Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pursuing Justice?

In a matter of minutes, Troy Davis an inmate on death row, convicted in the 1991 killing of an off duty Savannah, Georgia police officer Mark MacPhail will be executed. The days leading up to the execution, have been fraught with campaigns championed by Congressmen and other elected officials, Nobel Prize winner, Desmond Tutu, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and other organizations. If the execution of Troy Davis is stayed, justice may not be served. Justice goes beyond the premise of innocence and guilt and granting clemency to one individual is not entirely justice.

The death or impending demise of another human should evoke some sense of empathy, however, when that human is dying because it is believed that they deserve to perish, empathy soon finds its way out of the window and the grim reaper is heralded. If Davis is executed today, it will be a victory for the family of MacPhail who have had to deal with the loss of a son, who was killed in the prime of his life; a young father at twenty seven. While the death of Davis will bring closure for one family stricken with grief, his own family will be torn by the loss of their son. Herein, there seems to be an equality of sorts because each family loses a son. The only difference is that one family was informed of the loss after it occurred and the other family has had time to ready themselves to mourn a son.

For others, the disparity is greater than timing. It is about a failed judicial system, racial inequality, and a system that thrives on subtle Jim Crow laws that we like to believe are a relic of the past. Deciding the case of Davis' innocence is almost as complex as deciphering ancient languages that have been lost. The entire case is steeped in witness testimonies that at first seemed unadulerated, then were recanted, evidence that was denied admission, positive admission by the defendant, witness testimony, and casings from the murder weapon that matched casings that were beieved to have been used in an earlier crime by the defendant.

The entire case is nothing short of a witches brew and it is only on this ground that the debate over the death penalty is justified. Capital punishment when deserving is appropriate. It might not deter, but it is the closest to justice that society is capable of devising. Besides, it is in line with the Levitical philosophy of an "eye for an eye." Hence, when heinous crimes do happen, the last thing society should do is turn the other cheek. Turning the other cheek is the antithesis of civilized society although champions of human rights might argue that the death penalty is.

Whatever side of the debate anyone chooses, one thing is clear, that Davis was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although a mere four hours away from Atlanta, the city of Savannah is a case study in poverty among African Americans. The majestic weeping willows and restored mansions on Abercorn street- with outhouses that are a reminder of the south's slave ridden past- contrast sharply with the poverty in neighborhoods only a few miles away where the sound of gun shots and periled cries are a constant. The sound of periled cries are cries that Davis is famiiar with, cries that prosecutors believe he sometimes evoked on occasion and perhaps in the murder of MacPhail. It might be argued that Davis is a victim of circumstance and so society needs to pardon him and heed his plea for a second chance.

As much as I do not want to see an innocent man suffer for a crime he did not commit, cases like this are an occasion to examine our communities. Why was Davis a high school drop out and dilatory worker in possession of an unregistered weapon? Why didn't the Davis family have access to state assistance for their disabled child, requiring Davis to drop out of high school to provide assistance for his family? Where was the male figure in the Davis family at the time of the murder?

Thus, while the evidence is controverted and there is clear proof that justice did not proceed as it should, we need to put the blame on Davis first. If Davis was known to his community as a third grade teacher and not as a derelict he would not be mentioned in this case. Davis is like countless others who make bad choices and then appeal to society when the consequeces of their action are brought to bare. Poverty surely is a crutch, but is never an excuse for irresponsibility. So, while I cannot speak on behalf of Davis' innocence because I am unsure of it, I can make the appeal that the legal system is proceeding on faulty footing and this alone should be reexamined.

Monday, September 5, 2011

35 before 35

I was sorely afraid to write this post. Not because I mind sharing some of my goals, but rather I was afraid I had lost the touch and forgotten how to write. I have not blogged in six months for several reasons and I forgot how good and quite cathartic putting ink to paper feels symbolically.

This blog post was inspired by my sister, Wally, who wrote a list of thirty things she plans to do before turning thirty. Without giving too much away, setting thirty as a goal might seem over zealous in my case, so I went with the nearest milestone age, thirty five.

I have always been good at making mental lists and checking things off once I got them done. However, a lot can be said about writing things down on paper. Mental notes are soon forgotten and there's a certain permanence that comes with the written word. I remember at the age of seventeen I scribbled the words "I owe myself a college degreee" in a journal I owned. For some reason, I feared I would not get one. I don't know why, but that nagging fear was there. Now, working on my third degree, I stumbled across that old journal and I read about the fears I had then and realized that writing out my thoughts and ending on the note that I would get a college degree helped put a lot in perspective.

