I am struggling with the murder of Troy Davis by the state of Georgia.
“I am Troy Davis,” cried the throngs of supporters who battled to turn his death sentence around. Indeed, we are all Troy Davis – we could be charged with something in the blink of an eye simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
For a black American male, the reality of “I am Troy Davis” is quadrupled. Black men have been stopped by police because they drive a nice car. Sadly referred to in South Florida as, “Driving while Black.” The stereotypical scenario that an expensive car and a black man, in some areas, is a red flag. The first suspicion? The car was stolen.
How can a racist nation; a nation that murders people, be thought of as civilized? It can’t.
It seems the criminal justice systems of the deep south have three versions of criminal law – separated by the classes. The very poor black man is guilty until proven innocent; the same is nearly true in the sluggish criminal justice system for the middle class; and there’s the rich person’s justice where fat-cats play and money is made via pay offs.
As an idealist, I am loathe to see this divide. But when a white man is given clemency by the Georgia Parole Board the very next night as Troy Davis’ murder, there is clearly something wrong! Read the Reuters story about Samuel David Crowe’s clemency.
We know the original United States Constitution denied black persons the same rights as white persons. That sacred set of rules by which we live was originally littered with racism. There is no denying that America, at one time, judged people by the color of their skin. Throughout history white persons were afforded privileges well above and beyond the meager allowances of black citizens.
I remember, as a little girl growing up in South Florida, there were “colored” beaches, and beaches for everyone else. My mother has told me for years that as a child I wanted to drink from the “colored” water fountain because I thought it would be colored water, like fruit punch. I thought “colored” people were made of primary colors. I suppose I associated it with my colored crayons.
Fortunately, I had an advantage over other kids my age. My father was a teacher in a black school, in the sixties, and I grew up knowing his students, and fellow teachers. He and my mom made sure I went to segregated schools. I never knew how racist the United States really was until I entered college. Well, I knew about slavery before college, but had a difficult time believing it until the television mini-series “Roots,” aired and I learned how I saw the world and how it really was, were very divergent.
I wasn’t a very good student in high-school; I only cared about singing, dancing and acting. What was on my mind back then was practicing how to write my signature when people wanted my autograph, coming up with different stage names, creating scenarios for when I met Barbra Streisand and what I’d talk to her about. (I had pages and pages of things to talk to her about – and I’d practice the conversations, too.) She was my obsession and I was so sure I was going to meet her as soon as I was famous.
Sorry, I was talking about Troy Davis.
I don’t know that Troy Davis was innocent. I don’t know enough about the crime itself (yet) to really pass judgement on “innocence” though many people are making that leap of faith. What is bothersome to me is all the doubt that people are saying existed in this case.
The murder weapon was never found and seven of the “eye” witnesses recanted their testimony. There was no DNA, Troy Davis has denied being the trigger-man, and is insisting he is innocent. (A lot of criminals go to their grave denying they committed the crime – look at Casey Anthony.) Just because a defendant maintains their innocence means nothing in the big picture – criminals will lie.
In the Troy Davis case, because enough doubt has been raised over the years should have at least raised the white flag of surrender to clemency for Davis, don’t you think?
The fact that Georgia and the Supreme Court did not err on the side of life for Troy Davis makes a statement. The statement, in my estimation, is one that informs us that Georgia is callous as it concerns race relations. I was sure the Georgia Politicians would be sensitive about race, and therefore do the right thing – so as to not suffer the consequences of political suicide. The fact that Georgia lawmakers and politicians did not take a stand on this issue is alarming.
The politicians must believe that the populace prefers a lynching rather than what Spike Lee called, “Doing the Right Thing.”
The cartoon by Chan Lowe was published September 23, 2011, by the Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune Company.