President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.”
This justice that President Johnson spoke of is something that has for centuries, and continues to this day, eludes Black people in this country.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Lady Justice is based on the Roman goddess of justice named Justitia, who is equipped with three symbols of justice: the double-edged sword symbolizing the court’s coercive power and the power of reason and justice, which may be wielded either for or against any party; scales representing an objective standard by which competing claims are weighed; and a blindfold indicating that justice is, or should be handed out objectively, without fear or favor, regardless of identity, money, power, or weakness.
Lady Justice is supposed to be symbolic of an America that should be blind of bias and persuasion. Lady Justice is supposed to represent an America where it shouldn’t matter what you like; what race you are; where you’re from; or whether you are rich or poor. Lady Justice is not supposed to see all of that when it comes to administering justice.
Lady Justice is supposed to be the symbol that represents justice in America, and where justice is supposed to be equal to everyone.
The problem that I, and many others have with the way Lady Justice continues to be administered in this country, is that African Americans tend not to be treated as fairly and equitably in this country as other people have – particularly White people.
If Lady Justice was truly operating in her traditional role, where she was allowed to administer justice based on her true purpose, I would venture to say that America would not have to worry about hearing the same arguments, complaints and concerns that consistently come from African Americans all across this country – every day.
If you really take a moment, step back and look at things holistically, you would see the way Black people are racially profiled, indicted, arrested and jailed for a myriad of issues that many White people get to walk away from, scot-free, after having done many of the same things; if not worse.
Take Ethan Couch for example – the now-18-year-old rich White kid, who in 2013 went on trial for killing four people 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.
What bothered so many people, including me, was the fact that Texas Judge Jean Boyd, who has since retired, refused to send this young thug to prison after he admitted to committing all these crimes.
Instead, Judge Boyd chose to give this rich, White criminal only 10 years of probation, based off of a lame psychological defense strategy that Couch suffered from “Affluenza” – a condition in which a psychologist for the defense testified made Couch unable to distinguish right from wrong, nor understand the consequences of his actions, due to his privileged upbringing and because of his wealth.
Affluenza is not even recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as an official diagnosis, yet this is what Judge Boyd used as her reasoning for simply giving him probation.
Not only did the judge give Couch no prison time and only 10 years of probation, she also ordered him to be sent to a nearly $500,000 a year rehab facility for the rich, in order for himto “get better” and learn from his mistakes.
So, how has this punishment worked for the “affluenza” stricken teenager?
Couch has been placed on the most wanted list, and federal and local agencies have been on a manhunt for him, after he missed his appointment and his parole officer wasn’t able to reach him. When officials went to the house where he was allegedly staying with his mother, Tanya, they found the place empty. Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson has since said that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Couch and his mother had fled the country.
What I find even more disturbing by this is what the sheriff went on to say. The sheriff went on to say, “I wasn’t surprised at all that he ran,” and added that he had been “expecting something like this.” If you had been expecting something like this, why weren’t you watching him closer?
Earlier this month, a brief video emerged on Twitter of some young men playing a game of beer pong. The person who posted the video claimed Couch, who cannot drink or use drugs and drive as part of his probation, was in the video and was violating his court terms. Couch met with his probation officer around the time the video came out, but didn’t come back after that, according to reports.
This dude, Couch, was a spoiled, rich White kid who got away with murder and felt untouchable because of White privilege. The families of those murder victims did not receive justice at all; instead Couch got away with murder and now he and his mother are on the run. Their White privilege couldn’t even allow Couch to humble himself and honor the terms of the probation he was sentenced to by Judge Boyd, who is just as guilty in my mind as Couch, because she allowed him to escape accountability for his actions. On top of that, we now see Couch’s mother continuing to serve as his enabler, and teaching him that being rich and White in America is a “privilege” that allows him to do just about anything he wants to do, even murder, without any consequences or accountability.
Now ask yourself, can Black people go to court and claim they are suffering from “Brokenza,” in order to explain why they committed any criminal act? Can Black people provide any excuse or reason to avoid being thrown in jail, for God knows how many years, like the lame defense strategy that Couch’s attorney used and the judge bought?
You know the answer to that………..Hell no we can’t!
Unfortunately, Black people have historically and statistically been on the receiving end of a brand of justice that isn’t blind at all; that is as it relates to the color of our skin and our socio-economic status.
Even when Black folks commit criminal acts, we should be treated equally at every stage of the criminal justice system. The justice system is currently and has historically been set up for us to fail and fall victim to it. We must wake up and get involved in helping reverse the trend of injustice and putting the right people in place to do what’s in the best interest of Black people.
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey 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 firstname.lastname@example.org