Reading is supposed to change your thinking, right? I recently finished “The Hate U Give” and part of the story is that some Black teens are involved in gangs that commit crimes because they have literally no other resources for support – emotional, financial, or otherwise.
I learned yesterday that last weekend, there was a robbery two towns over from where I live (and is in my church congregation boundaries). It was in the middle of the day in a pretty populated area, committed by some teens who were carrying handguns. The perpetrators were caught and arrested. I saw many comments about the “boldness” of these youth to do such a thing, and I wondered … so I looked up a media article to get more details and the photos showed two young men who are Black.
I have two thoughts that are 100% the results of reading this book:
1 – We’re a year into a pandemic in which the middle class has felt the squeeze and the wealthy have been inconvenienced and annoyed. But those in poverty have been virtually destroyed. Were those boys bold? Or just totally desperate? Has anyone bothered to find out?
2 – Two of the teens were “adults” – 18 and 19 (others were under-age), so their charges were publicly listed in the article. They were charged with fully a dozen things EACH, with bond set for $50K for one and $500K for the other. While I am not excusing crimes or saying they should not be charged, that seems obnoxiously excessive. At that young age, why are we tossing them in jail and throwing away the key? What rehabilitation services will be provided so they can be helped to lead a more productive life in the future?
The photos of the boys were NOT evil people who wanted to hurt others out of greed or just for fun. They looked frustrated and beaten and probably hungry. The juxtaposition between their treatment compared to a white man who murdered nine people in the middle of their church and the cops bought him a Burger King dinner (Dylann Roof); a white man who was caught in the act of rape but the judge lamented that he was not enjoying his usual steak dinner (Brock Turner); and a white man who committed insurrection against the United States and is now getting organic food in jail (Jacob Chansley) …
THIS is systemic racism.
I have not engaged on social media with the people who were quite eager to have these boys “punished” very harshly, and I won’t. There is no neat and tidy way to wrap up this post … but that’s what I’m thinking about today.