was scheduled to die, the state parole board issued a 90-day stay of execution.
You and I have no idea how that must feel, either, but we can imagine. The buried man gets a sip of air. The paralyzed man moves his toe.
And then back down into the coffin, back down into the tomb of your own skin, back in line to die.
Surely Mr. Davis’ lawyers have explained to him the 1996 federal law, signed by President Bill Clinton, that is throwing roadblocks in his way. Designed to streamline capital cases, it restricts the introduction of exculpatory evidence once the state appeals process is done.
But just as surely, Mr. Davis, if he is innocent, must wonder how he could have presented evidence he didn’t yet have. And he must wonder, too, how there can be a time limit on truth – especially when a human life is at stake. How can you execute a man when there remain serious questions about his guilt?
That’s barbarism, not justice.
federal judge Thursday ordered the government to pay more than $101 million in the case of four men who spent decades in prison for a 1965 murder they didn’t commit after the FBI withheld evidence of their innocence.
The FBI encouraged perjury, helped frame the four men and withheld for more than three decades information that could have cleared them, U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner said in issuing her ruling Thursday.
She called the government’s argument that the FBI had no duty to get involved in the state case “absurd.”
I know what happened to these men is horrible. Being framed for a crime you didn’t commit ranks right up there on the list of truly horrible things that can happen to you. I’m just saying that I look out for these stories, and I’ve never seen a mistreated Black man get THIS kind of restitution from the government.
Well, sometimes. But not quite as much. Robert Clark did get $1.2 million from the Georgia House for the 25 years he spent wrongly imprisoned for rape. But, as this old PBS documentary shows, many more get nothing at all. And the few who do usually have organizations like The Innocence Project on their sides.
Maybe it just comes down to whose life is worth how much?