“And what I say to you, I say to you all: Keep awake.” –Mark 13: 37
Sometimes I think the real issue is just that not everyone has heard the stories I have heard about what is going on out there, and what life looks like for certain people…and how disproportionately and unfairly crime and punishment is dealt out in our country.
Journalist Matt Taibbi has a powerful and heartbreaking book out called The Divide, in which he examines the huge gap between how we punish people who are responsible for systemic crimes that have effected almost everyone (the Wall Street criminals who are responsible for the Economic Crisis of 2008, which is an event that ruined the lives of honest citizens around the world) and how we punish many other honest citizens who have not actually committed crimes at all…they just look “suspicious.” If you just read chapter 3 of his book, that would be enough to enrage you. But in case you don’t have time/desire to do that, watch the video below for a brief summary of that chapter from the author:
Especially in light of the news today about Eric Garner, yet another black man killed by a white police officer. This time, just to be clear, his death was brought about by a headlock, a move that Police Procedure EXPLICITLY bans! What was the man doing that deserved such unlawful force? Selling loosies (loose cigarettes). Will the police officer face a trial in which he is held accountable for his illegal police procedure that lead to the death of a man who was, at worst, a suspect in a misdemeanor offense? No. Once again, the answer is no, we will not hold this person of power and privilege responsible for a death that he was directly responsible for. Especially in light of that news…people need to hear these stories. Stories of crimes that go unpunished, and people who are punished for no justifiable reason at all.
As Taibbi tells the story over and over again in his book: People who are not rich and/or white are punished more often, more severely, and for far less wrong-doing than their rich and/or white counterparts. As long as we continue to hear the familiar refrain:
We have a system that works, so there’s no need to challenge it.
we will continue to tell this tragic story over and over: crimes are committed every day, and the criminals who are most successful and most damaging to our society are never punished for their crimes. So we punish innocent lives in their stead.