So here goes some from my bucket list:

3. Graduate from Law School
5. Visit all the continents I haven't been to yet
11. Learn to swim
12. Pay for the groceries of everyone in a long line in front of me at the grocery store
15. Become a certified scuba diver
17. Run a half marathon
19. Attend every tennis grand slam tournament
20. World Cup
21. Own a boxer named Denver
22. Give back significantly to my alma mater
23. Force my parents into early retirement
25. Vacation for a whole month
27. Attend Fashion Week in New York, London, Paris, and Milan
28. Be part of the solution to alleviating global poverty
34. Learn to bake a "bad" red velvet cake
35. Learn contentment in everything

I think this is a good place to start.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Today marks the 35th anniversary of the celebration of Black History Month, also commonly referred to as African-American History Month. What began in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Month is now celebrated in February to commemorate and highlight the accomplishments of Africans in the diaspora. So, from February first until the last day in the month it will not be uncommon to see events that are directed and sponsored to help celebrate these achievements. Anyone who is tuned in to popular culture might have heard a comic or two question why the shortest calendar month was chosen. Why not January, July, October, or December? Those months have thirty-one days and do not suffer the effect of leap years they jest. While comics banter light heartedly, critics have weighed in and suggested that if black history truly is Amerian history then it need not be celebrated. To that I say it needs to be celebrated for the same reason that while Barack Obama is America's president he is Black America's president too.

This Sunday as I sat in church and watched a group of ladies dance I was moved. I was elevated because more than all art forms, dance is such a pure expression of freedom. I worship at a predominantly black church because I prefer the culture of the black church. So, for almost five minutes, I watched the women move gracefully, many of them in their late fifties and sixties. I desired that I would have such agility in my old age, but more than that the fluidity of their movements, leaps, and pirouettes, were a reminder of a much greater freedom. That from slavery and that to me was worth leaping for. The United States of America respected and granted its inhabitants the right to worship freely but still endorsed slavery for seventy six more years. When African-Americans praise God and leap and jump and shout out in the aisles, it is a testament to freedom, freedom of worship and freedom from slavery.

Undeniably, there is a need for Black History Month just like there will always be a need to never forget the day Barack Obama was sworn in as President. The need to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, Madame C.J. Walker, Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, Condoleeza Rice, Oprah Winfrey, Johnson H. Johnson, Billie Holiday, Michael Jordan, Colin Powell amongst others will always persist. But as much as Black History Month is a reminder of accomplishments, it should also be a call to responsiblity and a time for deep reflection and to ask the all important question of what we are doing with our freedom. We did not become free to shake our behinds on national television, invest our money in consumer goods while our net worth suffers or lead the nation in new cases of HIV infections. We are better than that. We are a huge market and our presence should be felt not just only in the cash registers of department stores but in the halls of the Ivy Leagues, in government, in the film industry, technology and everywhere else there is a name to be made in the pursuit of something positive. But while we work towards that, Black History Month is and will always be celebrated in February.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Where Did All the Time Go?

I am unashamedly addicted to the internet. I do have a knack for being able to find almost anything on the internet. So if you're trying to hide something from me, you'd be unwise to dig a big virtual hole to stash that something away because I will find it. I spend a lot of my time reading the news, but the news is so varied today and gossip counts as news, hence I read a lot of gossip blogs. Interestingly, I bet I could tell you what Kanye West had for lunch on January 15. But then again the internet is so full of verbal vomit that if I know what Mr. West had for lunch, it's only because he told me on Twitter.

I've found great things on the internet and met people on the internet. No I do not have a membership on eharmony or one of those sites, but I have made some great contacts.

Frequently, I'm asked by people how I am able to find so much on the internet. To that question, I sometimes have not had the model response, I do not think there is one. But after being proded, I am going to share some sites that I have grown to love on this thing called the internet and will be interested in knowing what some of my readers enjoy.

1. Apartment Therapy
2. Facebook
3. Southern Weddings
4. Karla's Closet
5. The New York Times
6. The Sartorialist
7. The Young, Black, and Fabulous
8. Twitter
9. Bleed for Fashion
10. Gentlemen's Quarterly
11. Lonely Planet
12. NPR
13. The Harriet Project
14. New York Magazine
15. LexisNexis

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's already the sixth day in 2011. I am truly thrilled to be alive because it's going to be an even better year than 2010. I've been working on a mental bucket list and here are ten things off that list that I must do in 2011. My list is actually a lot longer though.

1. Learn how to swim, so I can learn to scuba dive.
2. Take a road trip out west {Utah, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico}
3. Meet MO :)
4. Attend The White House Project's Annual Convention, Passion 2011 in Forth Worth, SXSW?, Essence Music Festival, HBS Africa Business Conference, and a food festival of some sort.
5. Write more short stories.
6. Write more short stories.
7. Give to a different charity every month {I already gave to Partners in Health for January; you should give to them too and support the work they do}.
8. Be a better friend, sister, daughter, grandchild, student, cousin, and aunty {even though my nephew is a sometimes monster, lol}.
9. Invest in a lot more items that have resale value.
10. Read more books. I find reading makes me a better writer and I live to write amongst other things.

Bonus: Cook more than I did in 2010 and make sure there's some good red wine on hand.