Category: Justice


Dear George


Dear George,

I am writing this today, because I can no longer bite my tongue. I thought I could remain silent after the trial…but I see that I cannot; not after watching your video. I understand it must be difficult when you feel like the whole world doesn’t know you and you are being judged. It must be difficult trying to find employment and real friends; but since you don’t seem to understand it…I wanted to sit down with you a moment and try and make sense out of it.

…It was a rainy night; not too much rain…but just enough that the teenager had difficulty seeing things clearly. It was just a snack; something to hold him over throughout the night…not a big deal. As he left the store, he put his hood on, so he wouldn’t get wet. His mom was always getting on him for going out in the rain and waking up sick the next day. Since he was at his dad’s house, he didn’t want his mom to get mad at him too.

He looked up and noticed a vehicle that seemed unfamiliar. It drove slowly by; maybe he thought I was someone he knew… the child said to himself. He called his best friend joking with her and noticed the SUV driving past again; he made a sidebar joke with his bestie…and kept walking. He begins to get nervous; the vehicle rides past again slowly…looking…lurking…yet no word is spoken.

The child’s heart starts beating faster. His mouth salivating, as his nervousness increases. He must make sure that this person isn’t after him; so he runs down random streets to try and lose him. Again the mysterious vehicle follows him. He knows that he could run straight to his dad’s house and be safe, but then the stranger would know where he lived and worse where his family lived.

His palms begin to get sweaty; he knows that this guy needs to confront him…these situations never turn out good. The man gets out of the vehicle and starts to approach. You could hear the voice on the cell phone screaming…as the phone fell to the ground…Trayvon, Trayvon…are you there?…

 

George, I know you have your own version of what happened that night…and unfortunately, your version is the only one that we will know.

I watched you in court. I looked for a person who was truly sorry for what happened. I sought a person who felt that the killing of a teenager was a horrible outcome of this story. I did not find that person in your eyes.

You stated recently that people don’t know the real you; and that other than what they have seen in regards to this case, they don’t know you…at all. You even stated, in defense of the, “He’s a racist”, claim; that you had been mentoring a black child. I hope that you understand what an insult that is. I always find humor with people that say…”I’m not prejudiced…I have a black friend”. You would probably be better served to not do that again.

I do have some loving advice for you; as I feel compelled to reach out to you. Don’t get me wrong…regardless of what the state of Florida says…I think that you are guilty. I think that you should have been punished…someone died. That someone had a name, an address…he had a family and because of your actions…he also had a funeral.

I think that the largest injustice that was done, in your defense, was to make Trayvon Martin appear to be the assailant. The media and your legal team made an issue, out of the fact, that Trayvon had been suspended from school for having trace amounts of marijuana in his book back. They made issue out of the fact that he had tattoos. They made issue out of the fact that he had gold teeth and that he made a video showing gang signs. They even made issue out of the fact that Sabrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, chose to use pictures of her son at an earlier age.

I digress…let’s get back to you and what is really important.

If you want the world to see you differently…stop signing autographs at gun shows. This does not say that you have any compassion or empathy for a nation that is mourning the loss of this child. Volunteer at a children’s shelter, read books to kids at a library, and show the world that you regret what you did.

It’s okay, you can’t be prosecuted again. Clear your soul…tell the truth. Do not write a book about how you have it so hard, because of the trial. You have it hard because you killed someone and the world noticed. You have it hard, because even you, don’t think that you are innocent…and your soul is torturing you.

Understand that your words…will not bring back that wonderful child. His family will miss him for the rest of their lives. And while you are making statements about living in poverty and having no friends…the Martin family…has one less place to set at dinner. They have to find a way to go on living without their son…while you still get to breathe.

You are still alive…I would offer to you this: make the most out of your moments. Do not spend an ounce of your day feeling sorry for your situation. Starting today do something different; stop looking out for George…and look out for someone else. Volunteer…or better yet; I would suggest that you go to a meeting for parents whose children have been killed. Stay and listen to their stories…let it soak in. Pray. I only hope, that in that prayer that you will really understand the brevity of what you have done. You will know if it did…because you will no longer be singing the “What about me” song.

I pray that our Creator will be merciful with you…in your growth. I cannot hate you…while my emotions may scream for it…I know that hate is something that my soul refuses to do. I do hate what happened. I pray every day that no other family will have to bury their child too soon. I pray that we realize that a tattoo, skin tone, and/or drug use…does not make any of this okay.

