Value

It should not matter that Michael Brown was enrolling in college. It shouldn’t matter that his pants sagged or what neighborhood her was from. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. It always does. Society places no value on the lives of black children. I could sugar coat it. I could make it pretty for you, but it would be no less true. These children are left in the position of having to defend their existence. It is unjust. It is disgusting. It is reality.

It’s why a cop can empty a clip into a child and still claim that it’s just. The justice system devalues the lives of black children. I don’t say this to shame anyone.  I don’t think all cops hate black youth. I’m simply not blind to the fact that, more often than not, young black men are seen as suspects rather than citizens. The easiest way to justify force against someone is to dehumanize them. Value is in humanity, but once it is stripped away then what?

As a student public defender, I was trained in how to make my clients more appealing to the judge. “You have to highlight that he wants to go to college. Say he’s going to the military. Talk about his good grades.” I was really being told to justify the clients’ existence. Never mind that these clients were typically teenage first offenders at risk of being locked up for minor drug charges.  I saw countless older Caucasian men walk away from the same charges. No one had to say that they were going to become the next Captain America. They didn’t have to. The justice system recognizes their value.

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