Last weekend, Maryan and I went to North Carolina so I could perform the wedding for Maryan’s niece. To say the least, it was interesting traveling across the country during a pandemic. On the plane, I had an opportunity to watch “Just Mercy,” a movie about a lawyer who started a free legal clinic to provide representation for inmates on the death row. The story was about a man who was convicted of a crime that he did not commit and spent about seven years on the death row. I recommend that you watch the movie.
The importance of the movie for me was just how rampant the misuse of police power is in the U.S. The events of “Just Mercy” are not from the 1950’s before Civil Rights, but it is something that happened this century. This is not an incident we can simply file away in the annuals of history, but this is happening today.
As I watched the movie, it became clear just how much we allow the misuse of police and judicial power to be veiled in the facade of law and order. In this case, a white woman is murdered, so the white police give a white criminal a pass on a crime which he did commit so to implicate an innocent black man for the crime which he did not commit.
The movie showed a justice system that did not look at the evidence because it did not want to. While there may not have been actions that would have fit the legal definition of collusion, it was evident that there was cultural collusion of racial bias that railroaded an innocent black man. When the white legal system was shown the misdeeds of the white police, it protected the white system by ignoring the truth. This is cultural collusion.
The movie also showed the power of public pressure. The change did not come until the angry lawyer got on the 60 Minutes and exposed their corruption to the national scrutiny. The racial bias embedded in their legal system, which enabled them to ignore the overwhelming evidence of innocence, the cultural collusion was exposed. The public awareness eventually forced the system to do what was right, and the innocent was freed.
Cultural collusion forces all of us to look deeper within ourselves as to see if we are complicit to systemic racism or if we are being anti-racists. In the movie, the townspeople were complicit as they did not care about the truth; they just wanted someone to pay for the crime – eye for an eye. This week’s ruling from Louisville shows us that the racist cultural collusion between law enforcement and the legal system is deeply entrenched in our social ethos. I am convinced that if that same police force pulled the same shenanigan in a wealthy white suburb, they would have all be convicted of murder already.
We must admit that we have racist cultural collusion which declares that a working person’s life is worth less, a black person’s life is worth less, a woman’s life is worth less, and a person living in a rented apartment is worth less, and gives power to a police state to protect those who are white, who are wealthy, and who live in their own home in a suburb by means of “law and order” with no repercussions.
The power to change the society is in the hands of the people, and the public awareness exposes racist cultural collusion. In this election season, I ask all of you to educate yourself on the issues, engage in making your voice heard, and encourage others to join you in the process. We are the people of the truth.