George, I will leave you with one more thought: In your journey for understanding…look deeper into yourself; work on the man that you want to become…and seek forgiveness. The anger and frustration you feel…does not come from any place other than within.

 

Peace be upon you

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Our Savior’s Light


Do not confuse what I say
When I speak of divine light
It’s not about being black
It’s not about being white

It’s about knowledge of God
Not about racial unrest
For try as we may
We still fail to do our best

We may make excuses for
The differences we do share
But when did that have to be
The reason we don’t care

After all I didn’t decide
The tone of my skin
Was more important than
The woman I am within

How can a predetermined factor
Tell you how dangerous I can be
If I was a different race
Wouldn’t I still be me?

I don’t know when my skin
Became more important than my soul
But if you get hung up on it
You’ll miss more than you know

Light is about our Creator
Not about good nor bad
It’s about the blessings
The greatest gifts we’ve ever had

It’s the reason we were sent here
Not the thing that we see
It’s why we were chosen
Why we were meant to be

Light is about the path
Our own predestined way
It’s about the time we spend
Each and every day

Do we spend it wisely
Or do we waste it to death
Can we love one another
Or am I wasting my breath?

Because my hopes for man are high
I believe the violence can end
When you stop looking for my faults
And accept me as a friend

For everywhere the light touches
All places every where else
Is where God …he lives
We need to remind ourselves

Children are God’s gift
Yet we cast them aside
We bury them too soon
Today another died

Our women are battered
Victims of a loved ones abuse
How can she ever heal
It’s her heart that’s been bruised

Give God’s love with purpose
Whether it be day or night
Fill hearts with the warmth
Found in our Savior’s light

Building Bridges


   There are people that will come in and out of our lives…and while we may notice there absence, it is my hope that we will not miss the lesson in the experience. We are often saddened by the loss, whether it is through death or people just moving forward. It is my hope that with this we can eventually rally around what they contributed to our lives…be it something profound…or something as simple as teaching us to laugh at the things that don’t kill us. 

   Laughing at adversity allows us to own whatever the stimulus might be…it makes us pro-active instead of reactive. Most people consider reactions to mean we were caught off guard…where as being pro-active infers that we were always ready for anything that may come our way. It gives us strength in the eyes of others…and re-instills the ideas that we are blessed and highly favored. Who doesn’t feel more secure with the knowledge that we are not alone?

  Life can definitely send some jabs and upper cuts our way…but the question is simple…are we so busy trying to patch up the injury that we no longer are looking for the next blow? Did we learn the lesson? There are those people who just sit and wait for the opportunity to present itself…and the opportunity usually tends to be isolation.

   You may say that you aren’t isolated…but let’s re-examine that thought. You may be physically surrounded with numerous people…you have more contacts in your cell phone than most people get holiday cards from…but are you free of isolation? It’s is ironic that these people are called contacts…yet very few actually touch us.

   What is isolation? Generally speaking, isolation occurs when a person sets themselves apart or cuts themselves off from others. You might still think that you don’t do this…but do you? How many people on your contact list…are you truly touched by; keeping in mind that “contact” generally means the state or condition of touching?

   Do you isolate yourself from what happens around you? Do you turn off the news or ignore news articles about things that you find disturbing or negative? Many people do. It can be emotionally taxing to watch how others suffer everyday…perhaps looking the other way will allow us to go on with our day, at least. Who really wants to read or watch stories about homelessness, or crime? Who wants to hear day and day out about the famine in Horn of Africa…and who can bear to see those poor children dying? We have our own problems…and I do not think for one moment that people who think this way are callous or uncaring. They are human. But they are humans who have chosen to isolate themselves.

   Why do you think that so many people rallied around the recently executed Troy Davis? After all, he was found guilty of killing Mark MacPhail…why did he deserve any support? My best guess is this; Troy Davis…showed us that people are not expendable. I don’t think that anyone was supporting a murderer…they were supporting a human being. People gathered together by the groves…to unite for a common cause…to love their fellow man. Troy Anthony Davis woke people up. He made us look at our justice system with clarity…as if we had been walking around in a daze for centuries. Even if for just that moment…we didn’t want to isolate people. We actually wanted contact. We wanted people to know us…and us them.

  From this…conversations started…not just angry debates…but calm intellectual conversations. We started talking about everything! We wanted to know more. If you had a situation that was causing your frustration…I wanted to know about it. Your life began to matter to me. Even if for just one moment…we started remembering that we are supposed to love each other. Inadvertently, we began to “Occupy our Hearts”. The ice around our veins began to slowly melt. It was beautiful.

