Saturday, a jury of six women decided that following a young man who is doing nothing unlawful and shooting him dead is not murder. It's not even manslaughter. It's not even punishable by arrest. As though pursuing someone is not an aggressive act. As though pursuit does not constitute initiative. As though following a stranger, saying "these assholes always get away... fucking goons" (or coons, whatever), does not indicate malice of forethought. As though carrying a concealed weapon in pursuit of someone does not demonstrate intent. As though an unarmed teen being chased would not cry out for help before an armed man in pursuit. Meanwhile, a woman is sent to prison for 20 years for firing warning shots to scare off an abusive husband who was threatening her and violating his restraining order. Again, as though pursuit is not an act of aggression. A child -- in the eyes of the law, and a woman were not deemed worthy of the right to liberty, free passage, and failing that, self-defense, in their own country.
It's clear we have a caste system in which certain people have no ground to stand on, and others are allowed to stand by whatever ground they happen to see. The question is, whose ground is it to defend? As I sit here alone in my LA apartment, far removed from Sanford, Fl., trying to digest the collective flood of sad information -- the rampant rancor between people that causes them to wish death upon each other... as I wonder about the legacy of slavery -- legal crime -- and how to explain that legacy to those who believe we are all equal under the law... I get the following help from the voice of Tyrone Power playing a Hindu doctor, who while tending Untouchable plague victims, says to Myrna Loy, an English lord's wife: "For centuries their caste has been asked to step aside so their shadows don't pollute ours." Thanks, writers of The Rain Came Down, (1939), for breaking it down so succinctly. "For centuries [they] have been asked to step aside so their shadows don't pollute ours." That about sums up the legacy of slavery in the U.S. It about sums up the judicial history of people of color everywhere -- those touched by the sun and tortuous labor. The inequalities of our country, a society founded by those who took from others what they believed was rightfully theirs -- a gift from God, their God; the legacy of slavery and colonialism, explained by a writer, explaining India's caste system to English speaking audiences in 1939...
The inequity of stand your ground laws, is not that it's wrong to have the right to stand your ground, it's that it's wrong that so many people have no ground on which to stand. Seems just being black is a crime. Trayvon was guilty of WWB. Walking While Black. What could he have done to prevent his own death? Run faster? Call someone else for help? Lay prostrate and play dead as if being chased by a bear, like LeVar? Have different taste in clothing? Arm himself like the crazy-ass, so-called, cracker following him? Step aside so as not to pollute with his untouchable shadow? And what should the woman have done who was denied the right to stand her ground? Should she have let the man attacking her, kill her? Wave her arms and silently play dead, like with the bear again? In the words of Rachel Jeantel, "That is real retarded, sir." It is. It is real retarded. As in, backward. As in the French, retardé, for slow and delayed. You have to be blind not to see the flaws in a legal system that allows the imprisonment and killing of innocent women and children -- blind as today's justice.
What I hope this trial brings, is a deeper awareness of our American caste system... of our startlingly militarized and balkanized system of justice. We cannot be free until we are equal. We cannot be equal until we are free.