The Harsh Reality of Injustice

North America is believed to be a progressive, safe, and solely a first world continent. However, the harsh reality is that we live in a flawed society that promotes cruel and unjust treatment called oppression and inequality. Justice is defined as being “just behaviour and treatment” (Root Autlette and Winttner, 70). As a society it is important to whether our system of justice follows that definition. It is evident through the many cases of violence against incarcerated people of colour, police brutality, and unjust convictions that the judicial system is being used as a tool to drive racial injustice. With all of the evidence and examples of this injustice, it is clear that North America’s judicial system is not following the true definition of justice. There have been some cases where legal institutions being used to legitimize racism and allow race-based judicial injustices to occur. Martese Johnson was no exception to this injustice, state officials used excessive force and brutalized him when he attempted to get into a bar with a fake ID. Alcoholic Beverage Control agents describe Johnson as aggressive and belligerent, however, an eyewitness explained that Johnson was not being aggressive and that the agents were using unnecessary force. Why is it that Johnson was considered to be aggressive and belligerent? Would the agents regard Johnson the same way if he were white or of a different race? There are societal restrictions placed on certain words that make it no longer socially acceptable to openly and blatantly discriminate individuals based on their race however, this does not mean racism does not exist or occur through actions. When an individual commits a crime automatically people will make assumptions and stereotype an individual, this person will face intense discrimination in social situations. Due to the overrepresentation of people of colour in jail there is a perpetuating prejudice that individuals of colour are more likely to be criminals, violent, and aggressive. This case can be related to how people of colour are perceived and the respectability politics they must conform to. Respectability politics is when marginalized groups attempt to police their own members to conform to mainstream values rather than challenge mainstream groups to accept their differences (Root Autlette and Winttner, 86). In order for people of colour to not be seen through a violent lens, an assumption created by dominant groups, they must conform to white supremacy and white culture (Root Autlette and Winttner, 85). White supremacy is the belief that white people are superior to other races. By making the decision to not conform to the guidelines that respectability politics set up, people of colour have a higher chance of receiving injustice.

The justice system failing to promote equality and police abusing their power is a serious issue that has been addressed yet has not been eliminated or resolved. Five times as many white individuals are using drugs as black individuals, yet black individuals are sent to prison for drug offenses at ten times the rate of white individuals (NAACP). This further proves that anti-blackness, the resistance of valuing black individuals is perpetuated through the judicial system through the high rates of incarnation and police attention. Within the past year alone there have been cases of police brutality that were popular in the media such as the Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and of course Martese Johnson. All of which I will provide links for articles below. All of these cases mentioned involved mistreatment of power towards people of colour that ended in death or hospitalization. The crimes committed by the officers were wrongfully dealt with by our justice system, as they didn’t face punishment. It is both shocking and disappointing that in this day and age we are have to fight for equal treatment and justice. What if the roles were reverse and the brutality was towards a white individual and a police officer of colour, would the judicial results be the same?

When analyzing intersecting features of injustice it is clear that there are connections between both race and gender. Statistics show that men of colour are far more likely to be arrested than women. Of the 2.3 million inmates in custody in the United States, 208,300 were women and 2.1 million were men. Black males and Hispanic represented 58% as of 2008, which is the largest percentage of inmates (NAACP). These numbers represent a disappointing flaw within our society. It is important to learn these statistics and question why there is such a significant difference between each race and gender and what we can do to change that. There must exist also a community-wide aspiration to understand and own the values of justice, inclusion, and equity, and how it is that our mutuality calls us to help forge new thinking. Creating an accepting society and eradicating all acts of intersectionality the connectedness of social categorizations of race and gender, white supremacy, oppression, and the many other problematic notions will achieve a safe inclusive place for everyone.

We are all playing key roles in leading our society to change. It is not about agreeing on everything, sharing the same views, or having the same background, it is about sharing acknowledgement, appreciation, and respect for each other. It is important to fight for each other’s equality and to end injustice for all races. Getting involved within your community and unifying for change will create a difference and help make safer and happier lives for everyone. It is time that discrimination within homes, institutions, the justice system, and governance is put to an end. By doing so, we can prevent any more individuals from suffering as Martese Johnson had.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31965856

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/11/25/the_shooting_of_michael_brown_three_versions_of_how_it_unfolded.html

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2014/dec/04/i-cant-breathe-eric-garner-chokehold-death-video

Works Cited

 Aulette, Judy R., and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. Third ed. New York: Oxford    Universty Press, 2015. Print

Criminal Justice Fact Sheet.” National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People. Web. Accessed 28 Mar. 2015. (http://www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet)

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “The Harsh Reality of Injustice

