Human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson represents those who have been abandoned. His clients are people on death row — abused and neglected children who were prosecuted as adults and placed in adult prisons where they were beaten and sexually abused, and mentally disabled people whose illnesses helped land them in prison where their special needs were unmet.
Today he spoke to us about justice in the 21st century:
"The new statistic from the Justice [Department] is really disheartening: The Justice Department is now reporting that one in three black male babies born in the 21st century is expected to go to jail or prison. The statistic for Latino boys is one in six. That statistic was not true in the 20th century. It was not true in the 19th century. It didn’t become true until the 21st century. That means we have enormous work to do to improve our commitment to society that is not haunted and undermined and corrupted by our legacy of racial inequality.”
So my facebook friend just posted this pic with this text….
Well, I just witnessed blatant racial injustice with my own eyes. I was getting in my car after exiting a store when a young black man stumbled past me and collapsed against the store wall. When I got out to see if he was okay, a group of white people came rushing over, one of whom was a 20-something white woman who declared in distress, “I ran a red light and hit him with my car!” People immediately assured her that SHE would be okay, meanwhile the young man is writhing in pain on the ground, pants leg torn, tears running down his face. When the police arrived and the young woman explained what happened, it was suggested to her that maybe the light had been yellow and that the young man had “darted out into the street into her path.” I was floored. I said, “But she just SAID she ran the red light and hit him in the intersection!”
The police officers then led the young woman away and began talking with her privately in low tones. When the paramedics FINALLY got there I was surprised at the hostility they showed towards the young man. One blonde female EMT (shown in the photo) suggested that he couldn’t be THAT hurt if he was able to walk from the place where he was struck to the sidewalk where he finally collapsed. White bystanders commented several times about “What that poor girl must be going through.” I was the only one who commented on what the young man must be going through, what, with his mangled leg and all. I am absolutely positive that in the end “that poor girl” will be absolved of all wrongdoing and be able to go on her merry way. After all, she just ran a red light and slammed her car into the body of some black kid on a bike, right?
And people wonder why black people are so angry and want to break shit.
There comes a point in every national election year when I reach total saturation and have to tune it all out to stay sane—the nonstop streams of vitriol, the spectacles of electoral dysfunction, the ads, the ads, the ads. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. But imagine how differently we could feel about presidential elections if people like, I don’t know, Dizzy Gillespie could get on a major ticket? That’s what might have happened in 1964 if “a little-known presidential campaign… had been able to vault the millionaires-only hurdle.” What began as one of Dizzy’s famous practical jokes, and a way to raise money for CORE (Congress for Racial Equality) and other civil rights organizations became something more, a way for Dizzy’s fans to imagine an alternative to the “millionaire’s-only” club represented by Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater.
A take on his trademark tune “Salt Peanuts,” “Vote Dizzy” was Gillespie’s official campaign song and includes lyrics like:
Your politics ought to be a groovier thing Vote Dizzy! Vote Dizzy! So get a good president who’s willing to swing Vote Dizzy! Vote Dizzy!
It’s definitely groovier than either one of our current campaigns. Dizzy “believed in civil rights, withdrawing from Vietnam and recognizing communist China,” and he wanted to make Miles Davis head of the CIA, a role I think would have suited Miles perfectly. Although Dizzy’s campaign was something of a publicity stunt for his politics and his persona, it’s not unheard of for popular musicians to run for president in earnest. In 1979, revolutionary Nigerian Afrobeat star Fela Kuti put himself forward as a candidate in his country, but was rejected. More recently, Haitian musician and former Fugee Wyclef Jean attempted a sincere run at the Haitian presidency, but was disqualified for reasons of residency. It’s a little hard to imagine a popular musician mounting a serious presidential campaign in the U.S., but then again, the 80s were dominated by the strange reality of a former actor in the White House, so why not? In any case, revisiting Dizzy Gillespie’s mid-century political theater may provide a needed respite from the onslaught of the current U.S. campaign season. [x]