I almost ended up locked up when I was 16 for something I didn't do because someone said "the black kid did it".
I had the pleasure of being interviewed on the Jake Sasseville show and I decided to open up for the first time publicly about an incident in high school that left me facing 4 years in juvenile detention for something I didn't do because someone said "the black kid did it" and because the judicial system is faulty at best. I get emotional about the ordeal to this day for two reasons.
1. Because only as an adult have I been able to begin to empathize with the absolute fear and terror my parents dealt with during the 9 month ordeal from incident to trial as they watched their black son, with all of his good grades, and community service hours, and church activities, and his private school education, get pulled into the same BS that so many boys of color unfairly get pulled into and never get out of. There were countless nights of tears for them through it all - I can't imagine.
And 2. Because my story is a terrible story with a "happy" ending not just because of my innocence, but because of the socioeconomic and educational privilege I was born into. My "not guilty" verdict after the two day 9 hour trial came only because of parents with certain resources and education, the ability to take time off of work, a whole lot of prayer, and a church community that stood with us through it all. I was sucked in because I was "the black kid" but made it out because I was born into a blessing of a family. Other black and poor kids are not so lucky. I get emotional thinking about how many not-guilty teens are pulled into the system and whose lives are ruined because of the system's self-serving revolving door. And then I think about the kids who are guilty of minor infractions, whose lives are ruined because they're KIDS and kids make dumb mistakes and the system is neither built to rehabilitate nor empower. And if you are poor or a person of color you will be penalized more severely and your life changes more drastically because of that punishment. I made it out, but only in part because of my innocence. I get angry and upset about all those who did not. Something has to change.
Jake - thank you for giving me the opportunity to share. I hope you all enjoy this conversation with open ears and hearts and that you question whatever blind faith you may have in the "justice" system.
Peace and Blessings