Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What's Race Got To Do - Got To Do With It

Due to the nature of this blog I never know what I'll be writing about next. Zero advance preparation is put into topics of discussion as my posts are nearly always a reaction to something interesting going on in the world, my personal take whenever I feel the urge to contribute to the narrative. I did not think there was much chance I'd be writing about Casey Anthony because I had paid insufficient attention to the matter as it unfolded. On my way up the TV dial to obtain daily intake of political postering I frequently passed by Nancy Grace's show. Every so often I'd pause, just long enough to gather that the case centered on a woman who had been photographed partying perhaps a bit too hard, although countless similar shots can be found on Facebook serving as profile pictures. From this I gathered Nancy and most likely the prosecutor as well was aiming to prove Casey was an unfit mother. Plenty of unfit parents do not resort to murder of course, but certainly this non June Cleaver type behavior was being displayed to indicate Casey had her own interests at heart over those of her child.

I noticed from the number and frequency of comments on Facebook and Twitter that many people were following the trial with voyeuristic fascination. The consensus appeared to be that the majority believed Casey to be guilty and wanted her to pay dearly. I was unable to tell from these glimpses if the defense or the prosecution was doing a better job of proving its case beyond doubt, but most people outside the jury box were inclined to believe the prosecutor.

When the Not Guilty verdicts were read aloud I fully expected the mass outcry to follow. Far more surprising to me were the various comments about race being a factor. Throughout the trial I don't believe I saw a single statement about racist motivation pertaining to the case. From what I could tell the various participants in this particular tragedy were white. I learned when the verdict was pronounced that the judge was black, but so what? The chatter was not about a demonstration of bias on his part. I began to ask in earnest on Twitter - What's race got to do with it? One person basically replied - Oh, you know. No, I really didn't. I was sincerely clueless, though perhaps in hindsight I should have anticipated the reaction. But at that moment I legitimately wanted to know who the heck had behaved in a racist manner towards who in this matter, and why was it not remarked upon until a verdict was rendered.

Soon enough I got my answer. The verdict was supposedly racist because a white person who most (and that would include other white people) believed to be guilty of a crime was acquitted. White privilege on full display. Had Casey been black she would've gotten the chair. Never mind that the alleged victim was a white child. People started bringing up the OJ Simpson verdict even though it in no way bolstered their argument about racism in effect. Both cases illustrate that a person of any race can get away with killing white adults and children if they have good enough lawyers. Also possibly if the evidence against them is insufficient or if they happen to truly be not guilty, which isn't quite the same thing as being innocent, but in a court of law it's close enough.

When people began bringing up Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress I grew increasingly baffled. Other than also being high profile legal cases, what was the connection, what point did they prove exactly? That black people not named OJ are always found guilty and whites are always set free? That's a pretty easy theory to disprove, isn't it? The names of Oscar Grant as well as Aiyanna Jones, another little girl lost, also surfaced with tenuous connections made to the Casey Anthony trial. One name that did not come up was Derrion Albert - yet another somber cautionary tale.

Do I believe too many black people are doing jail time for drug related crimes because it's the most convenient way to attempt escape from a cycle of poverty? Yes, I do. Do I believe there have been many cases of racial profiling (most of which don't make the news) by police officers? Yes I do, even though I also appreciate how difficult a job cops have and recognize that for the most part they are the good guys on our side. But do I believe the judicial system is set up exclusively to screw over black people and simply make a few whites a little nervous before sending them back home? That's preposterous, no? Yet that is what many seem to believe.

It's one thing to acknowledge that racism by certain whites against blacks in general exists, another to point at every single perceived injustice as proof of racism at work. Here's what I've learned about life. 1) Some things are my own damn fault. If I want a better result I need to step up my game. 2) In certain cases as Howard Jones told us - No one is to blame. Another name for this phenomenon is Shit Happens. 3) Sometimes someone in particular will not give me a fair shake, not on account of race but because they're a jerk or perhaps believe (falsely of course) that I'm a jerk. Bias may not be fair at times, but nor is it always race based. 4) In the remainder of instances perhaps the way I've been treated has been a direct result of my personal ratio of coffee to milk.

The line between well warranted cynicism and self-pity party delusion isn't all that thin - Is it?

I echoed these sentiments on Twitter in abbreviated form and the most tangible result I noticed was a handful of lost followers. Shame on them for having such a narrow minded perspective. They will not be missed. And here I am once again willing to rub people the wrong way rather than nodding in agreement with folly and trying to sell books. Must be a reason for it.

REST IN PEACE, Caylee Anthony - child of God.

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