When it comes to impacting culture and making stuff popular, Black people are extremely good at it. We are trendsetters and difference makers, especially in the world of sports, fashion, entertainment and social media.
I thoroughly enjoy checking out the way topics trend on “Black Twitter” and how we take a subject matter and make it go viral almost immediately. It is an interesting cultural phenomenon.
With that being said, I am going to need those who enjoy reading my writings, following me on social media and listening to me on the radio to do something that I hope catches on and spreads like wildfire all across this country. Of course, I call you my Real Talk Junkies (RTJs).
I really need all of my RTJs to help me make this hashtag go viral: #WhoGoingToJail?
When I look at what is going on across this country, I get sick to my stomach as I see how select individuals with money and influence get treated differently and avoid going to jail, in the face of overwhelming evidence, whereas the justice system is so unmerciful and discriminatory to Black people. It is sickening to say the least.
I mean, where do I begin? Geez!
Let’s start with what is going on with the poisoned water crisis in Flint that has rocked this nation. Here you have a Republican governor, Rick Snyder, who decided to remove the fresh water drinking source that the people of Flint were drinking from, Lake Huron, and substituting it with water from the toxic Flint River. Federal law requires that water systems which are sent through lead pipes must contain an additive that seals the lead into the pipe and prevents it from leaching into the water.
When someone in the state government told Governor Snyder that this anti-corrosive element needed to be added to the water coming out of the Flint River, allegedly Governor Snyder said it would cost too much and dismissed the recommendation. The cost of the anti-corrosive element was going to be only $100 a day for three months, according to experts.
When Governor Snyder finally realized how toxic the Flint River water was, he decided to keep quiet about it, purposely deceive people and cover up the extent of the damage that was being done to the residents of Flint, namely the children who were suffering from irreversible and permanent brain damage because of the lead in the water.
Now, the state government will probably end up having to pay over $1.5 billion to correct the issue, along with lawsuits and settlements from families, yet Governor Snyder has not been removed from office and he has not been arrested for his purposeful actions and cover up.
Say it with me now: #WhoGoingToJail?
Need more examples?
Okay, it has been a few months now since the graphic dashcam video of Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was released. Emails and newly released reports have indicated that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his administration were explicitly aware of the video content and tried to cover up the video for political reasons, which is a contradiction to Emanuel’s initial claims that he hadn’t seen the video until a judge ordered the city to release it, and he didn’t know police reports contradicted what was in the video until those were released publicly. Of course, we know that the family received a rushed settlement and the video was well on its way to being buried, if not for the persistence and continuous open records requests made by two journalists and an attorney.
Since the video’s release, Mayor Emanuel has apologized to the citizens of Chicago, fired his police commissioner and Officer Van Dyke has been charged with murder. Somebody went to jail, but as we have regularly seen here in America, even with video evidence, grand juries have failed to indict officers and in most cases where the officers have been charged, they get off. If it wasn’t for the video, Officer Van Dyke would have gotten off, like many other officers have.
Again, say it with me now: #WhoGoingToJail?
We can even go back to Robert Richards IV, the heir to the fortune of the infamous du Pont family, who pled guilty to the fourth-degree rape of his 3-year-old daughter and received an eight-year prison sentence in 2009. His sentence was suspended by a Delaware judge, however, who said Richards would “not fare well” in prison. Richards was placed on eight years’ probation and ordered to get treatment and register as a sex offender, the documents show. He was also prohibited from having contact with children under 16, including his own children.
Again, say it with me: #WhoGoingToJail?
Take Ethan Couch, who was given 10-years of probation by Judge Jean Boyd in 2013, after killing four people with a vehicle he was driving after stealing alcohol out of Wal-Mart and driving drunk with three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system. He also ended up paralyzing one of his friends who was riding with him.
Don’t get tired of saying it yet: #WhoGoingToJail?
Lastly, let’s take the Wall Street financial and mortgage crisis for example. Do you know how many Wall Street executives have gone to jail for playing a part in the crisis? One!
Kareem Serageldin, a senior trader at Credit Suisse, is serving a 30-month sentence for inflating the value of mortgage bonds in his trading portfolio, allowing them to appear more valuable than they really were. This is a stark contrast to the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1980s, where more than 1,000 bankers were jailed because of their role in committing white-collar crimes.
You already know the saying now: #WhoGoingToJail?
We do know who is going to jail regularly though – Black people.
Every day we see wealthy defendants, who can afford high-priced lawyers, get a slap on the wrist for the same crimes that many Black defendants receive sentences that are lengthy and incomprehensible in many cases. A young Black male doesn’t have a chance when he gets caught up in the legal system and there is no mercy for him and no chance for rehabilitation, as a substitute for jail time. When it comes to our young Black men, our current system has shown us, time and time again, that there is no fair and equitable justice for them.
I seriously want to know who is going to help me make this hashtag popular until it becomes more than just a hashtag: #WhoGoingToJail?
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and has a daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney. He is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at email@example.com