Tag Archives: We are all Troy Davis

Things Fall Apart…Belief & The Power of Change

Yesterday was a heavy day for me as I was psychologically burdened by the weight of my frustrations about the Troy Davis case and the state of things. I actually felt disconnected from myself, because all the things that are usually on the forefront of my mind vanished into the mist – so I did nothing. Nothing but feel clouded and muffled….it was a stormy day.

Not content to wallow in hopelessness, I took my angst to the Net. I was looking for information on the movement to stop the death penalty and was overcome with a burning compulsion to find out what I could do. 

When I talk to people so often what I hear is not that they don’t care about politics or injustice, but that they do not believe that caring means anything. What point is there to caring if there is nothing you can do about it? The polls call them the Undecided but it would be more accurate to call them the Unbelievers. The general feeling is that they are just one person against a mountain of money, corporations, politicians and a system rife with corruption, racism, greed and indifference.

In such a world, isn’t it better to keep your head down? Better to worry about your own life because nothing you do will ultimately matter?

I have never been a person who accepted that way of thinking. It’s comfortable and familiar for many but it’s not the way I choose to live my life. Not just because caring about others comes naturally to me, but because such  acceptance is a kind of spiritual death. That’s what arises when you feel powerless and at the mercy of your environment.

I am positive that my resistance is spiritually and historically based. Think of all the people who have gone before who have manged to effect real change in the world and where we would be if they too were Unbelievers. Thoughts of my ancestors, what they sacrificed, and how they struggled, is all that’s required to inject me with a passionate belief that change is possible.

Our world mirrors the imperfections of the human race and I have no doubt that it always will. But one of the key differences between us and animals is our ability, at any given point in time, to reject our teachings, surroundings and harness the power of mental and spiritual evolution which is the impetus for change. Without it, we would be dead already.

I will admit that this train of thought was not uppermost in my mind yesterday but being on the Net changed all that. What began as a simple foray into finding out about the death penalty movement ended with me bleary eyed at 2:45 AM. I found a trail of bread crumbs and it led me from one site to another and another and another.

I read about the history of the death penalty and found organizations like Amnesty International, Color Of ChangeCampaign To End The Death Penalty and Democracy Now. I found the website for Troy Davis, read articles from tons of newspapers and Opinion Blogs. I also watched The Egyptian Revolution video (below) which brought me to tears. Many thanks to my Twitter Community for their uplifting and insightful comments and leading the way.

I ended the day on the Occupy Wall Street site and what I saw amazed me. The movement, now in it’s sixth day, is receiving little or no mainstream media coverage which of course reminded me of Gil Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” It is largely made up of college students, so they say, and has engendered international support. The world is watching and cheering us on.

I read through 172 comments last night, which were remarkably free of hate messages, containing advice from every quarter, lawyers, older activists who understand the politics of revolution, and everyday folks. They gave REAL advice, legal and otherwise. It was uplifting and empowering and reminded me of just what can be done when we stand together to right a wrong. Better yet, they reminded me of the beauty, diversity and power of the human race. They gave me hope and a renewed belief which I so sorely needed.

The power of the Internet is not routers, servers, fiber optics or the cloud. It is the power of connection that allows human beings to connect with one another and draw strength from one another and celebrate our humanity.

Note: The title of this post is humbly borrowed from the book entitled “Things Fall Apart” by famed author Chinua Achebe.

A Stain Upon Our Nation – RIP Troy Davis

Troy Anthony Davis

October 9, 1968 – September 21, 2011

Funeral Donations

When the announcement came through last night that the U.S. Supreme Court would not grant a stay of execution for Troy Anthony Davis I was inconsolable. I cried and fought against my feelings of anger and hopelessness and when I woke up this morning it was the first thing that came to mind.

It makes NO sense to me that with the preponderance of doubt in this case that the justice system proceeded, mercilessly and inexorably, while a potentially innocent man was led to his death. If a case where 7 of 9 eyewitnesses recanted partial, or in some cases, complete reversal of their original testimonies, doesn’t deserve a retrial – what does?

You must ask yourself what kind of system is at work that in the face of such glaring discrepancies would allow the harshest possible punishment and call it JUSTICE. I have asked and do not like the answer. When the innocent are executed in the name of capital justice we should call it what it is – murder. It is a stain upon our nation that should be eradicated. America has enough blood to bear.

Consider just how many prominent people and organizations expressed their outrage to no avail: Pope Benedict XVI; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; President Jimmy Carter; Harry Belafonte; NAACP; Amnesty International, to name a few. Yet, it did nothing to turn the tide of what was viewed by hundreds of thousands as a miscarriage of justice. Do our voices not carry weight?

African-Americans, of course, feel that this is yet another statement about the social injustices that are in integral part of our history, stretching back endlessly. We know that in the minds of many a Black man’s life holds no weight when shored up against a White police officer. The system has shown repeatedly that such offenders, regardless of circumstance, evidence or public outcry are not innocent until proven guilty which is a constitutional outrage.

It broke my heart reading the Tweets by people of all races who were similarly enraged and disgusted but I was completely unmanned by the articulation of feelings by Black folks which underscored our implied worthlessness, hopelessness and dehumanization. The overwhelming outcry “Still it continues…” Troy Davis is one of too many to face a similar fate and this is one more tragic example. It is evident that because African-Americans are jailed at a disproportionately higher rate that they are more likely to be affected by capital punishment so our feelings are not unfounded.

“African Americans are 12 percent of the U.S. population, but 42 percent of prisoners on death row. In Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Maryland, and in the U.S. military and federal system, more than 60 percent of those on death row are Black; Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Ohio all have death rows where more than 50 percent are African American. Although Blacks constitute approximately 50 percent of murder victims each year, 80 percent of the victims in death penalty cases were white, and only 14 percent were Black.

Of the over 18,000 executions that have taken place in this country’s history, only 42 involved a white person being punished for killing a Black person.

According to Amnesty International, more than 20 percent of Black defendants executed since 1976 were convicted by all-white juries.

In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that death penalty laws in the U.S. were unconstitutional, in part because capital punishment was rife with racial disparities.”

Campaign To End The Death Penalty www.nodeathpenalty.org

The world isn’t fair and many injustices roll out on a daily basis and some will argue that this is just one more example being played out, regrettable, disturbing but unavoidable. But this was not a natural disaster or some fickle happenstance event – it was done at the hands of men and is preventable.

I can’t, now or ever, stand behind the death penalty as a means of punishment because it is senseless to tell people it is wrong to kill and then use the same methods to punish them. There is no such thing as a humane death and we are kidding ourselves if we believe otherwise. In my heart, I believe that the death penalty is inhumane and dangerous in the hands of a system that is all too often ineffective, inaccurate and mired in institutional racism.

I have made jokes about being an armchair activist but this has motivated me beyond words and in my conscience will not stand. I hope that enough people will take this for a wake up call and do something more than rant and rave. I am incredibly weary of being screwed over by the systems we put in place to protect us. In the grander scale, this is a human issue which should be important to all people of conscience.

Rashad Robinson of The Huffington Post put it beautifully, “There is no better way to honor Troy’s memory than to keep fighting for justice.”

There are myriad resources on-line to raise your voice and join the fight – exercise your rights as a citizen and do something with your outrage. Check out Campaign Against The Death Penalty. Today, has been declared a day against outrage and there will be events held nationally.