  Troy Davis reminded us that true justice will only occur when balancement exists. When the scales are tilted…it does not solve anything. He reminded us that only when we live in a society where we are not prejudged for some physical, financial, or religious difference will true justice happen.

  Ultimately, if we were to try and say that these biases do not exist…we are only further proving the fact that we are living in isolation.

  When this world was created…it was populated with living organisms that were molded to our Creator’s liking. We were chosen to live here…and we were chosen because we are all compatible. We can all live here harmoniously…if we so choose. Our problem has never been that we are not being able to love each other; the only problem is our own pre-conceived notions that we are better than another being. We are highly evolved creatures…we have learned how to communicate…we have invented machines to make life simpler. We have sent man and woman into space. We have raised children who would become future diplomats and literal geniuses. Yet we are the only living organisms that refuse to live together…without trying to destroy each other. There are millions of species of animals…that get along better than we do. And we will be the ONLY group of living organisms…who place themselves on the endangered species list. We would rather kill each other off into distinction than to learn how to live harmoniously.

  This is not the end of our story…but if we don’t make changes…it very well could be. Love life…make changes…say hello to someone you have never met. Hold a door open for a complete stranger…get to know your neighbors. Embrace your differences…you might learn something that will enhance your life. You may touch another person by just smiling at them. Encourage the conversation; offer each other loving solutions to a world full of problems. Take the initiative; it is what God has been waiting for all along. If we spend more time building bridges…we can spend less time building prisons.

The Long and Winding Road


The Long and Winding Road

 

  Growing up I often heard the expression…not to choose is to choose. The meaning of which became much more clear as I aged and matured.

  How often had I heard some one say that they were angered or frustrated with a situation and yet did nothing? Often we decide to sit the fence about issues…so to speak. We may feel a certain way about something, yet we take no stand. It is unfortunate that we don’t understand…when we fail to take a stand…we already did.

  We may say that we are against slavery…yet if we do nothing to stop the enslavement…we are silently approving the action. True, it may not be easy to stand up against those who are seemingly in the majority…but what are we REALLY saying…by saying nothing…by taking no stand?

  We are saying…it is okay. We are lending our support to those that we may very well be opposed to. We may say that we do not support the destruction of our planet…but unless we are willing to stand up for the world around us…our well wishes…will always fall upon deaf ears.

  It takes bravery to speak openly against those that oppress us…and often those people are targeted as troublemakers. I almost laugh at those statements…because I personally know one of those troublemakers. I have watched and heard her young heart standing up for what she believes is right or wrong in this life. I have seen people try to muffle her cries for justice…with laughter or jokes, hoping to discourage her candor. But I promise you that this angel is only fueled by any opposition. She is never deterred by society’s criticisms…she keeps her head held high and marches on. She is strong and vigilant…she will stand up even when she feels she is under attack. She always makes her position known…regardless of the viewpoint or perception of others. I have seen her defend the life of a tree more passionately than I have seen men or women defend their fellow man.

  In mid conversation, she will say that it is wrong for the state to kill someone…to prove that killing is wrong. The act in itself emphasizes the “do as I say and not as I do” idea. Even before Troy Davis, the Georgia man who was executed Sept 21, 2011…for the death of an off duty police officer; as a fifteen year old girl…my daughter was debating the death penalty with educators. Did she have some information that we didn’t? No, she simply didn’t need anyone to tell her that killing is wrong. She didn’t seek or desire direction on this matter…she just always knew that loving our fellow man was our primary objective. To put it in her own words…how can our parents teach us that we are not supposed to fight…and that turning the other cheek is what God wants from us. Yet…we send our nation to war. It may seem like an over simplification to some…but again, in her words…wrong is wrong…no matter how many words you dress it up with.

  This young woman is one of my personal heroes. She has won no awards…there have been no stories written about her…outside of my own efforts. She has no National Holiday…but she sings her song of justice loudly…to anyone who will listen. She hasn’t prevented a war…she hasn’t stopped famine or the ongoing problems that we have created for ourselves. But everyday she will tell people openly that the man in the mirror is the change needed. For our reflection is who we are…not who we may think we are. We have a voice…we choose when and where to use it.

