The continuing aftermath and ongoing discussions about what constitutes justice in the tragic police shootings of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, and the choking death of Eric Garner begs the question of what justice is, and what is its color? The notion of a color blind justice system is not a novel one. Whether African Americans could realistically hope for true equality in this country is a debate that goes back to the earliest black scholars and educators such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. Sadly, this debate still rages over one hundred fifty years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and more than fifty years after Brown v. The Board of Education ostensibly ended racial discrimination in this country.
To the vast majority of whites in this country, justice was served by the grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officers responsible for the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. To most African Americans, the police shooting of the unarmed black males smell with the familiar rotten stench of decades-old police inaction to protect the rights and lives of black men, and the almost systematic and endemic brutality by white law enforcement officers against unarmed and defenseless African Americans, which far too often ends in black males being murdered. What’s most telling is the divergence of opinion on whether justice was achieved, depending on the race of whom you ask … white or black. The majority of whites feel that justice was served with the grand jury non-indictments, while blacks overwhelmingly feel that these decisions represent more of the same historic devaluing of black lives in America.
Of course this devaluation of black life is nothing new in this country. In fact it dates all the way back to the founding fathers’ drafting of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. In the definitive document of American government, and citizens’ rights, the Negro is only described as chattel or property, devoid of citizenship, representing only 3/5 of a man for purposes of quantification and valuation. With this ignominious definition of the Negro worth, is it any wonder that even today, centuries later, the value of Negro life is less than that of whites? This should be of surprise to no one. You can’t legislate away centuries of structural racism, and systemic white supremacy with the stroke of a pen or the passing of laws. The bedrock, ingrained attitudes of white superiority run too deep, and are passed down from generation to generation, despite what the politically correct pundits and politicians might mouth when the cameras are rolling. But what do they say amongst themselves, under the cloak of presumed secrecy? Donald Sterling gave the world a peek into the secret thoughts of the rich and powerful white men who run this country, although his racist remarks were dismissed as an anomaly by those media conglomerates who would seek to perpetuate the charade of a color blind, post racial society.
The truth is racism in this country is alive and as potent as ever despite and in spite of the election of a so-called “Black President.” The color of justice, just like the color of everything else in America was always intended to be white. From the framers of the Constitution, to the Presidents, Congress, judges, prosecutors, juries, police officers, universities, and institutions of finance and commerce, these stewards of justice and liberty have always been white. The integration of a darkie here or there for token appearances, can’t and hasn’t changed the fact that America is a country built and constructed for the benefit of the white race, who at heart, want to perpetuate the privilege passed down from their European ancestors who, through larceny and murder, decimated the Native American population to near extinction. There is no problem as long as those from whom the land was stolen, and those upon whose backs the economy was built, don’t try to upset what they consider the natural order of things. The equation is and always will be, white over non-white.
The recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and New York is only a symptom of the much larger problem of inequality of the races, and the perpetuation of white supremacy. At the end of the day, any supremacy is always maintained by force. The violence and brutality against blacks in this country dates back to its founding. The latest evidence of white and black polarization is only an indication of the simmering racial tensions that lie just beneath the surface, which have only been exacerbated by the election of President Barak Obama. There is still much resentment and disdain toward blacks in this country by a majority of whites who feel that they are losing control. The failure and unwillingness of white and so called black leaders to face this reality is part and parcel of the problem. We continue to kick this can down the road and pretend that racism doesn’t exist, or that it is not a problem. Yes racism exists, and it’s bad … very bad. It seems the more things have changed, the more they remain the same. Consequently, the question of justice in America as well as its color is still a matter of black and white.
Editor’s note: Gerald Torrence is a lawyer, educator, scholar, writer, social and political activist, and motivational speaker living in Atlanta. You can find more insightful opinions on TheTruthTeller at the-truth-teller.com. You can follow Gerald on Twitter @tttspokentruth.