Friday, April 6, 2012

No Justice, No Peace,

In the religion of the Yoruba people, Obatala is the king of the white cloth.  This Orisa must love chlorine bleach and Mr. Clean because his white clothing is always unblemished and pristine.  He is often depicted as a wizened elder dressed in his white cloth from head to toe.  His great age is simply a manifestation of his wisdom.  And if he is illustrated with hair it is always the peppered or white that indicates significant age.  He is the one Orisa with the responsibility to create land over the water.  Baba Obatala’s realm is the mountains, especially the ones with snow capped peaks.  He is the old man that rarely moves and when he does, it is slowly and with a purpose.  But when he does move, pay close attention because its significance is as great as a massive earthquake.

His energy is the essence of clarity.  It is clarity that allows humans to make the right decisions and to differentiate right from wrong and perhaps most importantly, to see things as they truly are.  And it is because of this energy that Obatala is the Orisa of the courthouse and of all things judicial.  White forms a perfect background for correctly seeing and identifying that which is around you.  His association with the color white is also viewed as a sign of purity in the ability to discern and to make judgments.  His energy gives us the ability to see the complete picture for any issue needing to be judged and weighed despite the complexity.  For the children of Obatala the world is seen in black and white and there is no gray area.  With Obatala help, we can see things as either right or wrong and there is rarely any middle ground.

Obatala can only help us do our jobs to find clarity and seek the truth when we make the honest search for truth our goal.  But when our law enforcers are not honest and use their position as arbitrator to push a particular outcome based on personal bias and prejudice, Baba Obatala has no choice but to wash his hands of the matter and leave people to their own devices void of any clarity or righteousness.  And the result is chaos and mistrust and nothing that even remotely resembles justice.

Ever since people of African descent set foot in America we have been forced to deal with the painful backhand of America’s justice system.  It is this alleged justice system that judged black people as less than human.  An honest look at what it means to be human would have recognized black people as people with a different skin color and heritage.  But people had an agenda when the question was asked if it was right to consider the children of Africa the equal of the Caucasian.  White people would lose their source of cheap labor if the question was answered honestly.  And therefore, from the beginning black people were judged a lesser form of life void of any hope of justice.  And the lack of true justice that was established then is the same pattern of justice that we continue to follow today.

Today, the prejudice against black people is thick.  Despite the legal presumption that a defendant is innocent until he or she is actually proven to be guilty, our justice system regularly operates under the presumption that black people are in fact guilty and a trial in a court of law is just a formal, drawn out process full of legalese to reach a foregone conclusion.  Statistics show that black people are more inclined to commit crime and so we can dispense with any real determination of facts and just run with our racially tainted prejudice.  Never mind the fact that the circular logic that black people are more likely to be guilty therefore we can find them guilty without really looking for truth.  The chance for real justice is lost, or at the very least unfairly far more difficult to obtain.  It is very unfortunately that our national collective has decided to stumble down this path of mistrust and fear.

Just like all of our other social systems, the judicial system is heavily biased and heavily weighted against the well being of people in the black community.  We like to promote the idea that our courtroom is a place where people are judged by the merits of their case.  But all too often the baggage of our learned social orthodoxies is just as much a part of standard courtroom procedure as a gavel or the black judge’s robe.  Color that robe black and give your honor a matching pointy hat and nobody would know the difference.  Give that same modified uniform to a lot of people who work to keep the wheels of justice moving, if only at a snail’s pace, and you would have a much more precise image of our justice and legal system.

It’s time people wake up to the fact that the United States judicial system was never meant to be a place where black people would be treated fairly.  When it comes to black people America’s special brand of justice is about as blind as the Hubble space telescope.  There is no clarity.  There is no truth.  There is nothing to make sure the process is fair for people in the black community.  That’s the way it was founded.  That’s the way it exists today.  Hopefully, we will come to the realization that this injustice needs some kind of attention.  And just like when the mountain moves things will be shaken up to such a point our national community will have no choice but to sit up and take notice.   And maybe then Baba Obatala will take his rightful place in our courtroom and we will have true clarity for a change.

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