  As a society, we have chosen to be led. Growing up; we are told how to behave. Where to sit or stand…who to be nice to…what to wear; the problem is that we are now conditioned. We are conditioned to believe that we need permission to do what we already know is right. It is this conditioning that causes us to allow the destructive actions and decisions of others. No one is dictating to us what we should be doing…so we do nothing. As if we need permission to carry out the work of God.

  What I am saying is that the truths we were taught as children…theses still are true today. The fact is that the TRUTH….always will be TRUE. It is the one constant in our lives. Life can be like a long and winding road…seemingly endless; but the path is the one we have always known.

  We were created to love one another…and with love, comes peace. There can be no negative in that…for the basis of love and peace…comes from our Creator.

  Taking a stand can be hard…but masking who we really are in our silence…is a crime against our nature. Stand up for those that have no voice…be the voice of reason and justice…like our fore fathers before us. Be what we teach our children to be…every day. Lead by example…love by choice…be the humanity we seek in others.

 

A Lesson Before Dying


A Lesson Before Dying

 

Perry Cobb, Darby Williams Tillis, Joseph Burrows, Rolando Cruz, Alejandro Hernandez, Verneal Jimerson, Dennis Williams, Gary Gauger, Carl Lawson, Anthony Porter, Steven Smith, Ronald Jones, Steve Manning, Aaron Patterson, Madison Hobley, Leroy Orange, Stanley Howard, Gordon Steidl, Walter McMillan, Randall Padgett, James Bo Cochran, Gary Drinkard, Wesley Quick, Larry Osborne, Johnny Ross, Curtis Kyles, Shareef Cousin, Michael Graham, Albert Burell, John Thompson, Dan L. Bright, Ryan Matthews, Kirk Bloodsworth, Lawyer Johnson, Peter Limone, Laurence Adams, Sabrina Butler, Clarence Dexter  Jr., Eric Clemmons, Joseph Amrine, Jeremy Sheets, Roberto Miranda, Thomas Gladish, Richard Greer, Ronald Keine, Clarence Smith, Samuel A. Poole, Christopher Spicer, Timothy Hennis, Alfred Rivera, Alan Gell, Gary Beeman, Dale Johnson, Charles Ray Gidden, Clifford Henry Bowen, Richard, Neal Jones, Gregory R. Wilhoit, Adolph Munson, Robert Lee Miller Jr., Ronald Williamson, Neil Faber, Jay C. Smith, William Nieves, Thomas Kimbell Jr., Nicholas Yarris, Harold Wilson, Michal Linder, Warren Douglas Manning, Vernon McManus, Randall Dale Adams, Clarence Bradley, John C. Skelton, Frederico M. Macias, Muneer Deeb, Ricardo Aldape Guerral, Ernest Ray Willis, Earl Washington, Benjamin Harris Jerry Bigelow, Patrick Croy, Troy Lee Jones, Jonathon Treadway, John Henry Knapp, Jimmy Lee Mathers, James Robison, Robert Charles, Ray Krone, David Keaton, Wlbert Lee, Freddie Pitts, Delbert Tibbs, Annibal Jaramillo, Anthony Brown, Joseph Green Brown, Anthony Ray Peek, Juan Ramos, Willie Brown, Larry Troy, Robert Cox, James Richardson, Bradley P. Scott, Andrew Golden, Robert Hayes, Joseph Nahume Green, Frank Lee Smith, Joaquin Jose Martinez, Juan Roberto Melendez, Rudolph Holton, John Ballard, Herman Lindsey, James Creamer, and Earl Charles.

  These are my reasons for being against the Death Penalty…all of these names are real people. And these real people have/had real families…that stood by the them while they were on death row. Collectively these individuals served 964 Years, before being proven to be innocent. And one of these individuals served 33 years before being released; while another died before he could be exonerated…so it was done post mortem. But to take even 1 day away from some one, who was not guilty, is tragic. Life is full of one time experiences…you only take your first step one time, lose your first tooth, say mama or dada, you can only buy your first car…one time. And many of these individuals missed so much more than that, and it can never be given back to them. Even if the state compensates some one monetarily for the lost time…you can not purchase a memory.

  Why am I against the death penalty? I am against anything that includes taking another life. I am against any system that has proven time and time again to be broken and unreliable. I am against anything that takes away years upon years of a person’s life for no reason. Killing is wrong…it says that in many different places, even in religious books. And to kill some one to show society that killing is wrong…just seems to be completely ridiculous to me.

  If the Death Penalty is such an effective means of punishment, why don’t all states use it? If the Death Penalty is such a deterrent for crime…why are we still executing?

