For Trayvon Martin & The Unspoken Adolescents of Colorby Mfundi Rasayon, PhD on 07/17/13
Thespians In The Façade of Justice
First of all, you will need at least 10 to 15 minutes to read this. That is, if you intend to join me on a journey to examine the Actors & Magicians outside of Hollywood? Although, they are an unpopular class of "Thespians," who put on their own 'makeup', there is something "mind altering" - about Live-Theatre, 'Box-Office' cinema rarely accomplishes. It is my hope, that the forthcoming paragraphs will help you to gain - a better understanding of a topic, that many Americans pretend really isn't a PROBLEM.
It’s nothing new, mostly because, “Justice” is usually what money can buy; who you know or how astute attorney’s are at putting their spin on Juror’s perceptions -- of the actual facts. I am a Behavioral Neuroscientist, with a Masters in Clinical Psychology. I received a Doctoral degree in (Neuropsychology/Psycho-biology). So, I do know a litttle about human behavior. More importantly, I am a parent, who sprang from a pool of the darkest shades of melanin, with X & Y chromosomes to announce my identity - what? ~~~ I am a Black man . . .
Ordinarily, my background would be referenced elsewhere, Yet, the contentiousness & volatility attached to the subject matter merits a synopsis about who is pushing the envelop. I mention this because, we reside in a “society” that conditions us to dismiss a person’s perspective, if they lack what Amerikan’s refer to as a pertinent education or level of expertise. I also have the distinct honor & privilege to be a Board Certified Fellow & Diplomate in African Centered (Black) Psychology.
All conscious, Black parents know, that the universal police cliche' "to Protect & Serve" becomes a different saying, for Afrikan-Amerikan youth, boys in particular! The unspoken mantra becomes, to 'Avoid & Observe'. Without J.D. (Esq. /esquire) behind your name or any other letters, you can easily recall the outcome of the trial involving Rodney King, after viewing video footage from 1991 of LAPD officers brutalizing him to the fringes of death, all of which was caught on camera. And, somehow, what everyone observed, with his or her own eyes of the unedited footage was dissected, frame by frame, to excuse the barbaric behavior as within the limits of the “LAW.” The officers were acquitted in the spring of 1992.
Years later, there was a case in New York City. Amadou Diallo was riddled with bullets. He was described, as 'resembling or he favored a serial rapist.' On the 4th of February 1999, he was shot 19 times during a volley of 41 bullets. An NYPD officer said, "he mistook his wallet for a gun." A fellow officer had also stumbled, and they subsequently concluded, that he may have been shot by Diallo to justify the unrelenting gunfire. The state was later sued for 'Wrongful Death & Racial Profiling." There are far too many incidents to cite to point out how "dark skinned" males seem to amp up the paranoia of Caucasian men.
Clearly, these psychopaths, yes - psychopaths, are following an unspoken script, endorsed by a society that selects characters to play specific roles. If it has crossed your mind, what makes them psychopaths? Their blatant disregard for the law, lack of remorse, and denial of a crime in the presence of irrefutable evidence. Hence, the title, Thespians In The Façade Of Justice, is being shared to offer some perspective on the outcome and the acquittal of the murderer of 17-year-old (& 21 days) Trayvon Martin. Reportedly, the killer later requested, that he wanted his gun back, because he is even more afraid now. His attorneys' agreed, that they think his life is in greater jeopardy.
In the event, you are perplexed about this unfolding reference; the only reason, I am citing the OJ Simpson Trial, is to highlight the NEED for major financial resources to assure one can be “Lawyered–Up,” in order to showcase what it takes to have the actual evidence presented. Although, little comparison can be made, when it comes to the blatant systematic disregard to afford “Justice” for Afrikan-American males in the 21st century, money can buy attorneys, who are very familiar with how to influence jurors. Regardless, of the state's prosecution team being "out-lawyered," the travesty of allowing a killer of an unarmed teenager to be released with the blessings and sympathy of the court beckons memories of lynching (Coloreds) Blacks, before WWII, when the Ku Klux Klan ruled the south.
After stalking this kid for blocks at night in the rain, by car/truck/SUV (unsure of vehicle type), and finally on foot, with a loaded 9mm at his rear buttocks over his hip, and a confrontation, which escalated into a skirmish that took this youngster's life, the Defense Attorneys' managed - to type cast the victim, as the assailant. ~~ Remain mindful, that NOT ONE TIME, did this self appointed policeman identify himself. More importantly, he remained FREE for well over a month, after the shooting. ~~~ Actions of paranoid ‘White-folk’ have gone run amok in Amerika. Today, courts have become theatres for “Thespians” to parade around on center stage, working their magic with theatrics that would mesmerize viewers of Cirque Du Soleil finest shows. Why, because they juggle and toy with life & death decisions right before our eyes.
