Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Black History Month

My work has been promoting Black History Month all month long with different activities like weekly quizes, an art exhibit, and today a presentation on African Americans and Criminal Justice. It was a reminder to me of how far our society has come, and yet how far there is still to go in providing equality in the criminal justice system. A large portion of the presentation was on the difficulty in assembling a jury of one's peers for African Americans. The majority of jury's are white and can't relate to some experiences of African Americans, and a majority of the justice system (judges, attorneys, law enforcement) are white.

Here is a link to a 10-minute documentary on the jury process called "Juror Number Six". It gave me a lot to think about in regards to the biases faced as a juror and whether any one person can truely be prejudice-free.

My take-home from the presentation was that injustice still occurs today in the African American community, they face prejudice from the law enforcement level to the prosecution level. It's important to be aware of these injustices and recognize them as real issues, serve as a juror when the opportunity arises, and recognize that we all have biases.

Here's a funny clip they couldn't show during the presentation but suggested we take a look at. It's the Kings of Comedy and Cedric the Entertainer jokes about African Americans and running. The truth behind the joke is that when people in the African American community run away from police, often it's not because they are guilty or have done anything wrong, but it's something that they've learned - it's best to avoid dealing with the police all together.

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