some kind of justice

As the mother and champion of an uncommon child—a boy who is nonverbal, legally blind, incontinent and suffers from a serious brain anomaly, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, autism and chronic epilepsy—I can describe instances of being neglected, unheard, misunderstood, dismissed, marginalized, patronized, and maligned by public servants, medical experts and society at large. I know the anguish of having a child who is sometimes treated as insignificant, undeserving, fringe, and in ways scorned and feared. I know what it feels like when others, whose care he is under—doctors, teachers, aides, nurses—don't hold themselves accountable when he gets hurt. I get angry, frustrated and indignant at what I see as injustice. Yet despite the struggles, heartaches and miseries of being Calvin's mother, I've never felt unsafe, vulnerable, discounted or mistrusted merely because of the color of my skin.

On Tuesday, I held my breath awaiting the verdict in the trial of George Floyd's modern-day lynching. Finally, I heard the words describing the homicidal defendant: Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. I exhaled and wept. I thought to myself, finally, some kind of justice, for another unconscionable offense amid generations of neglect, condemnation, oppression, abuse and murder of African Americans. 

Yet, Tuesday's guilty verdict doesn't mean the end of injustice, in the same way electing a Black president is not evidence that we are in a post-racial America.

Equity remains elusive for millions of Americans in this nation of so-called liberty and justice for all. Injustice and barbarism are the foundation of this nation's mostly-white wealth built from the ills of white supremacy, on stolen indigenous land, by generations of the enslavement, exploitation, abuse, terrorization, torture and murder of Black men, women and children. Today's mass incarceration of African Americans is a relic of slavery and Jim Crow, a way to continue profiting off of their bodies, to subjugate, disenfranchise, disempower. White supremacy and racism in this country are not superficial; like some tumors, they're pervasive and malignant, must be strangled or cut out.

Consider that many Black Americans are still fighting for: the right to vote; the right to live in decent neighborhoods and homes; lead-free water; proper healthcare; decent educations; affordable apartments; fair loans; decent jobs, raises, living wages; executive desks and seats in the boardroom; the right to move about freely; to safely drive, walk, jog, birdwatch, nap, barbecue and breathe; the right to take a knee in peaceful protest against their abuse and murder at the hands of vigilantes and the police. All because of the sound of their names and/or the color of their skin.

So, too, Black Americans are still fighting against being racially profiled and therefore unjustly suspected, stopped and frisked, pulled over and assailed, followed, stalked, interrogated, bullied, roughed up, falsely accused, arrested, jailed, unjustly sentenced, choked or shot before they even have a chance to state their case.

Today, we can breathe a sigh of relief for some kind of justice done in a Minneapolis courtroom last Tuesday, but the nation at large—with its toxic white supremacy infiltrating our military, police forces, conservative media, and halls of Congress, and its harmful racist policies and practices from healthcare and housing to law enforcement—is far from fulfilling its promise of liberty and justice for all.

Celebrating the guilty verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin,in George Floyd Square on Tuesday.Credit...Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

1 comment:

  1. Powerful and well said. Thank you for continuing to write! Reading from Portland.