“We have a system of justice that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
I live in Michigan, one of the more northern states in our union. I live in a moderately integrated suburb of Detroit, a city where the majority of the population is black. It wasn’t always this way—when I was born, 67 years ago, my family lived and worked in Detroit, and the majority population was white.
Detroit and its suburbs, these days, is a model of diversity. We live in integrated neighborhoods; the deed restrictions that once kept blacks from moving into white neighborhoods are history and discrimination has become far less noticeable. Still, we have a long way to go to end racial discrimination in the Detroit Metropolitan area. Because, if we are honest, we will admit that discrimination is rooted in our upbringing and culture.
Unequal application of criminal justice for blacks vs. whites is a sad example of this phenomenon in America. People of color are arrested more, convicted more, and wrongfully convicted more than white people. They spend more time in prison for the same crimes as white people and are sentenced more severely than whites. This type of systemic inequality is on graphic display on HBO’s new documentary, True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality. Stevenson narrates not only how he came to assist those falsely accused of crimes, but discusses the nation’s complicity, particularly its courts, in a continuing practice of injustice to poor and marginalized people.
Before viewing this outstanding program, I must confess, I had never heard of Bryan Stevenson, but, clearly, he is a national hero. I urge you to watch this remarkable documentary and, perhaps, contribute to the various non-profits it highlights.