[altroots] in the interest of social change


   Once again, the judicial system has shown what little value is placed opon 
the lives of black children and blacks in general. Last week in the Florida 
panhandle, seven guards accused in the  boot-camp death of fourteen year old 
Martin Lee Anderson were acquitted. They were accused of causing his death by 
asphyxiating him while using disciplinary tactics because they believed him to 
be faking illness. Well, as was shown in the video-taped beating, the boy was 
obviously ill as he was unresponsive while they kicked and dragged him. How do 
you kick a child? Any child? Why was this one black child less deserving of 
the care and consideration many people believe Michael Vick's dogs derserved? 
At 
the most the guards were guilty of manslaughter; the very least, assault.
   Not many years ago, there was a system in the United States sanctioned by 
law called Jim Crow. For a while we've been under the false assumption that it 
no longer exists; but that does not seem to be the case. Jim Crow is alive 
and well in the U.S. Under that system, it was not uncommon for crimes against 
blacks to go unprosecuted or unpunished. Nearly two years ago, a black teenager 
in Delray Beach, sixteen year-old Jerrod Miller, was shot in the back of the 
head by a white police officer. One can only be shot in the back of the head 
if one is leaving or fleeing, thereby posing no threat. Jerrod's only crime was 
driving without a license, a common rite of passage for most American teens, 
yet many whites in the community were more than willing to blame Jerrod for 
his own demise. Imagine how that must hurt his family. 
  In Jena, Louisiana, a black teenager has been incarcerated for nearly a 
year; charged as an adult with attempted murder for a fight at school. No bail 
was allowed then or now. The adult charge was dropped after much protest and he 
was re-charged as a juvenile and released on house arrest, but is now back in 
jail under a trumped-up charge that seems to be motivated by malice.  Why? 
Because of the color of his skin? What else are we to think when no charges 
were 
made against a group of white males who attacked a black student at a party 
after hanging nooses from a school tree that they claimed for themselves as 
whites only? Anyone who pretends not to understand why blacks are affected by 
the 
sight of a noose should ask a Jewish person how they feel upon the sight of a 
swastika.

  Many times I've opened my local newspaper and read letters from readers 
villifying black youth while excuses are made for others. What seems to be an 
intentional lack of empathy is very painful. There is no denying that myriad 
problems exist within the black community and culture; a fact which makes this 
community no different than any other. What is different is that many Americans 
refuse to recognize these problems as the result of  many, many years of 
marginalization and unfair treatment. Everyday there are American soldiers 
dying 
while "bringing democracy" to a middle eastern country thousands of miles away. 
How can we care what happens to the people of that country when we don't seem 
to care what happens to all Americans?

Peace,
Karen Stephens
Alternate Roots
West Palm Beach, Fl



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