Sunday, July 14, 2013

Lone Rangers for Justice

We were having tacos at 1 AM this morning after a late movie when we read the news:

I'm not completely sure how we ate the food in front of us.  

Then it was hard to sleep.  I checked Facebook and Twitter to make sure I was not the only person feeling absolutely blindsided by the news.  I typed and re-typed angry status updates I never posted...most of which cited, quite incredulously, the last line from the pledge to the United States flag: with liberty and justice for all.  


I was not in that courtroom in Florida.  I was not on the jury.  I cannot speak with any real authority except to wonder aloud, like so many are doing today...

How is it okay for a non-law officer to go hunting for wrong-doers with a gun in this country?  
How is it standing your ground when the person you are standing against is running away in fear? 
How is it possible to acquit a man who was told by police to leave the investigation of Treyvon Martin to them? 

I woke up this morning and the news had not changed.    
I woke up this morning and America had not changed.

On October 11, 1995, I wrote an op-ed piece that was published in the Austin American Statesman. The motivating news of the day was the OJ Simpson trial and the accusation of racially motivated misbehavior in the case by a police officer named Mark Fuhrman.

Police racism lives, and not only in L.A.

Here's the part of that 1995 editorial that was the scab scraped to bleeding this morning when we read the news about the Zimmerman verdict:

We are not the enlightened society we think we are. We have not pushed racism into some extremist's camp. We are still looking at people as us and them, good and bad, innocent and suspicious simply because of skin color. Our African American brothers and sisters have not been allowed to "get over it." Racism is alive and well in every corner of their lives.

If you are a black person in this country, this is the truth - liberty and justice for all is not a concept that applies to you.  Think I'm being too harsh?  Have you read the other story from Florida yesterday?  

Fla. mom gets 20 years for firing warning shots

Which brings me to the movie...the one we'd just seen when we were eating tacos over bad news in the wee hours of the morning.  With apologies to all who have boycotted The Lone Ranger over Johnny Depp's Tonto, I confess that's where we were last night.  There is a great scene in the film that comes to mind today...

The Lone Ranger and Tonto are running from a mob of well-meaning folk enraged over the presence of a "savage Indian" in town. As the people close in on the Lone Ranger and Tonto, the Ranger - who has just returned to his frontier hometown from law school in the city - looks over his shoulder and says, "What is wrong with these people?"  

We could talk all day long about the message there...about society's lesser-thans, mob mentality, the work of a lone ranger or two....

I know which role I want to play.  
Asking always - What is wrong with these people?


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