By Sacchi Patel, M.S.
My Twitter timeline over the last few days has been bombarded with two very familiar hash-tags: #TooMuchDoubt and #TroyDavis.
Fellow activists had much to say about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to murder Troy Davis. Murder. What really is the difference between execution and murder?
Well technically, an execution or capital punishment comes from Latin origins meaning “of or regarding the head” which was intended to sever the head of those being punished in this ultimate form. Well, we’re using barbiturates and electric chairs, so that quickly gets ruled out.
What is the real difference? Capital Punishment has great power and privilege behind it. Our nation’s leaders are allowed to hide behind the facade of justice while exercising their most elitist, racist, sexist, ableist, classist, actions — once again proving that social justice will never be easy to achieve.
I have no desire to talk much about the actual details of this case. To me, they aren’t important at the moment. The man is dead. There is no going back now, nor is that actually the focus of all the activists who have been speaking out on Twitter.
It’s more about the fact that there has been a public uproar claiming Troy Davis might not be guilty, however the sincerest of protests have gone unanswered. In fact, several students at Howard University were arrested for speaking out.
It also must be noted that at first I almost entitled this blog: How to Get Away With Murder?: Being the U.S. Supreme Court. I chose not to go this route after I took a couple deep breaths, turned off CNN, and tried to figure out what was most important for me to write about.
Further, it also cannot go unmentioned considering our nation’s rich history of racism (both blatant and covert) that Troy Davis is [was] an incarcerated Black man within our penal system. That is a highly charged and heavy statement when we think about all of those identities and what that means for our judicial system.
There are many concerned folks now learning that the hash-tag #TroyDavis has been blocked from becoming a “trending topic” on Twitter Wednesday night. This is how powerful our system of hatred and oppression is. Not sold? Oh, #youknowyoughetto did, however, make it to the top of the trending topics, and may continue to be there when you read this post.
Finally, what is the role that masculinity plays in this discussion? As American men, we are taught that the death penalty is something that stands for the ultimate form of justice. Judges, lawyers, police, etc. (all whom have historically been men) that encounter accused folks are subject to this school of thought. A school of thought that stands for patriotism somehow being correlated with capital punishment.
Being relentless and making others pay for what they have done can been seen in various images of masculinity in our culture. It is extremely vital for men to speak out about these type of injustices. We’ve somehow inflated a category entitled “women’s issues” to encompass and embody everything that all humans should care about and be invested in. Men however, have been taught and socialized to stay far away from these issues.
Let’s speak up about watching our own die (not to mention while possibly being innocent). It hasn’t been masculine to talk about death and injustice. Let’s change that.
Sacchi Patel, M.S. September 2011. Morristown, NJ.