The other day I read the story of George Stinney Jr. on Facebook.
For those that don’t know, Stinney was executed via electric chair at just 14 years old. His crime? He was accused of killing two white girls in South Carolina, Betty June Binnicker (age 11) and Mary Emma Thames (8). This alleged crime took place in 1944. In 2014, Judge Carmella Mullen overturned the 70 year old conviction of Stinney stating, “I can think of no greater injustice than the violation of one’s Constitutional rights which has been proven to me in this case.”
It’s. About. Time.
Fourteen year old Emmett Till was brutally murdered beyond recognition in Money, MS in 1955. Why? He was accused of wolf whistling and sexually harassing Carolyn Bryant Donham, a white woman in the south. Till’s murder is one of the worst cases of injustice in the American judicial system. Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were charged and subsequently acquitted of murder only to admit to killing Till in an interview with Look Magazine days later. Almost 60 years later, Carolyn Bryant Donham confessed that her claims of what happened in the store were false. She stated, “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”
It’s. About. Time.
I’m sitting here reading through this information, and it’s hard not to be mad at what happened. It’s tough not to take it personally, or place myself in their shoes. It’s 2018, you say? Well, that really doesn’t matter. We can substitute Trayvon Martin for Emmett Till. Murdered by assailants who were ultimately acquitted. Trayvon’s case occurred in 2014. Switch out Stinney for any number of black men killed by the police within the last five years. Systems evolve with their original intent unless we change them.
There is so much to unpack in both of these cases. One thing is clear. The justice system is not for black people.
From the inception of the American justice system until now, black people have gotten a raw deal on a consistent basis. Whether it’s mass incarceration, the war on drugs, wrongful convictions, or being killed in the street by police (yes, it’s almost always deemed a good shoot), black people are intertwined in a system that was never for their benefit in the first place.
Sadly, most black people have known this for a long time. Thus, we are taught how to succeed in spite of adverse circumstances. We are taught to recognize injustice and how to move in the face of it. We are still waiting on others to catch on to this knowledge.
That’s just every day life, and it needs to change.