Corey Mwamba


[incomplete] thoughts on a sorry situation

To start, there are two similar words that I want to talk about. One word gets used more than the other, but the less common word has more relevance. The two words are equity and equality.

Equality is levelling of status, within the law. Equity is a levelling of treatment beyond law. You can battle for equality as hard as you want; but if you don't also battle for equity your previous battles just don't matter. Be militant or eloquent—or both; if there's nothing to stop you being mistreated beyond the law, you'll get mistreated within the law again and again.

It's impossible in the United States to talk about the case without bringing questions of race into it. If you do manage to ignore it, you see what a sorry thing the trial was: I don't think it was particularly biased, just very light on evidence for either side.

It makes me wonder if anyone would have died if there were no gun present. Let us not forget that someone was followed and suspected for walking casually. Would this have happened if there was no gun as back-up? The U.S.A. has to learn that shooting people is not a minor misadventure, just one of those things; but something that really, really shouldn't have to happen.

But this case doesn't exist in a vacuum; and to ignore its impact on conversations about race in the U.S. would be facile. And it brings me back to those two words. The media treatment and politicisation of the case removed all equality—but it was never equitable to start with. It'll happen again.

comments (2)

Corey Mwamba

15th Jul 2013 | 4:14am

And yes—I'll say it now—yes, I do believe that the U.S. civil rights struggle was based on fighting for equality. And yes, I do think that's the problem.

The main corpus of Black Americans is fighting an uphill battle. How they are and have been treated beyond law [natural justice, general civil/social interaction] is the grounding for how they are treated within the law. Bear in mind that the Thirteenth Amendment did not stop various abuses. U.S. law can be set up for equality, but main American mindset is not set up for equity.

Corey Mwamba

17th Jul 2013 | 6:06am

This excellent piece by Robin D. G. Kelley expresses the same thoughts, but with added weight and historical context. Thanks to Ethan Iverson for sharing.

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