I watched 60 Minutes this past Sunday and saw another view of racism. A young Black lawyer named Brian Stevenson has built a museum to the history of lynching (hangings) in Montgomery, Alabama. As I watched the special report, I thought about three young clients I currently have, all under the age of twenty, and all whose lives are in a cloud because their status in California’s so-called justice system.
The ﬁrst one is a young lady. I shall call her “D”. D is Black. When she was bullied on a daily basis at a PUSD middle school by a group of students who are not Black. She took it, again and again, she reported it, over and over, but nothing was done about it. The bullying continued until one day she had had enough. She put up her ﬁsts and a ﬁght resulted. She won the ﬁ ght. The other young student was reported to have been taken home by the Principal in the principal’s car. Now, the administration decided it was time to do something. That something was to suspend the Black student for THIRTY DAYS. A 30 day suspension is extreme. It was followed up by an expulsion hearing. We won the expulsion hearing and D was allowed back in school for the TWO WEEKS left in the school year.
We sued the school district because D was the only one who was suspended from school and that is discrimination. Discrimination is still illegal. Yes, we got paid but D was arrested when the school district called the Sheriff in.
I believe that if there is a ﬁght, it generally involves at least two people. So when a decision is made to punish one of the parties in the ﬁght, how do you decide which one? You pick the Black one that is the alleged path of least resistance. To pick only the Black one and punish him or her, you are discriminating and someone should ﬁle a claim and a lawsuit. In a related matter, six girls from this same school beat another girl to the point that she was taken to the hospital by ambulance. When they got to the hospital the girl said she fell because she was in fear that the truth would get her beaten up more.
My second case involves a young Black man who I’ll call “S”. S allegedly got drunk, got in a ﬁght and, 1) because he broke the other guy’s nose, he went to jail charged with a felony, and 2), he has a history of arrests, therefore, his mutual combat resulted up in him having the potential of a third strike. The other guy told the police he fell and S helped him up to his feet.
His previous crimes/convictions involved his alleged drunk aunt and uncle ﬁghting with him at a party, and he got the best of them. He was a teenager at the time and the aunt and uncle were adults. Result: he decided against his lawyer and mother’s advice that in the interest of family unity he would plead guilty to two felonies, hence triggering the three strikes potential. In the present case, two witnesses say it looked like S was helping a drunk man get up. If convicted S could do a number of years in prison for a ﬁght. The other guy will go home. Discriminatory prosecution is still discrimination. Time will tell.
The third case is a tragic one. A young African American male boy, 9 years old was found in the bathroom at school with another young boy who is White allegedly feigning sexual contact. This alleged contact involved one boy’s allegedly feigned oral contact with the penis of the other boy. Remember that this was a nine year old. This occurrence was at a local private Christian school.
A phone call to the parents of the young African American boy was made to inform them that their son was summarily and immediately expelled from the school. They could not return him to the school. That was it. There was no hearing. The white boy was not expelled.
Summarized: Two babies allegedly engaging in sexual contact. One went home. The other is expelled without the school ever hearing his side of the story. Lawsuit time.
At Stevenson’s Museum in Alabama there is a picture of a Black preacher, T.A. Allen, hanging, with a note in his pocket that said, “Every Man a King.”
These three events would have been enough for a lynching in Montgomnery, Alabama, to add to the 4,000 plus documented by Brian Stevenson. At least one was a woman, named Eliza Cowans who was lynched. It is not clear why she was hanged but there didn’t have to be a reason. There she is in the history books with the White crowd all dressed up in their Sunday best, standing around watching her humanity being taken away.
The least we can do as we watch racism being played out here in 2018 in Pasadena, California and throughout our hometown is tell our story and not let it die. I choose to tell it like the words in an old spiritual, “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere“. If we don’t ﬁght to stop racism, it will keep creeping and evolving further into our lives from generation to generation. Brian Stevenson is getting justice by creating his Museum.