On the one hand I think it’s interesting and hopeful that white people (because POC don’t need another lesson) are personally identifying with the horrific injustice of Mr. Davis’ case, and that they are mobilizing. That they are recognizing how racially unequal the justice and prison system is, in general. For every Troy Davis we hear about there are hundreds and thousands that we don’t.
On the other hand we white folks really aren’t Troy Davis. We white folks are the governor who refused clemency, the parole board that disallowed the polygraph, we are the DA that pushed for prosecution based on little to no evidence in an attempt to placate the politicians, we are the cops who coerce testimonies and confessions and statements, we make false claims about ‘black men in ski masks’ stealing our babies because we know the white cops will more readily believe us.
And it’s for that reason, white folks, that black folks are justifiably cranky about you saying ‘I Am Troy Davis’. It’s ignorant. It’s insulting. Most importantly, it’s a useless maneuver around the the truth, and around the ultimate point.
Because white folks, we really aren’t Troy Davis. The likelihood that what happened to Troy Davis would ever happen to a college educated white man is slim to none; a young white man convicted of a capital murder with no weapon, no dna and no fingerprints? Are you kidding me? Wouldn’t happen.
We are the executioners, the institutions, the media and the system. That, however does not mean there isn’t power and hope in acknowledging that position. It is in that role that we have the ability to change the ideology and ignorance that fuels those structures that failed him so completely; We can refuse to continue enabling the racism and fear and ignorance that these corrupt systems are built on.
I’m not Troy Davis, and you, upper middle class white bro in your Prius on the way to the Odd Future show, are not Troy Davis either. Co-opting the part of ‘victimized and oppressed’ because you feel awful about it, changes nothing. I feel bad about it too. It is incomprehensible and maddening and scary and tragic, and it’s not the world I want to live in. But the problem here is that if I wanted to hold a picture in front of my face as some grand gesture, it would be more honest to hold the picture of the executioner. The bad public defender. The judges, the juries. It’s our own biases and ignorance that allowed him to be convicted on such flimsy evidence in the first place.
Is that embarrassing and humiliating and distressing? Yep. But that’s something I have to take responsibility for. We have to.
Only in taking responsibility for how fucked up this system is, as a member of the privileged, historically oppressive group that created and maintained the system that allowed this to happen, can things change.
I am the privileged and I refuse to let this continue.
White people, come get your folks.