Raw and uncut response to the white boys behind me at a play.
I went to the play, “Monster,” last week. It’s the story of a 16 year old charged with felony murder who was acting as a lookout for a robbery gone wrong. I won’t tell you the end, but I will tell you what the two white boys behind me thought (whether it was in agreement of the actual ending or not – so as not to be a spoil-alert).
“He should be charged. He’s clearly guilty.”
He was a lookout for a robbery and someone was shot unintentionally. While he was guilty to that. Did you really just say his guiltiness in a robbery should allow for a state prosecutor to charge him with felony murder as an adult at 16 years old?
I turned around and reminded them, “He was an accomplice to something. He did not commit felony murder. He was an accomplice to a robbery. People are getting higher-stakes crimes slapped on them to make others feel that justice was served. And they’re still doing it today. It’s sad.”
Apparently they were shocked by the girl sitting in front of them who was hearing their conversation and added her two cents. I would have been too – I hate it when that happens…. no one asked you.
Yet I felt, in my soul, it was my legal duty as a fellow white person to help them see something different, then pray that they never become attorneys. They got quiet, and I realized how rude that was, but didn’t regret my decision at all. What I regretted as I walked away was not thinking quicker on my feet. What I really wanted to say was –
“He was an accomplice to a robbery. Someone died. He could be charged with intent to rob, but felony murder is a huge jump, but it sounds good to you because you will never know the experience of a false accusation against you because you are white.”
“Do you know ANYONE who has been locked up for crimes done by other people while they were simply nearby and it ruined their life with felonies? Stop talking.”
“Did he kill someone? Was his intent to even kill someone? You could have only rightfully charged this young man with intent to a robbery, and if we are talking about charging people based on intentions, let’s talk about our intent as a white race to not change our comfort or mindsets while inflated convictions with a lifetime of unnecessary consequences are being placed on young black men based on a judgment of their character connected with the color of their skin.”
I wish I thought quicker on my feet.