Every American citizen believes, (or wants to believe), that when it is time for their day in court, they will receive fair and equitable treatment. After all, even Jeffery Dahmer received a fair trial. However, if you are a person of color, your hopes are dashed, because some within the system see it as an opportunity to take ‘ a day off’ from the rules of justice, even the laws. You walk in hopeful … you walk out disappointed, and, in some cases, hurt. It seems as if people of color are not considered equal and entitled to equal protection under the law. That’s when one loses their center of gravity, because all you ever believed in turns out to be a fantasy. Even though the reality was not ever addressed to you, you still bought it, because no one ever told you that it was not intended for you.
This does not just happen in criminal court, but it happens in civil court as well. Every person in the room, comes equipped with their own personal biases and stereotypes. And, in most cases, (not all), that includes the opposing attorney and the judge. You can be right, but no one hears your words, no one reads what you have written. Your skin tone speaks for you, and you are immediately dismissed.
If you quote a statute, you are ignored, because, after all, you are not even supposed to be able to read. If you represent yourself on something as small as a landlord/tenant dispute, if the opposing party is represented by an attorney, then a possible friendship or ‘professional loyalty‘ comes into play, and your standing is immediately diminished. Indeed, there are fair judges within a county, but they are few and far between. And, one does breathe a sigh of relief when one encounters that rare, fair and unbiased judge. And that old saying about the person who represents themselves has a fool for a client is one which may have been created to keep attorneys with their jobs.
Many may not remember the Eddie Murphy skit about how things are different between the majority and minorities. Sure it was over-the-top comedy, but in some ways, in the American judicial system, it seems to ring very true.
But you stand there anyway, presenting your case, hoping that your words are at least heard and understood. You don’t give up, you present your evidence, only to soon learn that ‘your’ evidence does not matter. You may as well have presented a ‘kite’, because essentially, at the end, you feel that what was figuratively said to you was to “go fly a kite” . Once away from the court, you can not help but feel violated, cheated and hurt. It is as if someone picked you up and shook you like a rag doll.
But what can be done? One thing that can be done is to vote. Read up on the reviews of a judge and vote judges with poor reviews out of that position. So many people just vote ‘yes’ on all of the judges, and that is a mistake. Take the time to research. Your vote counts and it is important that you exercise your personal responsibility to be a well-informed voter.
On paper, the American justice system is the best in the world. And every single American is entitled to access to the fair and unbiased system which is not only on paper, but in the hearts and minds of all Americans. It is instilled in our minds practically as soon as we can read and understand. It’s literally a promise. So, it is we, the American people, who have to hold that system to its word.
It should be the goal of everyone in this country to make certain that justice never, ever takes a holiday. It is not just people of color who suffer as a result, it’s America.