Justice should not be influenced by race, but it sometimes is. There certainly are all white juries who will as equally acquit a black male as commonly as all black juries who would convict him. However, it cannot be denied that jurors bring different background and experiences… and sometimes prejudice into the courtroom.
Post slavery, Jim Crow laws were laws enacted between 1876 and 1965 to address racial segregation at the state and local levels. The separation of whites and blacks often led to inferior conditions and treatment for African Americans. African Americans were imprisoned at an alarming and unequal rate, where they would be returned to working in poor conditions for unpaid labor. It was a slavery substitute.
With as much celebration and civil rights’ successes as America has had since then, including the election of Barack Obama, America still fails to be a country of equality. Yes, an African American can achieve the highest office in the land, but most still face challenges of everyday prejudice and stereotyping that most in the country would rather ignore.
Take, “The Talk,” for example. When I reference “The Talk” that I as a white parent dread, my white circles and I are mostly on the same page about what that means. It means the awkward talk about sex and procreation.
When my black brothers and sisters have to give “The Talk,” it is very different. It is about survival, how to act when (not if) you are approached by a white officer and about the examples of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown and Greg Hill, Jr. It is about how as a black person, the benefit of the doubt does not come automatically.
That, my friends, says it all. We are not truly equal until we are all equally worried about making life and not the taking of life. Jurors bring this experience with them to civil and criminal trials.
As such, we wanted to take a look at the breakdown of the black population county-by-county in Florida. Soon, we will compare this to arrest and conviction rates. Some of our findings will be compelling.