Where's the Justice in the Justice System?

When I’m brainstorming topics for this blog, it seems like as soon as I go down one path, something else happens that ratchets up my anger. Last week, it was sitting solidly at about a four, which seems to be the Trump-inspired norm. Right now I’m at nine or so. Why the change? Because two things happened this week that highlight our society’s glaring inequalities and serve as a reminder that our justice system doesn’t always seem to actually deliver justice: Bill Cosby’s mistrial and the acquittal of the officer who shot Philando Castile.

I’ll start by saying that I’m no legal scholar. But I am a reasonably smart person with access to information about the legal system. I’m not writing any of this because I’m an expert or even profess to be one. I’m simply a concerned citizen with a platform.

Let’s start with Bill Cosby. I know that in America, people are innocent until proven guilty and, as of now, he’s not been found guilty. He has been accused of sexual assault by almost 60 women. Yes, 60. He also admitted in a sworn deposition to having given Quaaludes to unsuspecting women who then couldn’t expressly say "No" to his advances. Because the jury couldn’t come to a decision, his trial ended in a mistrial. To me, this doesn’t say anything about whether or not Cosby is guilty, but it speaks volumes about our warped cultural understanding of sexual assault.

The defense was able to plant a seed of doubt in the jury’s collective head that the women accusing Cosby of sexual assault weren’t credible because, you know, women lie about that kind of stuff all the time. And because in many cases they didn’t immediately come forward to report the assault, doubt is cast on the reliability of the accusations, too. His defense was a master class in rape culture. Women lie because lying about sexual assault is just so much fun. Certainly, it’s how all us women get our jollies when we’re looking for a little excitement. Puh-lease.

So, here I am, floating on my cloud of anger about Cosby when BOOM! The verdict came down in the case of the police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile. This seriously took my breath away. Unarmed African American men are disproportionately shot and killed by police. That’s just a fact. And justice escapes many in these cases. I thought for sure, for sure, that this case would be different. I mean, the shooting was recorded by his girlfriend - the immediate aftermath was live-streamed for all to watch! How on earth could they have reached a not guilty verdict?

All I can say is it just doesn’t seem right. I wasn’t in that courtroom, but I’ve watched the footage from the incident. While I don’t think that police officer walked up to the car intending to shoot, the truth of the matter is he lost control of the situation and it resulted in an innocent man being shot five times. How does that not make him guilty of manslaughter?

I don’t have all of the answers to society’s ills, but as I sit around nearly constantly sighing at headlines, one thought occurs to me on repeat: We all have to work together to make a difference. I’m a feminist. I also believe in the importance of intersectional activism, and want to lend my support and voice to causes that go beyond the things that impact my life on a personal level. All this week has done is made me even angrier, and that makes me want to be LOUD.