Not Afraid of "The Man"
Tales from death row: Justice for Rodney Reed by Caitlin Adams
"...liberty and justice for all" FREE RODNEY REED!
Injustice time as of this writing: 132,243 hours 5,510 days.
"Judging from the main portions of the history of the world, so far, justice is always in jeopardy."--Walt Whitman
James Baldwin's powerful story, Going to Meet the Man, of what it was and sadly, still is, to be a black man in America, is a story that is as relevant today as the day it was written and is the inspiration for this week's blog.
In the America of 2012, the America, of "color blindness", where race, racism are portrayed as non- issues - where Americans collectively breathe a sigh of relief that those days are over - is a very dangerous and dishonest America. The only thing that color blindness has done is made it possible for all the old prejudices, biases, beliefs to go underground, hidden from view, so it's possible for the vast majority of Americans to ignore the devastating reality and consequences of that dishonesty. When the vast majority of people under the control of the justice system (7 million +) are people of color, when the vast majority of neighborhoods and people who are targeted by the War on Drugs are people of color - despite the fact, that research, statistics of every type clearly show that whites are as likely to engage in criminal behavior as people of color - how is it that no one seems to be crying out for justice?
Michele Alexander in her powerful book, The New Jim Crow, eloquently and painstakingly shows, that the age of "color blindness" is simply more of the same callousness and lack of care and concern for our fellow human beings that has been, a not so admirable part of the American legacy since America's beginnings.
When I visited Rodney this last visit, he talked about, how for as long as he's been on this earth, he simply refused to live his life, "afraid of the man". He knew the risks as a black man living in the deep south of Texas that his decision carried a certain amount of risk and he chose despite the risks to live as a man, a man unafraid. Even knowing that the unspoken rules of acceptable black behavior were very much alive and well - he chose to live unafraid and even on death row, having experienced the absolute worst "the man" could throw at him, he still chooses to live unafraid and still believes, that ultimately, the system that put him in prison for a crime he did not commit is -"a good system".
I know James Baldwin would be proud.
Thanks Soul Man for challenging me, for sharing your experience and perspective, for "pointing to the moon", as all good teachers do.