Killed her son..
The idea that Nelson could be convicted of second-degree homicide by a vehicle makes me truly nauseous, because that is passing the buck from Guy to Nelson. Guy was driving the car, Guy was drunk, Guy struck the child and Guy fled. These charges are so, so sadly reflective of America's victim-blaming culture. A child runs out into the street while crossing from the bus stop and is struck by a car and killed. How does it possibly serve anyone to put his mother in jail? She has two other children to take care of.
It's hard to imagine a white mother facing trial in the same circumstance. Then again, it's also hard for some to imagine a white mother in the same circumstance, unless she's poor, and then she too is to be made an example of. Because we're taught in America that if we're not wealthy and successful it's our "fault," and that everyone should want to be an over-scheduled, workaholic consumer, because to be otherwise is unpatriotic. It's un-American to stop feeding the machine. And if you're not feeding it, you're milking it, and that makes you scum. It's immature black-and-white thinking (in more than one sense), but that's what we're best at.
This story reminded me immediately of one I read the other day about the Anonymous hacker that helped convict the Steubenville rapists. Mother Jones reported, "If convicted of hacking-related crimes, [he] could face up to 10 years behind bars-far more than the one- and two-year sentences doled out to the Steubenville rapists." They added, "Defending himself could end up costing a fortune." Precisely. America's justice system favors the wealthy and powerful and blames those whose are already systematically oppressed. For how much longer can we sit idly by and watch as those in power in this country ignore the real problems of real people in favor of criminalizing the poverty and oppression they've created?
The message Nelson's case sends is: You're black and single with three kids and you don't even know how to cross the street you pathetic worthless excuse for a human being. Now go to jail and think about how you killed your kid. Swallow the shame and the deflected blame. That's what you get for needing to take the bus I pay for with my taxes.
When the lesson should be: Pedestrians have the right of way and drunk driving is illegal, not to mention unethical. Fleeing the scene of a crime is heinous. This poor mother, forced to take the bus on a four lane highway, lost her son. Perhaps we should provide better options for families who need to travel.
Think about the difference and decide which one is right. Put yourself in her shoes. Just think about it.
- By Carolyn Castiglia