Execution of Davis opens old wounds
September 23, 2011 1:34PM
Updated: November 10, 2011 5:56PM
The state of Georgia carried out the sentence of death by lethal injection on inmate Troy Anthony Davis this week. Davis, a black man, faced execution for the murder of a white police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah Ga. The murder took place Aug. 19, 1989.
While it is impossible for me, or any other person not privy to the trial transcripts, to judge fairly the outcome, it is possible for us to review the public response to this execution.
Public reaction to this execution by the state of Georgia, perhaps more than other state capital punishment cases, sent the world of social media, like Twitter and Facebook, into a frenzy. While it is common for intense commentary to occur on these sites, it is important to note that much of the conversation derives from the source of personal opinion about politics and who is who’s new boo.
In this case, the action of a state or governmental entity precipitated and laid the foundation for the storm of debate. The opinions ranged from the validity or invalidity of the death penalty to the charge of racism by the state of Georgia in the application of this penalty.
Regardless of which position taken in this case, one thing is abundantly clear: Society should never glory in the death of another, even if that person is convicted of a capital crime.
In addition, after perusing the reaction in social media, as well as the reactions from those who comment on articles from publications on the Internet, I think it’s clear that this case opens the wounds of racism that for many people remained unhealed.
For some, the death of Troy Davis seems to be a painful remainder of a past time in the United States. While we cannot deny the shameful history of this country regarding race relations, it is equally true tremendous progress is evident.
However, for those still stinging from personal experience of the past, passed down pain from a previous generation, or the perception of injury that stems from carrying the unnecessary baggage of victimization, the action by Georgia elicits painful reverberations in their spirit.
This is why I preach and teach freedom from the results of racism whether perceived or real. Far too prevalent for many, lurking just below the surface of the psyche is the unresolved pain of racism. When incidents like the capital punishment death of a black man for killing a white man occur, many black people bristle because of what feels like the ignoring of an aggrieved position.
It is this aggrieved status that could be the driving force behind the outrage that would cause television Judge Greg Mathis to post a YouTube video in response to the Davis case.
While my comments do not intend to argue the guilt or innocence of Davis or the validity of the death penalty, I must say I find it more than a bit unsettling when someone of the stature of Judge Mathis makes comments about a case over which he did not preside, nor did he say he read the trial transcript and looked at the evidence.
I would expect someone of the intellectual stature of Judge Mathis to be a bit more forthcoming if indeed he had intimate knowledge of this case. Perhaps he had such knowledge, but simply could not share it in the 10-minute YouTube time limit.
Regardless, the issue of resolving the hurt of the past should involve a collective mindset among blacks to release this pain in a positive manner. Such things as speaking frankly with our children about race, without passing the pain of our lives to them, and helping them understand people exist among us who simply live in ignorance.
At the risk of sounding like Malcolm X when asked what can white people do to help, I would suggest my white brothers and sisters embrace the reality that many minorities, black and otherwise, still smart from the perception that America seems to want to remain detached from its past sins.
Simply put, only the most uninformed among us expects people who had nothing to do with slavery can remedy this horror of our country’s history. But it is not unreasonable to expect that those who bristle at our reaction should also understand that, in many minority communities, there is a degree of suspicion surrounding the actions of government, criminal justice and law enforcement authorities.
In light of these suggestions, the reality is that it is time for the wound to heal. This open sore in the psyche of people who are otherwise committed to surviving and advancing, serves as a barrier to the very success and advancement they seek.
I speak not to the intentionally uninformed who desire to wallow in illogic. On the contrary, I speak to those who want the American dream and are willing to work for it.
My words are to those of you who yearn for success in the land of the free and home of the brave. You can heal, and your healing has nothing to do with changing how people view you, only how you view yourself.