Tuesday, May 26, 2009

moral beings

I stand before you as a moral being ... and as a moral being I feel that I owe it to the suffering slave and the deluded master, to my country and to the world, to do all that I can to overturn a system of complicated crimes, built upon the broken hearts and the prostrate bodies of my countrymen in chains and cemented by the blood, sweat, and tears of my sisters in bonds.

~ Angelina Grimké ~
Abolitionist and feminist (1805-1879)

I watched a movie tonight called Black and White. Based in Australia in the late 50s-early 60s, an aboriginal man is convicted and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a little girl. The story follows his trial and shows how justice is not done for people of color, the underprivileged--basically, anyone who is not a white male of authority.

The prime minister commuted his death sentence--not because it was the right thing to do, but for political expediency. Max (the "half-cast" aboriginal) spent fourteen years in prison for a crime he says he didn't commit. The real Max makes a cameo at the end of the film: "Some people still think I'm guilty. Some think I'm not."

We have made some progress. Not enough. The disadvantaged are still...disadvantaged. Those who are not of the "ruling class"--and make no mistake, we do have a class system--often aren't adequately heard in their quest for justice. Not just in the courts, but in jobs and relationships and systems of all kinds.

Moral beings, we are. Aren't we?


margie said...

far from it. we have a long way to go.

Joan said...

Yes, we do have a class system. And rather than the classes coming closer together I fear that they are moving farther apart in today's society. It takes a huge effort on everyone's part to "play fair" and I am not sure enough people are willing.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

We are.

And as an advocate for the developmentally disabled, I am keenly aware of how far we have come - and just how far we have yet to go.

She said...

Yep. We have a class system, to be sure! And the postmodern narrative lie is that we don't and that all can have the same opportunities for success. So not true.

graceonline said...

Many believe it is no accident that US prisons are filled with people of color, in enormous disproportion to our demographics. Prison is almost a rite of passage for young dark-skinned men. Now the governor of California is gutting schools as part of his budget balancing act, while we continue to build more prisons because the ones we have are so overcrowded the prisoners bunk four high, toe to toe, elbow to elbow in every available space.

Yes, the governor threatens to throw a lot of them out on the streets and into county and city jails because he doesn't have the money to feed, clothe and care for their medical needs any longer.

What if we tore down all the prisons and built more schools, funded more jobs, gave more hands up and out of poverty? What then?