A Black Mississippi Judge’s Breathtaking Speech to 3 White Murderers

Thanks to frequent reader SI for bringing this story to my attention. Please read the linked story and share your thoughts.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2015/02/12/385777366/a-black-mississippi-judges-breathtaking-speech-to-three-white-murderers

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Comments

  • Spanish Inquisitor  On February 16, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Oh, good, you got it. I was having so much difficulty getting that too you from my iPad, I didn’t think it made it.

    To think this is still happening in the 21st century. I have my opinion why, but I’ll leave it up to your readers…

    • musesofamom  On February 16, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      You have never been shy. Please share your thoughts.

      • Spanish Inquisitor  On February 16, 2015 at 10:44 pm

        OK, since you asked, here’s my take on why it seems like there is more, not less, overt racism these days. It got a little long, so I apologize in advance.

        It may be that I’m all full of hooey, and that data (science) would prove me wrong, but I was born in ‘54 and grew up in the “North” during the Civil Rights 60s, taught by nuns and parents to respect everyone, regardless of skin color. I took that to heart, and saw evidence that societal attitudes towards race were indeed changing from the mid 60s to the turn of the millennium. I can’t remember, for instance, that lynchings in the south were being tolerated at all, as they had been for hundreds of years up through and including the early 60s. Employment, education, politics, etc were all greatly expanded for blacks. So I though we had reached a turn-around point with the Civil Rights for African Americans. Maybe it was different for blacks, and maybe this white boy was deluding himself, but it just felt better. Not perfect, by any means, but better.

        Something has changed in the last 20-30 years. There is a lot more black/white strife. There seems to be a lot more animosity. There’s a polarization not just in politics, but in everything in life. People seem to be circling the wagons around who they feel comfortable with. There is a lot of fear in the air. Politicians, primarily Republicans, but some of other persuasions, are accusing people of welfare cheating, bilking the system, getting something they shouldn’t. Most of the things being said are dog whistles for “the other”, meaning people not like them, who they perceive as getting something they are not entitled to or that others are paying for. Distrust of everyone is everywhere.

        It doesn’t help that the media plays up every little conflict way out of proportion to it’s significance, and people feel they need to take sides in every conflict. Michel Brown is shot, and everyone takes a side. Either he was a thug and deserved what he got because he was going to hurt the cop (who had a gun, while he didn’t), or he was a victim of the cop’s innate racist tendencies to see threats in every shade of dark skin. That’s just one example. There seems to be one per week anymore. And the media does it either because it’s how the media makes money, by attracting eyeballs to the medium they use, or because they actually have a vested interested in polarizing people so that they don’t notice that their pockets are actually being picked by major corporations, not welfare cheats or union thugs. I think it’s the former. It’s in the interest of the moneyed folks, the 1% to polarize people so that they don’t have the time, ability or desire to question anything beyond the immediate fear they are being led to believe is valid. “Buy a gun, the bogeyman (read: drug dealer, muslin terrorist, or political liberal) is going to get you and take everything from you! Be afraid! Be very afraid!” And so we are.

        In the meantime, the conservative elements closely allied with the 1% find that a scared, uneducated, poor population is the most pliable type of population to deal with. So, cut back on funding education, weaken teachers unions, blame the teachers as money grubbers, attack the teaching of anything deemed theologically unsound. Resist all efforts to improve the financial lot of the poor and middle class, by weakening unions (again), resisting an increase in the minimum wage, cutting back benefits, reduce taxes on corporations but not individuals, cut back on revenue sharing to states and municipalities, and otherwise make sure most people can only rely on enough to get them through a day at time, leaving them with no ability to do better.

        And finally, and very importantly, knowing the best way to fight poverty, not only here but throughout the world, is to give women complete control over reproduction, these same elements make abortion difficult, if not impossible, contraception hard to access and pay for, and refuse to pay women the same amount that their male counterparts are paid, while telling them that they are second class citizens, and stick an aspirin between your knees if you don’t want a baby.

        So now we have a society that is struggling financially, with a population in which 99% of all the wealth and capital in the country is owned by 1% of the country, where the drumbeats of fear are being pounded by the likes of the NRA and FOX News, where many people don’t know how they are going to feed their family – not next year, but tomorrow – and you’ve set the stage for human nature to kick in. It’s human nature to look for scapegoats. It’s human nature to look for people who are not like us to point the finger at and extract reparations and justice. Think about how a relatively ignorant society handled the crises of the Black Death during the Middle Ages. They looked for, and found, scapegoats in the Jews and Gypsies. People who were “the Others”, not like them, who could be the only ones responsible for the unknown and at the time unknowable disease. And the mobs dragged them out of their homes and made examples of them, much like those three white guys did to that black man.

        Extrapolate forward. We have a relatively ignorant population who keep voting for a political party against their own best interests, who are trying to understand why they are out of a job, or working at Walmart while collecting food stamps, or who live in an area where gun shots are common because of the crime (crime brought on by the poverty in the area), and who are afraid they might not live through the night, or people who have a college education, but no job and $100,000 of student debt. What do they do in response to their plight? They lash out at “the Others”. Who are they? Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims. And overt racism increases. Spurred on by a Supreme Court that undercuts the Voting Rights Act by declaring essentially, that racism is dead. Spurred on by state legislatures that make voting difficult for minorities. Spurred on by Congress that refuses to enact legislation that helps the poor and middle class, instead voting to take away their healthcare 57 times, failing to vote for any significant jobs bills, failing to undercut the fear of the others by refusing to pass sensible gun laws, (instead allowing a Wild West mentality to form throughout the country, where people are dying at the rate of over 30,000 per year,) and failing to take care of veterans who fought in the last couple of wars.

        So it does not surprise me that three white men effectively “lynched” a black man for fun. They are being pounded everyday with the message that people unlike them don’t count, and are fair game, so why would they feel any hesitance in what they did. While FOX screams “Benghazi! The Black man in the White House did it!”, people are empowered to emulate the overt racism. It doesn’t help that we are only about one generation removed from the racism of the Old South, so many are not being educated to civilized values. The same things we heard about blacks in the 50s are being said again, only in a more oblique way. Instead of “shiftless” and “lazy” they are “takers” not “makers” and “welfare queens” . Instead of “n**ger” we say “states rights”. Instead of the “ghetto”it’s called the “inner city” but we all know what they are talking about. It’s a bunch of dog whistle racism.

        So in my opinion, with the rise of Reagan and his progeny, we’ve been going backwards, on purpose, when it comes to race relations. It’s better for conservatives that way. It’s better for the rich, the 1% ,that way. Blacks just need to know their place. It’s a little more subtle, and a little more nuanced, but it’s working, and you’re going to see more of it, not less.

        Again, I’m sure there is a lot to disagree with here. Don’t disagree with individual statements, disagree with the overall concept.

        SI

  • Orange  On February 16, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    I find myself wondering what kind of speech this judge would have prepared if the killer of this man had been black. It seems like society is determining the appropriate level of outrage to feel when a black man is killed by who did the killing. Is this man’s life worth more to us because he was killed by a white person? What if he had been killed by another brother? Would we have ever heard of his name, or Michael Brown’s name, or Eric Garner’s name if they were another victim of the tragic epidemic of black on black murder?

    I guess what I am trying to say is that everyone’s life has value. The death of Mr. Anderson is no less tragic for him and his loved ones because his killers were white. I hope I’m making sense.

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