Last week I made the decision not to mention Troy Davis in my blog. This week, however, I feel the need to make a desultory remark or two. So random are my words that I am thinking about the law and morality. A bad move, I know. But I can’t help it:
Despite my overall pessimism and general belief that this country will rarely, if ever, do the right thing, the hours I spent watching Democracy Now!’s fantastic coverage of the Troy Davis case last Thursday evening revealed that occasionally a modicum of hope that dwells underneath a crusty armor of curmudgeonly discontent emerges just long enough to be thoroughly crushed before I can toss it back into its secret hiding place. In other words, by 11:09 last Thursday evening, I was totally shook.
They killed Troy Davis. And those who had the power to stop it did not.
After the Supreme Court decided that the travesty of justice would go on, the last hope I had was that maybe a prison guard would say no and that such an act of courage would spread. Yet I understand that such an act would have required the sacrifice of one’s livelihood. That kind of heroism should not be necessary. When those in power refuse to do the right thing, how can one expect those who are more immediately vulnerable to model the kind of moral courageousness we’d wish to see in our leaders?
The Obama Administration should have said–done?–something, instead of hiding behind the veil of civility. Such problem solving is beyond the pay grade of a beer summit, I suppose. So nevermind. (And yes, we should be “unfair” to Obama by questioning him about this. Because if you can conveniently embrace blackness as an election strategy, then you need embrace everything about it–including the “burden.”)
If saying nothing about state sanctioned injustice is, and my friend Ashon noted, an act of civility, then perhaps it is time for us to act “inappropriate and uncivil” (terms that, interestingly, are often associated with black people, anyway). Clearly, civility–and respectability–hasn’t gotten folks very far.
They killed Troy Davis.
But there are more Troy Davises waiting to be executed. And all those death sentences are wrong. They are cruel. They are unusual. And there are many others who did, indeed, commit the crimes that landed them on death row. And all those death sentences are wrong. They are cruel. They are unusual.
And I am again drawn to the idea of a nihilism for Negroes because, again, it seems like the only thing that makes sense. How else can my brain process the meaning of all this trouble in the world?