We’re at the intersection of racism, guns, and the death penalty. Again.
“Disappointed, but not surprised.”
That phrase became commonplace in the weekly virtual chats that I started having with a close friend at the beginning of the pandemic.
We used it repeatedly as we discussed the increasingly absurd national events of the week. We were frequently and simultaneously shocked and enraged into speechlessness—and that was the only thing we could think of to express our avalanche of feelings without drowning in them.
That whole period of time was surreal with the violence and ignorance that seemed to reach a higher peak with each passing day. And yet it still continues, as it has since our country’s founding.
I know that many people believe that our country was built on freedom and equality. But don’t most of us know by now what complete bullsh*t that is?
Our country was quite literally built on racism, violence, and inequality.
It was built by wealthy white men for wealthy white men on the backs of the oppressed, and that’s how it still functions to this day.
Wealthy white men still manage to maintain their power through a barrage of unethical and often illegal means while encouraging the racism to continue by inciting violence through fear-based rhetoric and propaganda.
I was shocked and appalled this week when I learned that Kyle Rittenhouse, who murdered two people, was found not guilty of all charges. And also, I wasn’t at all surprised.
If Rittenhouse had been black, he would be on death row (if he had even lived through the arrest), just like Julius Darius Jones has been for nearly 20 years.
Ironically, Jones was granted clemency this week, the day before Rittenhouse’s verdict and only four hours before he was set to be executed.
People from all over the country fought on Jones’ behalf. That wasn’t the case for Rittenhouse—yet, he’s free while Jones remains behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.
Despite the mountain of evidence that maintains Jones’ innocence, that’s likely where he’ll stay while his family, friends, and those working and protesting on his behalf continue the battle for his freedom.
There’s no justice on either side because justice in America is a farce, just like freedom. It’s made to be black and white. Both literally and figuratively.
The world isn’t black and white, though. It’s gray. It’s all gray.
Isn’t it time to evolve past the alternate reality of colonial rules, laws, and “values” that nearly half of the country seems to be stuck in (all while organizing vigilante insurrections via Facebook using their iPhones)? Past racism? Past the death penalty? Past mob mentality? Past citizens wielding military grade weapons?
These archaic exercises in toxic masculinity have no place in our modern society. Yet, here they still are.
Maybe I’m actually the one living in an altered state of existence, though. One where I’m wishing for a world free of racism, prisons, and guns. A world where everyone has a place to live and food to eat. A place where everyone can get an equal education and appropriate medical and mental health care. A place where equal justice isn’t just a pipe dream and the death penalty doesn’t exist.
A born-too-late hippie wishing for a world of peace, love, and freedom—because for all our differences and no matter how we choose to frame them, isn’t that really all that any of us actually want anyway?