Two days ago, two white supremacists were given stiff sentences for disrupting the birthday party of a young black boy a couple of years ago. The little boy was celebrating his eighth birthday with family and friends when the celebration was interrupted by a group of confederate flag waving jerks. It mattered little to them that this child was there to just enjoy the time with loved ones, and that their actions were likely to affect him psychologically in a way that no eight year old deserves. This child’s innocence was shaken in a moment that was supposed to be filled with joy, laughter, and love, when he should have been creating fond memories to last him a lifetime. Instead the memories are of a different kind. He was suddenly ushered into the reality of how cruel the world around him could be. He got to see a side of human nature that he no doubt would learn about or encounter at some point in his lifetime, but got an early introduction.
No one should have to deal with these issues in a supposedly enlightened world, in a country that is a vast melting pot of cultures, and people, but we live in an imperfect world where bad things do happen. Sometimes bad things happen to the most undeserving among us.
According to reports the group showed up and stormed the party, yelling racial slurs and threatening to kill people. Apparently even the children present were subject to their vile and hateful behavior. Not only did they make threats, but they even pulled out guns while making their threats. This was no doubt a very frightening experience for anyone to get caught in, more so for the children who were present. Thankfully no one was physically hurt, but no doubt the incident left some scars at a time when the nation seemed to be going through one of the worst periods of racial tension in decades.
The incident eventually led to the arrest of four people. Reports state that two of those arrested pleaded guilty, and were given shorter sentences than the ones who were tried and sentenced. The judge wanted to send a strong message that this behavior cannot, and will not be tolerated as he handed out his sentence. The male perpetrator received a thirteen year sentence, and the young woman received a six year term. They both must also serve a fifteen year probation when they come out of jail, and In addition to the hard jail sentence that the judge handed out to the two; he also banished them from the county when they come out of prison. They both cried after their sentencing and the young woman apologized to the people they subjected to their abuse.
This incident no doubt played into the hands of those who believe that America is an unjust country where black people are constantly under threat by white Americans, and no doubt in the minds of many; the incident served to solidify that image that many have of the country. The fact that just a few weeks earlier a young man walked in to a black church, and slaughtered nine worshipers after sitting and fellowshipping with them for over an hour, then stating that he wanted to start a race war was no doubt still fresh on the minds of those who were subjected to the abuse by this hateful racist, group. Some say that they were probably emboldened by the church shooter, and chose to take the actions they did as a result of this. Whatever the reason for them behaving the way that they did, the message from the judge was loud and clear that there is no room for this type of behavior in the United States of America. While some may feel the need to use the incident to point the finger and say “I told you so,” people should stop for a minute and put this whole incident in perspective. No doubt many feel vindicated when incidents like this happen, and in some quarters there might even be a sliver of morbid rejoicing because in their minds they have the proof that this is indeed a racist country. While incidents like these should not be happening, and we all should rightfully recoil in horror from the thought that it did happen, we must also be not too quick to look at this as proof of some bigger scourge that exists.
Racism is one of the many problems that is a part of the human experience. Other issues that we contend with include corruption, greed, jealously, contentiousness, anger and many other negative attributes that have the potential to bring out the worst in people. For some reason when it comes to racism, people seem to have a standard of perfection that they do not have for all the other reasons that bad things do happen in life. This is not to say that people should treat these proven racist incidents trivially when do happen, but we should see the country for what it is-a place that is filled with imperfect people where that imperfection manifests itself from time to time in incidents like these. The fact that these people were held accountable for their actions speaks more about, and is a greater indicator of the character of the nation in which we live than the acts that they committed. The judge in this case, the prosecutor, the police who arrested them, and the jury is the true representation of America, not these fools.