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Friday, November 07, 2014

Walking in other people's shoes

sketch a day #16 -30 min
I read a couple of stories today that I found terribly disappointing. 

 First, a young man of 16 years was accused by someone he had never met of stealing the person's backpack.  He was arrested and placed in Rikers Island because his family could not come up with $10,000 bail. He stayed there for 3 years without a trial.  He attempted suicide several times but was unsuccessful, and received beatings from the guards for his attempts.  Soon before being released he was brought before a judge who told him if he pled guilty, he could go home with time served.  He refused. He was not going to take the rap for something he had not done.  Soon after all charges were mysteriously dropped.  He is suing.  I hope he wins. 

I don't know what the young man's personality was.  I don't know what his track record was. I don't know anything about him except what I have seen on TV.  He is 21, meek, mild, and broken.

Personally, as a parent, I would have found the bail money somewhere, but I don't live in the Bronx, and I don't know the position of his parents. So while I cannot understand that he was left in jail for 3 years without a trial, I can step into his shoes long enough to believe that a young black man can and will be railroaded by the justice system and then kept in jail even though the district attorney was repeatedly "not ready" to try him.  Stuff like this makes me worry about my own children.

A parent laments on how he thought he did everything right with his kids. Raised them in as an elite environment as he could afford. Taught him diction and rules for a black man behaving in a not so black society.  The kid excelled and was doing fine.  All of that was broken with one word, heard at the age 16 while studying at an elite summer program. "Nigger." He realized that all the hard work he had done would not protect his kids from prejudice and injustice. I made this same realization a couple years ago when young black men started getting shot because someone was "afraid of them".  Not because of what they did, but of what someone thought they might do. These are my shoes. I pray someone will try to step into them and see things from my perspective.  My son is HUGE, and meek and mild. I've taught him to clear his throat when he was walking up on someone and to never surprise anyone.  To look people in the eye and speak, and to always be a gentleman. But I have this nagging fear about his safety when he is away from me.

This is difficult and this is sad.  Is this why I wear out my shoes so fast?

1 comment:

usethebrains godgiveyou said...

I heard you when you talked about Trayvon Martin and how it made you afraid for your son. (And made me think of my gentle son.) I was primed, by seeing his mother. It was so obvious she was in profound shock...You can't put on a broken mother's heart.