A nation divided

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

It is quite apparent after the not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman that all is not calm in   America. In fact it only fuels the feeling that we have a racially divided America, where there appears to be a double standard of justice when it comes to treating everyone fairly. While there are many factors that determine the judicial outcome of individuals, many people of color feel that the criminal justice system penalizes minorities, especially Blacks when compared to their White counterparts. These feelings   are only legitimized when time after time you find a disproportionate number of Blacks arrested, incarcerated, indicted and found guilty for crimes where many of their White counterparts are literally given a slap on the wrist or found not guilty.

The criminal justice system is so flawed that everyone, even children, know that that the outcome of most cases depends on one’s economic or racial identity. Rich and affluent clients are privy to the best lawyers who literally dangle a get out of jail free card in their clients’ faces. How can five people commit the same identical crime and get five different outcomes ranging from fines, incarceration, probation, to being found not guilty. It seems to be all about social status, wealth, and race because you find more Whites in the economic position to bribe, sway, or manipulate Lady Justice.

Why would one find it so hard to understand why Blacks for the most part feel that the American criminal system is systematically biased—composed of laws that directly and indirectly penalize people of color? This feeling is not just talk but a reality that many Blacks feel or live daily with many of their family members or relatives subjected to the injustices of the criminal justice system.

In the case of the murder of Trayvon Martin, the sentiments expressed by many interested in the truth are that if a Black man had killed a White boy the circumstances would have been completely different.  The Black man would have been arrested immediately after possibly being beaten by the authorities and without a doubt given life imprisonment. That is the type of justice that many Blacks see in America where Blacks are profiled or targeted for the most part because of their race. This treatment is only fed by a White controlled media constantly portraying Blacks in a hostile and negative light. Whites generally feel uncomfortable, opting for stricter laws that will deter or have dire consequences for those who choose to break these laws—disproportionately affecting African American males.

Unfortunately, it seems that many Whites feel only Black people break the law or participate in unlawful activities. Whites represent the majority of the population, therefore should represent most of the lawbreakers. However, Blacks represent only a relatively small percent of the population but represent a disproportionate part of the prison population. Blacks are not asking to be exempt from laws. However, laws should not be enacted directly or indirectly targeting them and giving them harsher penalties exempt from their white counterparts. African Americans are asking that everyone be treated fairly and subjected to the laws equally.

Many Whites may disagree with this assessment based on a country where they have grown up with privileges and entitlements making them insensitive to the suffering and economic and social disadvantages of those of other races. Many Whites fail to see that in the case of Trayvon Martin, he was someone’s child who was racially profiled and pursued—culminating in his unnecessary death. A death that could have been prevented if the pursuer had followed orders from authorities. How would they feel if their child was profiled and pursued—ending in their untimely death?

As person of color, I can truly attest that we live in a country where Black reality often conflicts with White reality. There is a great White and Black racial divide in this country that cannot be denied. Only when this racial divide is acknowledged and addressed will progress be made to make this a better country. Not sitting at the table and talking about this poison will only support its ever-chronic effect.