From the scene of a crime to the Halls of “Justice,” even when Afrikan-American males are the obvious victims, “justice” sways on the elusive scales of truth from the hospitals to the morgues. The scenarios malign & marginalize their worth, from the “womb to the tomb,” that darker skin – makes them, a bad seed - destined to wreck havoc on civilization. ~~ I submit to you, “Justice” wears very dark, tinted flip-up sunglasses, and she has removed the ‘blindfold’ that insures blind-justice. Beneath that robe - specifically, for Black, Red & Brown folks, I suspect a hidden dagger tucked away, at her waist, to shred the truth behind closed doors. ~~ These iconic statues holding the "scales-of-Justice" are merely bastardized versions of the Goddess of MA’AT - taken from ancient Egypt/Kemet. Originally, native to North Afrika – before the Greeks & Romans, and contemporary European scholars renamed this region - The Middle East. MA’AT symbolized that your heart should be as light as a feather to balance the scales of truth. (The abbreviated meaning.)
Clearly, a layperson can discern what happens in court without having degrees to punctuate their name, but will they be heard or get any publicity? Typically, ‘news stories’ that lead, have drama to showcase tragedy. That is why we have “Thespians-At-Law,” who are very adamant during the vetting of potential Jurors. This is done to screen out Jurors, whom grilling attorneys doubt their ability to modify their perceptions.
I encourage you to read further in other sources, rather than embrace what I am clearly stating. In short, knowledge & exposure play a major role in how we respond to what is put before us. The majority of us are too uncomfortable to admit this. Even when the facts, definitively suggest that, those of us socialized in Amerika are “herd-thinkers,” if in fact, that can be considered as thinking? Mind you, I am not referring to you -- the current reader.
These views refer to the group or any cohort, who share similar demographics. Most of our perceptions are derived from socialization & common beliefs. However, they are anchored in the media, and to a degree, in select neighborhoods of cyberspace. So, people have a tendency to believe what they hear frequently or are constantly exposed to, particularly, if such views are repetitive, neatly packaged or spouted from the mouths of those viewed as objective, and more importantly, highly credentialed in the eyes of mainstream Americans. A great number of whom swallow their prejudices, as they slowly sip the intoxicating liquors of jargon extracted from “professional witnesses” -- they vicariously identify with, who invariably -- often have Caucasian phenotypes or unquestionable traits common among the well assimilated to traditional “American” values or mannerisms.
By now, we should know, that “Justice” has very little to do with the actual evidence. In fact, in the U.S., it is more a function of modifying one’s perceptions into apperceptions. In simple terms, the morpheme or prefix (“ap”) modifies the meaning of the word to indicate that the context or history of the word (stimulus, image, action/event) has taken on new meaning to the perceiver. Usually, this is based upon the context of exposure or beliefs attached to the word and/or image(s), which shift a perception into an apperception. For example, had I introduced this brief commentary/discourse in a vernacular peculiar to specific ethnic groups or ‘street-talk’ peppered with the lexicon of Ebonics, Creole or Patois, I as the writer would have been judged and classified. The same would unfold, had I introduced these views with language threads common among the Irish in Belfast or working class Londoners who speak Cockney, stereotyped to be connected with Whitechapel in East London, a region attached to the ‘Jack the Ripper’ murders. The point is - a person’s “accepted” background, trumps the validity of information content, even in the arena where one seeks “Justice.”
The Courtroom becomes a stage, and the witness stand becomes center stage – with the “spotlight” trained on the witness for microscopic scrutiny of every nuance of one’s biometrics; on the canvas attorneys’ orchestrate Jurors or the public to focus on. The character of your person becomes a tool to morph evidence into whatever a skilled attorney (Thespian or Magician) puts before you. Even the judge is compelled to follow the ‘script’.
Think of those classic iconic Greek masks of ‘Comedy & Tragedy’ or Happiness & Sadness (originally African masks of archetypes). For the sake of fair argument, today’s Judicial System really does have laudable intentions in pursuit of Justice. However, REALITY strongly suggests otherwise. On your on; simply do a cursory survey of who among the socioeconomic spectrum disproportionately fills the dockets of courtrooms in America. Briefly examine the income bracket, gender and ethnic groups, while cross-referencing convictions with sentencing? I recommend that avenue rather than sharing my biased interpretations, because each of us recalls unique life experiences.
