Friday, June 13, 2008

Yes, Race Matters

There’s so much loose talk around these days about criminals getting away with things. Only someone who get their ideas exclusively from movies could believe it. In that setting, it makes good drama and sets up a satisfying blood bath. In real life, most “criminals” are down, down, down.

In fact, if they’re Black, they’re way fucking down. How’d this be for a movie:

Young man, twenty or so, comes home to find a man beating up his mother in the kitchen of their home. His mother is hurt already, bleeding from a couple of places. The son jumps in to save his mother, and a terrific battle ensues, in the course of which the son kind of half pulls the man’s ear off. Police arrive at the scene. The son is arrested along with the man who was beating up his mother.

The man who was beating up the mother was let go, not enough evidence of a crime, but the cops kept him close as exhibit one in the case against the son. Some Assistant DA had a brainstorm: regarding the Assault and Battery the son can plead defense of another, that’d work, but if we charge him with Mayhem, he has no defense! Genius.

Technically, Mayhem is anything done by one person to another which would reduce that man’s effectiveness if called to fight for the King, like cutting something off, or blinding a person. Cutting, or pulling off an ear, qualifies. It’s still on the books. The man who was beating up the mother appears as a witness, the mother has no role in the trial, and the young man is found guilty.

I met the man some time later. I don’t know what the original sentence was, but it was long, and he was in California big-wall prisons for eighteen years. He was a really nice guy, he shook his head telling me the story, and it was like he still didn’t really believe it either, he didn’t seem to bear the state any malice.

He was the single blackest person that I have ever met. He was much blacker than coal, much blacker than car tires. I have seen crows almost as black, but they reflect too much light to be as black as this guy. Any black that you can name was a cheerful grey next to his skin. He was so black, his gums were jet black; he was so black, the palms of his hands were black. It’s a tough life for a Black man in America. If he were White, he’d have gotten a medal for saving his mother. Black? Eighteen years.

Good material for a movie? Nope. No one wants to be reminded about the absurd treatment that Black people receive in the name of American Justice.

All American Blacks have similar stories, not so extreme, but similar. Maybe no jail time in the story, but it sure is something bad that would never happen to a White person in a million years. Get to know a Black person and once they get to trusting you they’ll tell you their story. I have shaken my head in wonder at many such stories. It’s quite an education.

No comments: