Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Open Letter to Dr Rachel Maddow and The Producers of MSNBC regarding Troy Davis!

Hi Rachel!

    My name is Hassan Hartley, and I watched with pain and horror last night at the amazing coverage MSNBC provided on the Troy Davis execution story. Your network provided a variety of angles on the story, which i found enlightening. One area that  I was hoping to get from your network, and your show, was the interesting juxtaposition of two executions occurring on the SAME DAY.

Two men, one white, one admits guilt, one claims innocence...both executed for charges of murder.

The opportunity to discuss the historically bad relationship between black men and the criminal justice system was missed ALTOGETHER. The historical context to provide how vastly different  many blacks viewed the execution of Troy Davis than white liberals. White liberals used this as a perfect example of why the death penalty should be abolished, and that is perfectly understandable as a position. Many of us as African Americans took a somewhat different, and more nuanced view. One that could be best described as "here we go again"...yet ANOTHER black male murdered potentially for a crime he may not have committed. It was a PERFECT opportunity to discuss how the system can still function in a way that is potentially destructive to  the African American collective. Despite having a black District Attorney, and the head of the Parole board also being a black man, yet the system functions EXACTLY the same as it did 50 years ago. 100 years ago. 200 years ago.

It was a perfect opportunity to smash the myth of race NOT being a factor in American life, even if our President is African American himself..

Instead, we heard all night about the death penalty and its inherent flaws. Notice how LITTLE outrage occurred by anyone over the white man executed for murdering James Byrd in a crime he admitted to, as an avowed white supremacist...placing these two cases side by side, to show the nuances of race in the criminal justice in the 21st century, would have provided a CLASSIC opportunity to show how SYSTEMIC racism and biases against people of color is, and the myth that placing more blacks in key positions in an inherently racist SYSTEM, will not change the system ITSELF.

The notion that the system benefits those with MONEY more than those without, is absolutely correct.

However, the fact that the average net worth and asset base of an African American is generally 20 times( i have read reports  as high as 50 times) LOWER than their average white counterparts, shows us that race and economics often overlap and intersect in the same ways they always have.

The system has the virus of racial bias in its very DNA, and must be fixed altogether.

As Dr Boyce Watkins eloquently put it, "Black men are more likely to be stopped by police, more likely to be arrested when we commit the same crimes as whites, more likely to be sent to prison and end up receiving longer sentences for the same crimes. "....

I hope that tonight, you talk about this angle, and not just pretend that race had no impact on perceptions of this case itself...

We have over 10,000 black elected officials in the United States, including an African American President of the United States.

Yet the criminal justice system is worse on black men than ever before. the condition of blacks is at its worst in DECADES.

The only point this case proves, is that the system is STILL an enemy of the black community, no matter how many blacks are selected to "execute" its agenda.

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