Why justice is not enough

What’s up fam, 

Long time I know but I wanted to share some thoughts regarding where we are in history. Like you I was excited to see Obama inaugurated as President of the United States but my heart is still heavy when I reflect on Oscar Grant. Right now I am reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s book entitled, Where Do We Go From Here and it is an excellent read. One of the most powerful ideas is when King makes the argument that America has received justice on the cheap and needs to make a real investment in justice and equality.

In today’s context, I think about the American myth that the election of Obama is the ultimate symbol of justice and has redeemed from its sordid past in treating and enslaving Black folks. I understand the historical nature of this election but America, you chose the best person to lead this nation and the fact that Obama is Black should not be misunderstood to negate the giants in African-American history. So get over yourselves and think about how much more change we would have if equality for all people was truly a part of our national character.  Part of me wishes Obama had a son so that America could see a young Black boy and two Black girls grow up. Think about the people that came across Obama during his teens when he was experimenting with drugs and struggled with having an absent father? How many people truly took him in or just saw a troubled Black face. Black boys grow up to be men and given the opportunities of a good education, (in Obama’s case, prep school, Columbia, and Harvard) they can, like anyone else, contribute greatly to our nation’s prowess. 

In the case of Oscar Grant, I think about all the people I went to school with that are passionate about justice, especially when the media highlights clear cases of police brutality. I think the problem is that getting justice for Oscar Grant is not a question of whether or not the cop that shot him gets put in jail, although he should definitely be punished. Rather, it is far more important to think about justice in the sense that Oscar shouldn’t have been shot in the first place! So much of the Black experience is managing fear and hope. Hopeful to have a new car and fear that you are going to get pulled over by a cop who has seen too many shoot em’ up television shows and movies. Grant was face down on the cement and was shot in the back. Justice goes to proper training programs for police that stress protecting people and not terrorizing them. For me, justice is more about what happens before the crime. 

Real justice requires an investment in quality education for all, restructuring our criminal justice system, requiring racial impact statements be implemented in our zoning codes and a host of other issues that require money, not symbols. 

Stay up fam, 

Brandon Q.


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