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September 13, 2007


To be an Afro-American, or an American black, is to
be in the situation, intolerably exaggerated, of all those who have ever found
themselves part of a civilization which they could in no wise honorably defend –
which they were compelled, indeed, endlessly to attack and condemn – and who
yet spoke out of the most passionate love, hoping to make the kingdom new, to
make it honorable and worthy of life.

Baldwin, No Name in the Street (1972)

My son asked me a question last night, as we
watched the BBC’s coverage of the Megan Williams case.  He asked me “Why”? I of course answered my
son, “because of hate.”  I’ve been
thinking about that short conversation ever since.  I agree with Baldwin, we as black people find
ourselves still in a situation “intolerably exaggerated”.  We are compelled by the truth of our lot to
hold in contempt the system of injustice at the core of American society, but
in our heart we hold hope.  Hope that
something honorable and equitable will rise from the embers of this burned down
house. However, now that the U.S.
Attorney in West Virginia has decided not to pursue the atrocities inflicted upon
Megan Williams as hate crimes, I’ve reversed roles with my son. I’m wondering
now, and the question I’ve got on my mind is “WHAT?!”


I agree that these criminal monsters need to be put
away, and the proverbial “key” to their cells be lost, but we can’t accept punishment
without responsibility. Why? Because
life events and causative
factors cannot be gleaned from observations of the immediate circumstances.  Simply put, w
e can’t let our
people be treated as less than, and not call out the evil that causes it to
happen. RACISM. Now the U.S. Attorney
would disarm us:

“As a practical matter,
sentenced to life, what else can be done?”
U.S. Attorney Charles T. Miller to the Associated

I say disarm us, because throwing these crazies
into prison without distinguishing them for what they are – RACISTS, masks the
problem.  The problem in this case was
not a violent attitude toward people by a disturbed group – the problem was not
deviant behavior (if they just wanted to get their kicks, they would have
chosen any unsuspecting young woman) – the problem is a deep rooted culture of
racism/white supremacy.  So what happens
when this case goes to court and no racial motivation gets talked about.  It gets swept away with the myriad of other violent
crimes perpetrated in this country. And
if there is one thing I know about this country it’s that its’ memory is short


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