Travesties of “Justice” are nothing new to working class people. In fact, they are part of the daily reality endured by melanin dominant humans throughout the Americas. For example, these three tragedies are highlighted to illustrate the pathology supported by Amerikan “Justice.” In May of 2012, a 13 year old Black kid, Darius Simmons was shot to death after taking out the trash in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The shooting was captured on the gun owner’s personal surveillance camera. It is blatant and premeditated, as you watch this elderly “Whiteman” go back into his house to retrieve a gun with no visible signs of stress or immediate provocation. Jordan Russell Davis, another 17 year old killed in Jacksonville, Florida at the hands of a paranoid Caucasian male with a powerful handgun on the 23rd of November 2012. The murderer alleged that their music was too loud and they appeared to have a shotgun in their SUV, following an exchange of words; alleged to be filled with expletives. ~~~ This young man is equally invisible. He only showed up as a blip or glitch on the radar of the Amerikan media. The murdered teen, Kendrick Johnson (aka KJ), who was found in a rolled up wrestling mat - upside down in Lowndes High School (old gym), in Valdosta Georgia 11 January of 2013. This 17 year-old Afrikan-american teenager, who was compared to the infamous Emmett Till with respect to the condition of his vessel (body) after examining photos, continues to be a mystery. In fact, county local authorities claimed, ‘he fell inside of the rolled up mat and expired, because he was unable to free himself while trying to retrieve a shoe.’
Hopefully, people of color will aggressively seize the time with action plans. Or will we wait to take a PROACTIVE approach based on pastoral care Professor Gregory Ellison’s book, “Cut Dead But Still Alive” in efforts to explore the redemption of a few troubled Souls, as they attempt to navigate the crucible - in search of the “American Dream?” As a people and a Nation, have we become so delusional, that we believe Amerika cares anything about our male teenagers – other than their ability to make money for corporate professional franchises, as athletes or entertainers?
Chances are likely, that in the vast theatre of life, on this “Amerikan-stage,” scripts are written and certain people are cast to fit roles prepared by quasi-invisible Directors. Shadow Directors, who skillfully undermine access to meaningful education, & socio-architectural engineers who draft policies, designed to funnel our youth along coercive paths that lead to incarceration. All of which, comes back to haunt people of color in Hollywood, as exploitative films of urban youth. And, when those “movies” are aired for the American people and the world to watch, the viewers are anxious to see what the trailers & sound-bytes have advertised to take you on a roller coaster of emotions fueled by stereotypes, and personal prejudices. Finally, when the box office reviews share the net profit index, 95% of those royalties never reach the communities or people exploited.
Scenarios of drama and Director's "creative-rights" pulse waves of emotions that crescendo with surges of adrenaline and endorphins, only rivaled by passionate sex to fuel our escape from reality. Invariably, such experiences leave one in deep Theta, a state akin to a trance or a toddler falling asleep to a lullaby, as the human body & mind submits to a cascade of personal reflections. Only to awaken to another day, as we attempt to fathom that Thespians and Magicians have become tools to distract us from "Justice."
In closing, may I candidly suggest, that in order to safeguard the future of young males of color, that “Black” fathers become the helmsman, to navigate the fleet of urban community ships, through the turbulent ocean currents of piranha & shark infested waters of mined laden tsunami waves of institutional RACISM! This WE MUST DO, rather than wait for mainstream society - to give us permission, to have an academic staged directed conversation or Town-Hall meeting -- dialogue or “community-talk” - about Ryan Coogler’s film, Fruitvale Station, which encapsulates the last 24 hours of Oscar Grant’s life New Year’s Day in 2009. And, at that well thought out time, when "that day" comes to an end, after observing those prescreened scholars, from mainstream Amerika ~ intellectualizing about the plight of our children, in a Nation or world – that could truly give a DAMN, ~~ "business will go on as usual" ...
Note: I have intentionally omitted the names of the arrested shooters and those who may have maligned and or played a major role in misrepresenting the Soul’s of these children. Therefore, I will not provide an audience for these psychopaths in this commentary by evoking their names. FYI: My hiatus from adding to this “blog” be-speaks how busy I have been. However, these events are too critical to leave to others. So, I chose to share “my two-cents worth.” Addendum: Final editing was done after original post within 24 hours.