There is a lot of evidence out there that proves it is essential that people of color do as much as possible to engage our justice system until we successfully find mechanisms to mitigate its biases. You see it reflects its participants at large whether we are talking about judges, juries, or witnesses.
Today an incident occurred in the parking lot that gave me pause because of the perspective of one who could’ve been a witness. Her voice in our justice system would have corrupted truth.
Here is the incident as I described it in my Facebook post which is getting quite a few comments. Feel free to chime in.
Those of you who know me know that while I discuss race I make sure to never use the “race card” as I think it really defeats the fundamental racial issues. In this country. I understand the biases in this country very well. One of the reasons I have always said I do what is necessary to stay clear of the justice system is because it represents all the biases endemic within the population at large. Now that I’ve made this preface, here is my story.
I drove up to Starbucks and was backing up into a parking stop. A young kid driving likely did not see my reverse lights. I was backing up at a crawling pace. When he realized I was backing up he started backing up without looking back slowly as well. He backed into a very expensive SUV that sustained no damage. This was all in slow motion. The young white kid jumped out of the car very apologetic to the guy driving the very expensive SUV.
By the time I got out of my car all I heard was this white middle-aged man screaming at the top of his lungs at the kid who by now was scared to a completely red face.
There was a white woman I don’t know sitting outside at the table. There is another white woman, a friend of mine sitting outside as well.
I asked the first one what happened. I was shocked at the way she told the story. She said because I was backing up (into the parking lot) I forced the kid to back up so I would not hit him and he, in turn, hit the SUV.
To be clear, (1) the kid never got close to my car, (2) I was moving very slowly, (3) the kid started backing up very slowly to ensure he did not obstruct the parking space I was backing into and in not looking back he tapped the bumper of the expensive SUV.
Ultimately, the young kid made a mistake and a middle-aged man showed little sympathy for a kid who made a mistake the middle-aged man’s kid could have made.
The other white woman, my friend, recounted the story exactly as I described it and unlike the first woman who, in the telling, of the story would have applied partial blame to me.
I do not overreact to anything nor am I overreacting to this incident. I am pointing this out simply to say that given exactly what occurred it is hard for someone like me not to look at this incident and seriously wonder if the first woman’s perspective was race-based.
If you are reading this please comment. You know I won’t be judgmental with whatever you say whether I disagree or not.
You may ask what does this have to do with the justice system. After all, I was not supposed to be a part of the incident that occurred. Right? Had the expensive SUV been damaged and police officers came out to question witnesses, I could have been made a party to the accident had they spoken to that one witness.
But as usual, there is always someone with a better story that makes the point much better. David Reid left the following comment.
When I was in my 20’s I got out of the passenger side of a car at a local mall, and stepped into an empty parking spot.(next to the spot the driver parked in). I was going to the mall with a bunch of my cousins. I waved to my cousin in the other car that there was an empty parking spot, I was waving for maybe 30-40 seconds. Just then a white middle age lady whipped into the parking spot I was standing in, and almost hit me. I jumped. She then yelled “MOVE” out of the window. I said lady you almost hit me with my back to you. She then started blowing the horn loudly. I said what are you doing? She said she’s going to get mall security. I said OK do that I’ll wait for them. A lady ran out of the mall and said she saw the whole thing that I had jumped in front of her car. Well mall security came out, took their statement and said I needed to move because they had called the cops. I said OK I’ll move, but I’ll wait for the cops. The cops came, I told them, I know there is a security camera looking here (my sister worked at the mall so I know), I asked the cop if the ladies wanted to make the same statement knowing there is video evidence of her almost hitting me. The lady who almost hit me and the white bystander faces got red, the driver then shouted “their better not be any damage to my car when I come out!”. I waved and laughed at her walking off. My point is really about the bystander, no idea what she really thought she saw.
It was clear from the reaction of the women in David’s story that the malice from these women, which could have had detrimental legal ramifications for him, was not subliminal but intentional. And so is the reality for people of color who enter into a justice system that preaches to be color blind. What colors the jury’s, judge’s, the prosecutor’s sense of justice? One could say well that could apply to many other attributes other than race. That would be and is likely true. The issue is that the racial dimension is that more pervasive and over-encompassing and immutable.
How could our justice system be color blind or unbiased when the building blocks of society are its raw materials. We live in a society where not even irrefutable video evidence can get police officers and sometimes just citizens convicted of murdering people of color.
PS: I am getting very civil and intelligent comments and conversation on the post. I simply love the folks that I interact with whether I agree with them or not. BTW, I had another “event” at Starbucks a few months ago as well.