Tell Me It's Not About Race: Boys, Men, and Privilege
Politics and Activism

Tell Me It's Not About Race: Boys, Men, and Privilege

An opinion piece on how the current US legal system and law enforcement see boys, men, and privilege.

Edward Lich (Pixabay)

What is the difference between a boy and a man? While many would say age, our current legal system and law enforcement says race; it's very Black and White. A recent New Jersey rape case and the Netflix series "When They See Us" are great examples of this.

To set the scene, both involved charges of rape, suspects were teens, the victim had bad injuries in both, and suspects were brought into a court room. The differences, if excluding time, are that one case involved a White teen suspect with an economically privileged background, while the other involved Black teens who did not have the same economic status. Furthermore, one was going to be charged as a teen, while in the other, they were charged and sentenced as adults. The first case, is the case in NJ, and the second, the Central Park Five.

Lastly, in the NJ case, the judge stated that the White teen was coming from a "good family", was an Eagle Scout, and was probably going to get into a "good college" (Fieldstadt). Yet this teen was caught on video raping the victim, and sent it around to his friends. The lead investigator in the Central Park Five case called the suspects "Monsters", and the 5 Black teens were convicted with no substantial evidence. The White teen was seen as a boy, the Black teens, men.

Tell me this is not about race?

Tell me that, when the excuse of "having a bright future" seems to be brought up more in cases involving White male teens (as seen in the NJ and Stanford swimmer case) than Black male teens, that this is not about race.

Tell me, when judges seem to have more leniency or "mercy" on cases involving White male teens compared to their Black, that this is not about race.

Tell me, when boys of color are shot by police in what now seems to be on at least a monthly basis, while hearing the phrase "boys will be boys" seems to be brought up in the cases of White teens, that it is not about race.

Tell me, when in the fatal shootings of Black teens and young men, that the White officer almost always seems to be acquitted, that this is not about race.

Tell me, that when a 13 year old Latino teen is shot by police for holding a toy gun in my hometown, while a NJ teen is almost charged as a child in a rape case with video evidence, that this is not about race (Fieldstadt).

Tell me the difference between boys and men. While I would love to tell you it's simply age, our current legal systems and law enforcement demonstrate that it's not age, it's race.

References and Further Readings

Aisha Harris "The Central Park Five: 'We Were Just Baby Boys'"

Aris Folley "Judge under scrutiny after arguing teen accused of rape deserved leniency because he's from 'good family'"

Elisha Fieldstadt "U.S. NEWS New Jersey judge spared teen rape suspect because he came from 'good family'"

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