This Post is Not Cohesive
I'm sure that by now, many of you have heard about Brock Turner's ridiculous sentencing for a completely horrendous crime that he committed. You've probably read the victim's letter, which she read aloud in court, which is poignant and chilling and raw. You've probably read the response of Brock's father, who said that his son has already suffered enough for "20 minutes of action." You've probably read that the judge's sentencing of 6 months was decided upon because more jail time than that might have a severe impact on Brock's life. You've probably read the post by another father, detailing why Brock's father should not be defending his son. You've probably read the post by a woman applauding the victim for sharing her story so bravely, whose blogpost is a battle cry for women to rally and criminalize Brock to the best of our abilities.
As I read these articles, I keep thinking about privilege. There's the obvious comparison, that if the rapist had been a person of color, that 6 month sentence probably would have been changed to the maximum 14 years. Earlier this year, I read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It is an inside look at just how unjust our justice system is. The stories in his book are about people of color being given the death penalty for crimes they did not commit or for crimes that in no way warrant that severe of punishment, about children who are tried as adults and given life without parole for crimes they committed before their brains are developed enough to think about long term consequences.
So why the light sentence for this man? Privilege. White privilege. Class privilege. Privilege in how the media portrays him. He is not being portrayed as a sex-crazed thug. He's being cast as the poor, sad scholarship athlete whose life has been taken away. The picture plastered all over the internet (until recently, thanks to reporters who dug up his mugshot) was one of him in a shirt and tie, smiling. Where was that picture of Michael Brown? Eric Garner?
How can a young boy like Tamir Rice be killed for playing with an Airsoft gun in a park when he's 12 years old, and Brock Turner gets less than a year in jail? Privilege. Tamir Rice's death has stuck with me, because he was so close in age to my students when he died. That could have been any one of my students. I am so lucky it was not. The young woman who was raped is 23, just like me. That could have been me, any time I left a party and walked home. It could have been me leaving the bar. It could have been me anywhere.
This post is not cohesive. I offer no answers, no peace of mind, no new perspective on the terrible things that have happened. All I know is that THIS is why white people have to wake up. THIS is why people say that racism still exists. We may not have "colored only" bathrooms and water fountains anymore, but we do have white rapists walking relatively free. And that is frightening to me.