  If we were able to catch this many people before their respective states were able to execute them…how many slipped through the cracks? How many innocent people have we killed…for the sake of punishing some one…anyone? How do we sleep at night?

  I can completely understand the grief that losing a loved one can cause. I can understand wanting to punish some one for the crime…but will just ANYONE do? The problem being quite simple…the statistics do not lie…race and money are contributing factors when the death penalty is imposed. I researched in several places…and basically all of them verify what the others says…minorities and the underprivileged make up the majority of inmates on death row.

  We are human, we make mistakes…I simply think that with that knowledge…we risk executing people who are innocent. And no matter what anyone says…one life wasted is too many. Not only for the people who are actually executed…but look at the people who have spent countless years away from their loved ones for a crime that they did not commit.

  It is my expressed opinion that anytime some one finds reason to applaud about a state that has killed 234 more inmates than any other state…there may be a deeper problem there. And any politician that finds applause about this humorous…is a dangerous individual; it is never a victory when some one dies…we all lose.

  Killing some one will not make the victim come back to us…they are in peace. So the execution is for us…and what peace is there when we are taking another life? Why would we desire that another family to go through the same pain and anguish that we have?

  There was an inmate in Texas that was executed this past Summer, Mark Anthony Stroman, who was convicted of killing individuals out of grief for the life of his sister who was killed on 9/11. One of the survivors, a muslim man who Stroman shot in the face Rais Bhuiyan, causing him to be blind in one eye, pleaded for Stroman’s life. Mr. Bhuiyan even started a website to try and spare Mr. Stroman’s life, www.worldwithouthate.org.  This was a remarkable exhibit of forgiveness and compassion…only furthering my belief that we can seek revenge or seek a higher power. And even though Mr. Stroman’s life was not spared, the spirit of what Mr. Bhuiyan did spoke in volumes.

  I realize there will be many people that will disagree with my stand on the death penalty, but I stand firm on this issue…killing is wrong no matter who does it.

 

 

 

 

Not In My Name


   On September 21, 2011 at 11:08 PM, Troy Davis was killed by the state of Georgia…even though he may not have been guilty…BUT…

                                                                   NOT IN MY NAME

 3239 people in the United States are currently under a death sentence…BUT…

                                                                    NOT IN MY NAME

 Since 1976, 1269 men, women, children, and mentally ill people have been SHOT, HANGED, ASPHYXIATED, LETHALLY INJECTED, and ELECTROCUTED by the state and the federal government of the United States…BUT…

                                                                    NOT IN MY NAME

 

 Alabama is the only state in our country where a trial judge can override a life sentence and convert it to a death sentence. And approximately 21% of Alabama’s death row was converted to the death penalty from a life sentence by a trial judge….BUT…

                                                                   NOT IN MY NAME

 

 The United States is currently one of the top countries, in regards to executing inmates…BUT…

                                                             I WILL NOT TURN MY HEAD

 No one has the right to take another life…it is wrong. How do we know it is wrong? Because we are executing people to teach them that killing is wrong…and yet the lesson escapes us. We do not have the right to kill another human being. And please keep in mind…some of those human beings…were exonerated after they were already executed and laid in the ground to rest.

  I heard someone say the night that Troy Davis was killed…”An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. We cannot change what has happened, no amount of prayers, rallies, parades, or interviews will change what has been done. But we get to choose if the deaths were in vain…we get to stand tall and speak up. If we forget what happened, then we learned nothing from it. The facts are simple…it is more expensive to execute an inmate than to imprison him /her for life. And the death penalty has not deterred crime one bit…or we wouldn’t have anyone to execute. Finally, please never say it could not happen to anyone you know or love. Our system of justice is seriously lacking…if you are a minority or poor in this country, no matter what anyone tells you…you are guilty until proven innocent 9 times out of 10.

 

   Today I ask that you stand with me…not to protect murderers…but to end the death penalty. We are becoming the thing that we hate…we must make a change. THE DEATH PENALTY MUST BE ABOLISHED.

I take this pledge because human rights and human lives are on the line.

 

 http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/site/c.6oJCLQPAJiJUG/b.7741827/k.62FF/Not_in_my_Name_Pledge/apps/ka/ct/contactus.asp?c=6oJCLQPAJiJUG&b=7741827&en=dmIPI6PPJcIYLgOSLbKULiM9LvL9KmN4LtI9LqNaIAK

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