  1. rau

    Hi mac2121,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post!
    I am very surprised at the statistic you stated about drug use; “Five times as many white individuals are using drugs as black individuals, yet black individuals are sent to prison for drug offenses at ten times the rate of white individuals”. I am aware that authority figures can often show discrimination in their convictions, however, I would also like to think that they give punishment to those who deserve it considering that is what they are hired to do.
    In your post, you asked “What if the roles were reverse and the brutality was towards a white individual and a police officer of colour, would the judicial results be the same?”. To answer your question, in my opinion there would be circumstances where the judicial results would be the same and other circumstances where it would be different. On one hand I believe that a police officer, no matter the colour of their skin, would be respected in their decisions because they are seen as authority figures who know what they are supposed to be doing in order to keep the world safe. On the other hand, I believe that unless the white male was clearly a member of a minority group, such as a low-class or homeless individual, the judicial system would take extra measures while investigating the situation and not be so quick to jump to conclusions as they would be with a member of a minority group.
    I like your perspective on what needs to be done in order for our society to change: “It is not about agreeing on everything, sharing the same views, or having the same background, it is about sharing acknowledgement, appreciation, and respect for each other”. I think this is so true. There is likely to be no group of people who agree on everything and have the same views. Society needs to learn how to accept each other and their differences if we want to achieve greater peace.
    I’m going to relate your blog post to the topic that I chose, which is the gender equality bake sale, where women had to pay 77 cents for a cookie and males had to pay a full dollar. The roles could easily be manipulated to show the racial privileges. For example, people of colour only have to pay 77 cents whereas Caucasian individuals would have to pay the full dollar. This would be an act that could raise awareness for the often invisible racial privileges that are prevalent in society, such as Martese Johnson’s case.

    Like

    Reply
  2. MJ

    Mac2121,

    This is a well-written post! In the case of Martese Johnson and so many others, there have been significant discrepancies between the official reports and the eyewitness reports. In these cases, the majority or all of the eye-witnesses describe the victim’s behaviour as non-threatening, while the authorities describe it as the opposite. I think this speaks to the injustice shown towards individuals of colour within Western societies, specifically in the United States. I was too surprised by the fact that five times as many white individuals are using drugs as individuals of colour. I think that a statistic like this is a prime example of how the media and society likes to portray black individuals; using them as scapegoats for inner city issues or the war on drugs. The question what if the roles were reversed, and the brutality was towards a white individual and a policy officer of colour is a complicated one. However, I think that under those circumstances, the outcome would be significantly different. To conclude, I was wondering what you think would happen if those roles were reversed?

    Like

    Reply
  3. Ash

    Excellent post, Mac2121! I totally agree with your definition of a just society and how we do not live in one despite Western societies being revered for its progressiveness and equality. We see this is the prevalence of media reports surrounding police brutality against black bodies. This expression of anti-blackness is especially alarming when confronted with the statistics. 58% is a huge portion of the prison population and the fact that they are black and Hispanic males says something about our judicial system. This is especially problematic because five times the amount of white individuals are commit drug-related felonies, yet black individuals are incarcerated ten times more. This clearly demonstrates the power imbalances that privilege whiteness over people of colour. Do you think this is an attempt to systematically disappear people of colour and the social injustices they face?
    I liked how you ended your article by imploring the reader to generate change and listing a few ways to go about it. Taking action and participating in cultures of resistance are the most effective ways of dismantling systems of oppression and privilege that affect those like Martese Johnson.

    Like

    Reply
  4. aba

    Hey Mac, awesome post! I really like how you touched on the fact that countries in North America may be some of the most developed countries in the world, but they still have massive social issues. This is a reality that even people living within the countries forget. Interesting question that you ask too.

    I am also thinking about a CNN news report on a girl who had been raped by two males, where the language and the descriptions used in this report clearly sympathized with the individuals who attacked the victim, and how this really reflects the way that society looks at rape culture. This is what I thought of when you asked what would happen if it were an officer of colour being violent towards a white individual. Do you think the media, especially in forms such as news reports, play a huge role in keeping racial profiling and stereotyping alive?

    Like

    Reply
  5. Jac

    Hey Mac,

    Great post! I also analyzed this article! I really like how you tie in statistical analysis into your post which illustrates how stereotyping actually contributes to the way in which institutions systematically police black bodies and portray them as violent, criminals. I also think it’s important to incorporate statistics for trans black bodies, as well as non-binary trans bodies which we know tend to experience violence at alarmingly higher rates than their cis gendered counterparts.
    I also think it’s interesting how in Canada the way we treat Aboriginal people is similar (although not to be seen as the same, since we also treat our black population in a similar way as the Americans do) in the sense that racial profiling is a big issue for the indigenous people of Canada, especially in western Canada. I remember when I was in the seventh grade we read an article on how police brutality nearly killed an Aboriginal man in Saskatoon in 1999. It was a very moving piece for me because it was my first explicit encounter with racial profiling.
    How do you think we should tackle issues of racial profiling and join in solidarity with cultures of resistance? Do you think that we should be talking about these in schools?

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s