Inequality Under the Law

Before falling asleep last night I -surprise- watched a movie.

No, not a Turner Classic, but a Netflix film starring Jeremy Renner called “Wind River.”

In it he plays a Fish and Wildlife services tracker helping an FBI agent ( Elizabeth Olsen) hunt an 18-year-old woman living on a Wyoming reservation and gone missing. He has found her body, and they are searching for her killers.

While chilling, the story told didn’t get to me nearly as much as the statistic cited at the end.

It stated that “While missing person statistics are compiled for every other demographic, none exist for Native American women.”

Think about it. As a country, we are saying that a class of citizen is so lacking in value to us, we do not care what happens to them.

This movie wasn’t made in 1917, but in 2017. Just one year ago.

This morning on my Twitter feed,  I was treated to the photo of a 10-year-old boy, crying and handcuffed in front of a police car unnecessarily.  He was “misidentified” by police.  He was black.

As I write this, Republicans on Capitol Hill have finished a conference on DACA.  They remain as split on what should be done to remedy this issue as ever.  Some cannot abide a pathway to citizenship for young people of brown color who have been raised and educated here, who consider this country their home and who have much to contribute to its future.  All because they are brown and their parents risked everything to give them opportunities they themselves never had by crossing a border.

Yes, yesterday Alice Marie Johnson, a black woman incarcerated for life for a first time drug offense, received a Presidential commutation of sentence that freed her to join her family.

But only because a famous white woman with the cachet to get into the White House pled her case, not because the Trump Administration has come up with a comprehensive plan for a prison  system so broken it perhaps should be razed and rebuilt.

And only because a rich white man – Charles Kushner – committed a crime that cost him a few years in prison and his privileged son, Jared – who happens to be the President’s son-in-law – also pled the case because he feels his father was unjustly found guilty. Ergo Jared has a new- found passion for prison reform that had his own father not been jailed would probably not even register with him.

I have read enough history not to have illusions ours is a perfect country. It never has been.  It never will be.

But I have always believed that we are a country that strives in each generation to be better than we were. To be more democratic in our principles, more inclusive in our lifestyle, more dedicated to the proposition that every person has the right to be treated with dignity, compassion and equality.

I just wish our country were being led by a President who believed in these things too.




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