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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Justice and Race in America - Why are People like Rev. Wright Mad?

If you want to understand someone, there is a saying that "you have to walk a mile in their shoes." To understand why people like Rev. Wright is blasting away at America from the pulpit, just look at yesterday's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court and ask yourself "How can this be happening in the 21st century in America?"

The U.S. currently has more people in prison than China or Russia. Most are minorities and about half are in prison for non-violent offenses. If you are black and are caught with a small amount of drugs, you are in the slammer for years. If you are Rush Limbaugh and are caught with illegal quantities of Oxycontin, you still have a radio show making millions per year. Is this fair?

On the 5th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the death penalty for a black man who killed his wife's lover in
an emotional rage. In Texas, a "heat of passion killing" like this is still considered to be a lesser homicide by the law -- and by people. It's not
something anyone would get the death penalty for.

The U.S. Supreme Court was bothered by the Louisiana prosecutor deliberately cutting blacks from the jury. The same thing has been an admitted practice by a
Houston Assistant District Attorney, Ms. Seigler, who is running to replace Houston's last DA (who happened to be fond of racist and sexist jokes). She even cut people from juries for going to the "wrong" church (i.e., Lakewood).

So it was an all white jury who gave the black defendant the death penalty. Our highest court threw that out in a 7-2 vote. All this comes on the heels of
many people wondering how Rev. Wright could be mad at the United States and its racially-biased justice system?

If you were being denied a jury of your peers wouldn't YOU be mad as h___ and "not going to take it anymore!?" We aren't talking about wrongs committed decades ago by our ancestors. We are talking about racist actions happening TODAY that treat blacks much harsher than whites.

This death case, and the recent conduct of Houston's chief prosecutor, should make it clear to Americans that blacks are paying the ultimate price for racist
attitudes. Those attitudes have affected Hispanics and women as well.

Injustice based on color is STILL happening, every day. How many white defendants are convicted without fellow whites included in the jury? How many whites would think it was fair to be given the death penalty for a heat of passion crime with a jury that had zero whites on it?

America, we do have a problem with racism, I'm sorry to say. We can't condemn people who are the victims of that racism for getting angry about it. If such racism was killing your friends and neighbors, I think you would feel even more angry than the outrage we heard from Rev. Wright.

Until we fix our justice system --and people change their attitudes -- we cannot condemn a candidate for what his preacher says; if you do, then you also have to be fair and blame John McCain for his "minister's problem."

And you can't blame any preacher for being angry at such gross injustice in places like Louisiana and across the United States that this Supreme Court case
has exposed to the light of day. If you were walking in the shoes of those condemned, would you?

Under our Constitution we are all created equal. We need to start acting like it so we really can move beyond race.

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