I would like to thank all of the kind folks who donated to WARN's fundraising drive. Their generosity is very heartwarming to me. Thank you. Again.
I planned to post a new episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show today.
I will share that great conversation with Tim Wise on Monday of next week as a holiday treat of sorts.
[My conversation with Jason Colavito about fringe history and race can be found here. If you have not listened to it yet, I do think you will be pleasantly surprised. Jason does some great teaching and sharing.]
I have also been busy with what is planned as a 2 part essay for Alternet where I ask some necessary, and for some, quite uncomfortable questions about the worshipful culture that insulates American police from accountability for their murder, harassment, and brutal treatment of black and brown people.
Police fetishists and Right-wing authoritarians will not be pleased...but then again are they ever pleased by truth-telling about racism and the culture of cruelty?
Several years ago I posted some photos of former black human chattel as compiled in the WPA archives. The photos of human beings who were owned as property was so evocative, powerful, disturbing, and moving, that I observed how "their eyes are watching us".
I had that same feeling earlier today.
In 1944, a 14-year-old child named George Stinney was killed by the state of South Carolina because he supposedly killed two white girls. Stinney was so short that he had to sit on a pile of books so that the electric chair could fry him:
James Gamble, whose father was the sheriff at the time, told the Herald in 2003 he was in the back seat with Stinney when his father drove the boy to prison.
“There wasn’t ever any doubt about him being guilty,” he said. “He was real talkative about it. He said, ‘I’m real sorry. I didn’t want to kill them girls.’ “
Indeed, just 84 days after the girls’ deaths, Stinney was sent to the electric chair. Today, an appeal from a death sentence is all but automatic, and years, even decades, pass before an execution, which provides at least some time for new evidence to emerge.He is still dead. He cannot be brought back to life. He has been posthumously exonerated:
Stinney was barely 5 feet tall and not yet 100 pounds. The electric chair’s straps were too big for his frail body. Newspapers at the time reported he had to sit on books to reach the headpiece. And when the switch was flipped, the convulsions knocked down the large mask, exposing his tearful face to the crowd.
George Stinney was arrested, convicted of murder in a one-day trial and executed in 1944 — all in the span of about three months and without an appeal. The speed in which the state meted out justice against the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century was shocking and extremely unfair, Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen wrote in her ruling Wednesday.
“I can think of no greater injustice,” Mullen wrote.
It took Mullen nearly four times as long to issue her ruling as it took in 1944 to go from arrest to execution.
Stinney's case has long been whispered in civil rights circles in South Carolina as an example of how a black person could be railroaded by a justice system during the Jim Crow era where the investigators, prosecutors and juries were all white.
The case received renewed attention because of a crusade by textile inspector and school board member George Frierson. Armed with a binder full of newspaper articles and other evidence, he and a law firm believed the teen represented everything that was wrong with South Carolina during the era of segregation.
“It was obviously a long shot but one we thought was worth taking,” said attorney Matt Burgess, whose firm argued that Stinney should get a new trial.
Mullen went a step further by vacating Stinney's conviction. Her 29-page order included references to the 1931 Scottsboro Boys case in Alabama, where nine black teens were convicted of raping two white women. Eight of them were sentenced to death.
12-year-old Tamir Rice is dead in the immediate present. The video evidence of his murder by cop clearly demonstrates that he was shot with extreme prejudice. The police thug union still defends the actions of a known incompetent who was fired from his previous job because of sub-par performance.
Tamir and George are united in death through their murder by the state and the dual processes of adultification and white supremacy.
Their images are flanked on the left by an editorial cartoon from the October 28, 1876 edition of Harper's Weekly where a white man has murdered a black child under the banner of "self-defense".
The subheading? "Ef I hadn't er killed you, you would hev grown up to rule over me."
The image on the right is of Darren Wilson, the cop who killed Michael Brown. In his grand jury testimony, Wilson spun a white supremacist fantasy/nightmare tale in which Brown was a giant negro, one that who was demonically possessed, and had the superhuman ability to run through a fusillade of bullets as he tried to kill the innocent, white, and vulnerable police officer.
A group project:
1. What do you see when you look at these images?
2. How would you caption/narrate this series of images for a photo essay?
3. Are you like me? Do you also feel the eyes of Tamir Rice and George Stinney on you?