Recently I was scrolling through Facebook, as I probably too often am, when I noticed a post my wife had shared from the Southern Poverty Law Center. It was actually an article in the New Yorker. It was this piece about the nightmare that is our corrupt bail system: POSTSCRIPT: VENIDA BROWDER By Jennifer Gonnerman .
I hope you read it, but if not, here it is in a thumb nail. A boy in New York, Kalief Browder, is accused of stealing a back pack. When he cannot raise the $3000.00 bail, he spends 3 years in Riker's Island, including over 100 days in solitary confinement, and eventually when his mother is able to get him released and due to the damage his mind suffered through this ordeal, hangs himself, destroying, not only his life, but his mother's.
This is NOW! This isn’t what might happen under Donald Trump, or any other possible bad politician. This is New York, its not better in Alabama, Texas, Florida, Mississippi or South Carolina.
This is the America, Mr. and Mrs. Progressive America that we choose to live in TODAY! This and 1100 dead Americans murdered in the streets, including unarmed children. This is OUR America, where poor kids, and especially poor black kids are under educated, poorly fed with substandard medical care and disadvantaged economic opportunities.
This is Obama's America, This will be Hillary Clinton's America, because this isn’t something a president can fix, and yes, it might be even worse under Trump, and yes, Obama has made a couple of changes that help somewhat, but as long as we treat the poor like they don’t really MATTER, especially the poor people ", especially "people of color", like they aren’t us, like they don’t really even exist on the same plane as us good mostly white folks in our nice low crime neighborhoods, their blood, and our failed future, as a society, cannot be laid at the feet of the Tea Party, or David Duke, or Donald Trump, but at the feet of us, the good and decent taxpayers, who pay for private music and art lessons, who teach our children that all men are created equal, who teach our children that we need to save the earth (even while we fly around the globe in the most carbon unfriendly methods available to us). We are the holder of social values. We are the ones who can make changes!
I am writing this before the presidential election, and in all likelihood, you are reading it afterward. I hope we have a new president named Hillary Clinton, and majority Democratic senate, so we can begin to get back to the grownup business of running a country. I cannot contemplate an America with a president named Donald Trump. But in what I see as the best case scenario, none of what happened to the Browder family changes.
Of course nothing changes for a dead boy and his forever grieving mother. Nothing changes for the America that says this is okay, that this is a price we are willing to pay to prop up a corrupt and deadly system of "justice" that is and always has been designed to protect the wealthy first and the white second and to punish the poor, and especially punish those who have the nerve to be both poor and black.
The problem, as I see it, is two-fold.
First, until we are a society that values the lives of everyone who resides within our boundaries, not just in the literal sense of that all humans have a right to be alive, which of course they do. Even though currently about 30,000 Americans lose that right every year, including over 1000 murdered by police, including over 500 American Citizens slaughtered even though they were unarmed when confronted by a murderous cop. No, the right to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" as our founders stated in 1776. Until that happens, our society is standing on a faulty foundation of empty promises and lies and the corpses of millions of wrongful deaths and murders of slaves, of Native Americans or poor people of all races.
Second, and maybe even more importantly, the current and long standing tradition of affirmative action for the rich and the white, and too often male has led to a system that excludes a large portion of our best and brightest, so while our current system means if I can live in a "nice" neighborhood (we do) , my kid gets to go the best schools (he does), I have gotten jobs, over a lifetime, based somewhat on my talent, but mostly because the old white middle class men who are making the hiring decision, look into my face and see their own (they have, all my life). So why am I concerned? This is a system designed to protect me, and my children. Why shouldn't I want to prop it up for as many generations as possible?
In short, two reasons: the global marketplace, and the globe. As a nation, we need to compete with 7 billion other people. This means we need to field the best team we can, even if it means my pretty white blond haired boy has to sit on the bench, or at least run a few more laps before he can be a starter, and because while we are in a global marketplace, where the competition is strong and getting stronger, we are also on a global cooperative that MUST find answers to huge problems like disease and climate change. We need America to lead, and to cooperate with the best and brightest around the world to build a strong economic system that benefits the workers and the investors in a sustainable way that reverses the carbon release of the past 300 years. We need to learn how to feed and clothe and employ 20 billion people while not turning the earth into a dead zone.
We can do neither if we continue to destroy boys over the alleged theft of a back pack.