The US system of justice has become our wayward son, an errant seed, an addict strung out on power and privilege as its drugs of choice. Like it or not, we are wed to this odious spawn. Whether
by birth or consequence of a conscious decision to immigrate to the land of the
bastard son, he is our burden to carry, our collective cross to bear.
Time and again, we excuse his behavior, accommodate his repeated outbursts, turn a blind eye to his innate brutality. We soon come to realize that he is most destructive with our things, our precious keepsakes turned to dust beneath the heel of his boot. Our patience waning, we grow increasingly firm in our tough-love stance, condemning his actions, waiting for him to hit rock bottom.
Yet it’s us who bash against the rocks ahead of him, provide a soft cushion to absorb the
blow, this arguably the intent from the outset, our role in the system cemented by the sands of time. After all, it has never been the pan’s place to indict the flame for its heat. The pan has been bred to take the flame’s licks, the cushiony flesh of the privileged son held safe in the callused palms of our hands, our melanin, our thick skin a Teflon coating sent to spare his hide.
So, no, the system hasn’t failed, it worked expertly to protect the psyche of those for whom the system was intended. Imagine for a second had the press conference gone the opposite way, calling all those blameless faces to account, a land full of bastard seeds forced to own up to their wrong deeds. It is far easier to protect the status quo. Stand by the accused, his behavior rationalized by a prevailing system of belief: vilify a people, promote a deep seated fear of its sons and daughters, prey on its young then claim self defense.
The press conference went precisely as planned, a hundred days spent behind closed doors incubating the message, its converts receiving the word like it was gospel truth, their heads nodding in solemn agreement–no suspicion of guilt, case closed (case never entered). The decision not to indict another peace officer to send yet another defenseless human being to his grave is more of the same. Now go out into the world. Cast an eye upon the least among you, endure their protests, anticipate their rioting and looting–‘frustrated youth stuck in their ways’ (Jay-Z, Renegade). Take it as further evidence that justice, blind to your iniquities, has been served. Believe it to the core of your being. Wash
your hands in this belief, absolve yourself of sin. And, above all else, never give up the lie. For the lie, institutionalized for years upon years gone by, it shall set you free.
JEDAH MAYBERRY is an emerging fiction writer, born in New York, raised in southeastern CT, the backdrop for his fiction debut released March 2013 by River Grove Books. The book was named 1st in Multi-Cultural Fiction for 2014 by the Texas Association of Authors. Jedah was a top ten finalist for the 2013 Best New Author Award sponsored by the National Black Book Festival. He garnered honorable mention in Glimmer Train’s April 2012 Family Matters Short Story Contest for Ton Oncle, a version of which was published as part of the book. His work has appeared at Flashing for Kicks, EtherBooks, Linden Avenue, and The Snippet App. He is a regular contributor to The Good Men Project. He currently resides with his wife and teenage daughters in Austin, TX.