Tinderbox

Have you ever felt like a pot about to boil over, like milk or Farina simmering in a pot that suddenly expands exponentially before you’ve had a chance to turn off the flame? 

I feel that now. 

In my home. 

In my community. 

In the air. 

There are societal whirlwinds brewing, and they are too close for comfort. 

Black people in America have suffered under unfair and unequal enforcement of the law since they were first kidnapped and brought here. From slavery to black codes, racial profiling, and the war on drugs, I have seen first hand how differently people of color are treated by both the judicial system overall and by some police. I say some police because when people speak in absolutes, it’s very rarely accurate and the importance of the message often gets lost. Truth be told, I have seen far more unfairness than fairness for people of color when dealing with law enforcement. I, on the other hand, as a white woman in America, am afforded the presumption of innocence, the benefit of the doubt, and frequently the beneficiary of grace. 

Over the last two weeks, however, the injustices have burst through my front door and into my living room.  The Botham Shem Jean case has riveted my entire family and me. You used to be able to feel reasonably safe in the comfort of your own home if you were a law-abiding citizen, didn’t associate with people who engaged in illegal activity and resided in a relatively safe neighborhood. No longer. 

In fact, if you happen to be black and the person breaking, entering, and murdering you in your home happens to be blue, you can expect to be smeared and your case to be thwarted by a system that protects blue at any cost – even at the expense of justice. 

The handling of the Botham Jean murder case is another brick in the wall of the ratcheted-up the white supremacist movement which has rallied in the last two years. This is more than just another BBQ Becky incident where white people call the police on black people for no reason. This isn’t a black person problem. This is an EVERY PERSON problem. This is an enormous blow to undermine our very democracy. It is also not the only one. 

Botham Jean’s murder and the sanctioned cover-up that seems to be taking place before our very eyes is a precedent. Precedents can be used against white people too. It reminds me of a line from the movie, A Time To Kill. Mathew McConaughey is a lawyer seeking justice for a little black girl who had been raped and left for dead. He tells his all-white jury to close their eyes and imagine as he details the facts of the case for them. Their hearts remain unmoved until his very last sentence, “Now imagine she’s white.”   This is one of those moments. Imagine Botham Shem Jean was white. How would you feel about the sanctity of a white man’s home being invaded while he sat watching football, eating cereal, and texting his girlfriend – snatched away as he is murdered in his living room? That whole “It was an accident – an honest mistake” defense doesn’t seem too reasonable now. 

At the very same time in America, women of ALL colors are being confronted with the outrageous truth that their voices don’t matter. When it comes to sexual abuse, the highest court of the land could soon be home to a potential abuser who has belligerently opposed an FBI investigation, disgustingly attacked a female senator when questioned, and whose complete record has been largely redacted and kept secret from the very people who are supposed to determine his fitness. If I were wrongfully accused of something, and I have been, I would beg for investigation. I would revel in the inquiry because I would know it would clear my name.  We have now the very real possibility that both the current president AND lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court could be sexual abusers. 

Watching an interview of a woman and her two teenage daughters from Montana discussing how the whole “groping thing” wasn’t a “big deal,” I was horrified. I have daughters, there is NO WAY I would tell them that ANYONE has the right to touch them without their consent. The very thought is abhorrent, and the idea that a mother condones this seems more like child abuse than good parenting. The woman reasoned that Kavanaugh was a good pick anyway because of his anti-abortion stance. The insanity of that astounds me. If you do not care about people in front of you, how can you claim to care about the unborn? I have always been pro-life. At the same time; I am ABSOLUTELY NOT PRO SEXUAL ABUSE.  The idea that we must excuse mistreatment of women to procure a pro-life judge is unfathomable! 

The idea that sexual assault against women is not just accepted but condoned in our society is a threat to democracy.

AND…

The idea that people of color can be killed in their living rooms without proper investigation is a threat to democracy.

Remember that what happens to one people group can very easily happen to another once the precedent is set – just ask Hitler.

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