Black Women: Justice for All?

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

If you’ve been with me for a while you’ve already read my first blog in this series, Black Women: America’s Punching Bag. We covered a lot of territory but this one I felt needed its very own piece…. Why does OUR justice system continue to re-victimize us?

Rich and white is right… right?

We’ve all seen the headlines with Felicity Huffman and her “trial” and “sentencing” for paying off someone to alter her daughters’ SAT scores in order to increase her chances of getting into college. (I believe there was much more to that story, but I’ll stick to the facts we know). She was sentenced to 14 days in jail, 1-year probation and 250 hrs. of community service. In a case where a black mother, Kelley Williams-Bolar, used her dad’s address to ensure her children were going to a better school, she received an initial 3-year sentence which was later reduced to 10 days. However, she also got 2 years’ probation and 80 hrs. of community service.

If you are unfamiliar with probation that means that during this time you are bound to a specific set of rules that IF you violate them and are caught, you could be rearrested and have to serve additional time in jail. You can imagine how much more likely it is for a person of color, specifically a black woman, to be arrested and possibly “reoffend” than her white counterpart, which would be a direct violation of probation.

Now do I think either case is right… maybe not. I do, however, take issue with jail time for someone that is simply trying to ensure the best possible education for their child. I put myself in the other parents’ shoes. How would I feel if my children’s’ schools were overcrowded by students who don’t live in the area? It’s already happening! The fix is to fix our education system so that there isn’t a “better” school than the ones that other children attend. I digress though…

How do I know that black women are judged differently…?

During college I worked at a retail store, I will not name said store. There were always shoplifters at this store because it was very popular during that time and still is today. Our store manager would only have us “watch” the black women that came in the store until one day I did my own investigation and made it my mission to stop this white lady whom I knew was stealing but couldn’t ever catch her. Without fail when our sale was announced she was in the store within 48 hrs. I watched her with my own two eyes stuff her daughter’s stroller with over $500 worth of merchandise. She went into the bathroom with some items and cut off/burned off the security sensors. She was white.

I cannot count the number of times I personally have been followed in a store, especially if it’s a higher end type store; simply because I am black. Now my daughters are having to endure the same thing. It’s one of those unfair rites of passage that all black women will go through. I don’t care what your socioeconomic status is, if you are black and female; you will or have gotten followed in a store.

In a study by Georgetown Law, when surveyed about the differences between black girls and white girls of the same age:

Black girls need less nurturing • Black girls need less protection • Black girls need to be supported less • Black girls need to be comforted less • Black girls are more independent • Black girls know more about adult topics • Black girls know more about sex.

If this is what every day citizens believe, what do you think the judges, lawyers, police officers think? Its systemic victimization of black girls/women. We are “strong” so we should be able to take whatever is thrown our way and truthfully, for the most part, we can and do. This doesn’t mean that the justice system should punish us more harshly than our white sisters.

From that same Georgetown Study:

Unfortunately, our unjust and unfair judgement begins to happen at a very young age.

Victims, yet no justice…

Marissa Alexander, using her voice to change the narrative