Part two in a series, “Unfair and Un-American”
Blacks Most often proven guilty, erroneously
According to Christina Swarns of the Innocence Project, anyone can become a victim of wrongful conviction, but it happens most often to people of color. She thinks those numbers speak to the continuing public perception of a link between race and criminality. Because we are constantly barraged with media images of Black people as criminals, it is easier for Americans to overlook evidence of innocence when they are confronted with a person of color than when they are confronted with a White person. (www.innocence project.org)
Its Un-American and We’re Better Than This
This is not to suggest that the only individuals who suffer injustices in the criminal justice system or in other aspects of life are Black. It is most unfortunate for any citizen to be victimized by those who are compensated to protect them. It is even more unfortunate that most of these victims are of the same minority race. This aspect of the problem should be the easiest to correct and it should be corrected as a priority of what is supposed to be the best of what is American.
“The DNA exonerations reveal how race can affect arrest and conviction of an innocent person. DNA testing has the potential to correct these injustices, although it’s available in only a small percentage of criminal cases. An innocent person can be falsely accused of a crime he did not commit based solely on the neighborhood where he lives and previous contact with the police. Additional research should be pursued to correct the wrongs that race plays in convicting the innocent.” (ibid.)
I have served to assist enough persons seeking employment who have criminal records to overcome, to know exoneration or other methods of repaying one’s debt to society do not return the innocent or repentant to their original advantageous status. Some persons do not want them to have opportunities to earn honest livings with good compensation. Sometimes, they must repay that debt again and again.
“When it comes to racially lopsided arrests, the most remarkable thing about Ferguson, Mo., might be just how ordinary it is. Police in Ferguson arrest black people at a rate nearly three times higher than people of other races. At least 1,581 other police departments across the USA arrest black people at rates even more skewed than in Ferguson, a USA TODAY analysis of arrest records shows. That includes departments in cities as large and diverse as Chicago and San Francisco and in the suburbs that encircle St. Louis, New York and Detroit.” (Brad Heath, USA Today, November 18, 2014)
In a simple activity such as traveling in our country, Blacks and Hispanics do not enjoy equality when it comes to visiting friends and relatives in different places, touring the interesting communities of America, or even going to and from work. Driving while Black or Hispanic has proven to be dangerous because racial profiling and police brutality make such travel hazardous to the dignity, health, and life of law-abiding black and Hispanic citizens.
“Our criminal laws, while facially neutral, are enforced in a manner that is massively and pervasively biased. The injustices of the criminal justice system threaten to render irrelevant fifty years of hard-fought civil rights progress.
“In 1964 Congress passed the Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination in employment. Yet today, three out of every ten African American males born in the United States will serve time in prison, a status that renders their prospects for legitimate employment bleak and often bars them from obtaining professional licenses.
“In 1968 Congress passed the Fair Housing Act. Yet today, the current housing for approximately 2 million Americans – two-thirds of them African American or Hispanic – is a prison or jail cell.” (www.civilrights.org/publications/reports/)
How can we enjoy any sense of equality if there is little opportunity to acquire any wealth from relatives for numerous illegal reasons, travel across country to take our children to a college offering a scholarship could be very dangerous, or getting a good paying job may be denied due to a police record which may be based on racial discrimination or many other sociological roadblocks?
These and other such issues do not stop everyone. There are numerous persons who persevere and overcome impossible obstacles. It can be and is done daily but no group should be required to be extraordinary in order to achieve the ordinary.
What about those multi-million dollar bonus-paying jobs? Does anyone suspect that race may be a factor? The Federal Reserve Board was paying up to $85 billion per month as Quantitative Easing for a Wall Street stimulus and the big banks while Congress was saying the middle class and lower income citizens did not deserve $5 billion for food stamps and unemployment compensation. These funds for the benefit of those who were between jobs were a greater benefit for the big grocery super markets and mortgage companies. The point is, our public officials too often acquire wealth by using public funds to enhance those who contribute to the public troughs.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, NIV). It is time for justice and righteousness to come out of retirement and assume sufficient courage to resist that which is destructive, greedy, selfish, and evil. May those with integrity lead the way.