Another Racial Parable

(Inspired by reading Divided by Faith)

Joe and James were best friends and high school seniors aspiring to attend the same notable college.  They both enrolled in an ACT Prep course hoping to attain an ACT score of 25, which was a requirement for the college they wanted to attend. They enrolled the same day but were placed in different classes.

Joe was placed in a class that was comprised of the top students in their county. They each had their own cubicle, which contained a laptop, a calculator, and ACT Prep books. Each student was given a significant amount of one-on-one sessions with an instructor.

James was placed in a class that was comprised of students who were struggling academically. They were given pencil, paper, and several ACT prep books they had to share.  The instructor was always late for their classes, so they were never able to cover all the required material. The room was over populated so the instructor was not able to answer all the questions posed by the students.

Joe and James took the ACT on the same day. Once they received their score Joe revealed he made a 20 on the ACT. Although, James scored a 14.  Joe was applauded and asked, “James, how could you make a 14 with the help of this prep course? Were you listening in class?”

They both decided to take the prep course again in hopes of getting a 25.  Joe was placed in a similar class to his previous one. James was placed in an overpopulated class, again. They took the test again and Joe received a 25. Sadly, James received a 15.

Joe was upset because he believed James had not applied himself. “These instructors are trying to help us, but I guess you don’t want to go to college. Why did you even come to this program if you weren’t going to try?” said Joe.

James said as he wiped tears from his eyes “I want to go to college. My whole family wants me to go so I can be the first male to get a college education. I really tried in this course. I think we had different experiences.” Joe ended the conversation by saying “Well you just have to try harder next time because this program is set up to help us, and I think they tried really hard too.”

“Joe, I sat in a crowded classroom with kids who were struggling academically. I had to share my ACT prep books. My teacher always showed up late and never finished covering all the information,” said James. Tears began to fall down Joe’s cheek and he said “I didn’t know. I just didn’t know.” Joe and James cried together. After that, Joe said, “Let’s go talk to that ACT prep course and demand they give you the same treatment they gave me.” “We should demand fair treatment for everyone,” said James.

“….to engage in a serious discussion about race in America, we must begin not with the problems of black people, but with the flaws of American society-flaws rooted in historic inequalities and longstanding cultural stereotypes. And we must acknowledge that structures and behavior are inseparable, that institutions and values go hand in hand”

Cornel West 

Key Points

  • The assumption that we all receive the same treatment ignores the facts.
  • Defending a structure without an adequate amount of information is dangerous.
  • Individual effort coupled with a broken structure is disheartening.
  • Listening can produce lasting fruit to assist in bridging the racial gap.
  • Listening moves you to have compassion.
  • There is hope.

 

 

 

Justice Will Prevail

justice-of-god-redemptive-history-2

Despite what we pledge to the flag, liberty and justice does not come to all in America or here on earth.  In a recent case, Brock Turner received a six-month sentence in jail for sexual assault charges, which usually results in a minimum sentence of six years.  In the words of the prosecutor, he received a “slap on the wrist sentence.” In contrast, there are individuals who believe Turner’s punishment was more than adequate for the crime.  For example, his father has said “His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” In addition, Aaron Persky, the judge who sentenced Turner, stated “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others Despite the beliefs of his father and the judge, Turner evaded justice.

Partiality in Justice

Growing up I never believed the justice system was fair. I have heard a number of stories of individuals who have received unfair sentences because the judge was partial.  Judge Persky’s refusal to carry out justice was a display of partiality and reminded me of all those stories. His decision in the sentencing was affected by Turner’s “age and lack of a criminal record.”   In addition, Mike Armstrong, the defendants attorney,  felt it necessary to remind the judge that the defendant comes from a “good family”, “with a record of good accomplishments”, and had an “elite and promising swimming career.” These statements lead me to believe partiality was the driving force behind his light sentencing and evasion of justice.

Partiality has no place in justice. The personal attributes of the defendant are irrelevant when it comes to the execution of justice. Whether an individual is young, old, a convicted felon,or first-time offender, they must be given a punishment suitable of the crime. Partiality disguised as justice leaves victims asking the question “Where is justice for me?”

Where is the justice for Turner’s victim? Her life has been forever altered. In a letter read in court, she wrote “I became closed off, angry, self-deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You (Turner) cannot give me back the life I had before that night either.” The justice system failed to deliver “the liberty and justice for all” that we so often pledge to the flag. She now has to live with scars that were forced on her, while her victimizer goes free with a few bumps.

Justice Will Be Delivered

It saddens me to think about the countless unknown victims whose victimizers escaped justice. When I think of this, a question posed throughout the Bible comes to mind, “How Long Oh Lord?”  How long will victims and criminals be treated unjustly because of their status? How long will leniency and vengeance masquerade as justice? It is almost enough to make you say, “I will take justice into my own hands.” Although, once these thoughts cross my mind I remember the Judge of Judges who will bring complete justice.

Justice Is On Its Way

Despite the complexity and various interpretations of the book, Revelation reminds us God will deliver complete justice. Though the judicial system is ordained to deliver justice, it will fail because it is made up of sinners. Criminals will go unpunished. Judges, attorneys, and prosecutors will fail the victims. As believers, we must not waver in our hope that justice will be served. God has allowed each unjust sentencing, but He also has a sentence that cannot be avoided. Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done” (Revelation 22:12). As the old song goes “he may not come when you want him” but “he will be there right on time.” Victims of any kind can be comforted by the fact that one day God will bring perfect justice; but not just that, He “will wipe away every tear” and there “shall neither be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Revelation 21:4). Justice will come to all, but God will be the one who gives it.

But the character of God is the guarantee that all wrongs will be righted someday; when “the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgement will be revealed” (Roman 2:5) arrives retribution will be exact and no problems of cosmic unfairness will remain to haunt us. God is the judge so justice will be done”

J.I. Packer (Knowing God)

Jesus Took Our Justice

Knowing one day God will come and completely judge our lives is seemingly terrifying because our sin is plentiful. We know arguing our innocence is futile because God sees our depravity. We have earned God’s justice and our accomplishments can’t sway the judge. We should have to endure his wrath. But Jesus (cue organ chords) died on Calvery and took our death sentence. He is the just and the justifier (Romans 3:26). Now we, who deserve the full weight of God’s justice, can live knowing “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Sources:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/stanford-university-sexual-assault-former-swimmer-brock-turner-witnesses/

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/in-stanford-university-sex-assault-case-a-tale-of-two-letters/

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/08/us/aaron-persky-brock-turner-stanford-rape/index.html?eref=rss_latest

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/timeline-significant-dates-life-brock-turner-39783289