Kamala Harris for President?

What is the main point of the article? To provoke critical thinking discourse around Kamala Harris in light of her announcement to run for President.

Kamala Harris is running for President. Question? or exclamation mark!

Following her MLK Jr. day announcement she was met with equal applause and criticism. Most notably the New York Times responded with dissatisfaction, publishing a dissenting op-ed from Lara Bazelon, a law professor from Loyola Law School. The op-ed was titled, Kamala Harris Was Not Progressive Prosecutor.

Bazelon writes that regarding opportunities to make crucial criminal justice reforms in California as San Francisco’s district attorney and California attorney general, Harris consistently stood on the wrong side of history.

Bazelon gets more specific with the Congresswoman’s record reporting that Harris withheld information about a police lab technician who was accused of sabotaging her work to aid in the convictions for nearly 600 innocent people. In 2010 it was determined that Harris was aware of evidence proving intentional sabotage but she failed to share this information with defense attorneys and the judge. Detail about the police lab scandal can be found here:

Bazelon continues to critique Harris for supporting California state legislation to prosecute parents of truant elementary school children despite her awareness that such demographic centered prosecutions are criminalizing poverty.

In 2014 a federal judge ruled the death penalty unconstitutional of which Harris appealed the death penalty arguing that 740 men and women on death row deserved to die regardless of historical inequalities in arrests and discriminate prosecutions.  

As grassroots organization took the lead with proposition 47 to reduce categories of non-violent felonies to misdemeanors, Harris refused to take a position, remaining silent where her voice could have easily brought swift justice for an already overcrowded California state prison system. As the rest of the nation began to hold serious discourse regarding marijuana legislation Harris laughed at the matter, mocking the unequal targeting and arrest of black men, only changing her opinion to match the sentiment of 2018 public opinion.

Bazelon goes on to note the following:

  • 2015, opposed a bill requiring investigation for police shootings
  • Refusing the regulation of statewide body cameras
  • Atrocious record of wrongful conviction cases
  • George Gage
  • Daniel Larsen
  • Johnny Baca
  • Kevin Cooper

Nonetheless, Bazelon is fair. She credits Harris for creating the Back on Track program allowing non-violent re-offenders access to resources proven to lower recidivism such as cognitive behavior therapy, education and housing.

Following Bazelon’s op-ed public reaction was controversial. Harris supporters jumped to her defense quickly rattling a list of her accomplishments as Congresswoman but the question remains,

Can a prosecutor be progressive?

How can one acknowledge the distinct flaws of the Prison industrial complex, the evidence based discrimination of black and brown young men, the unchecked and callous power of prosecutors, the increasingly elongated and arguably unconstitutional nature of post release surveillance? How can one acknowledge all of the shortcomings of our criminal justice system then assert than a prosecutor can be progressive?

Perhaps a prosecutor can be?  Baltimore state attorney Marilyn Mosby used her platform to hold the officers accountable for Freddie Gray’s murder. The Harvard Law review reflects on the recent phenomenon of progressive DA’s by publishing the paradox of the “Progressive Prosecutor.”

https://harvardlawreview.org/2018/12/the-paradox-of-progressive-prosecution/

The Harvard Law publication concludes by writing that there is no such thing as the progressive prosecutor and that “such reforms attempt to fix broken systems without realizing that these systems are “working to re-entrench and legitimize current power arrangement.”  

As the next presidential election cycle gears up, do you want criminal justice revolution or simply criminal justice reform?

At 33 days, America is experiencing its longest government shutdown in history. Nearly 800,000 federal employees are furloughed without pay of which nearly 400,000 workers are being forced to report to work without pay. Under the unwise leadership of President Donald Trump, Congresswoman Kamala Harris may seem like the lesser of two evils but we must ask ourselves, “is she really the best we can do?”

Eager for more diverse representation we must ask ourselves, “has she truly represented the rights of diverse persons?”

In heated response to the NYT article Vox.com ran a pro Kamala Harris article reporting on her speech at her alma matter, Howard University.

https://www.vox.com/2019/1/21/18191864/kamala-harris-2020-criminal-justice

A young black female student voiced her support, She’s evolved.

Why is evolution a privilege of the elite whereas there are hundreds of men convicted by Harris still haunted by their choices unlike Harris who was never held accountable for her unlawful decision to withhold evidence. We have to stop with the discriminant forgiveness and hold everyone equally accountable to their past while equally granting everyone clemency for their future.

In conclusion, does she get my vote,

no.

If I’m forced between two characters with an equally malicious past and I must gamble on the trajectories of their futures does she then get my vote…

maybe.

Pseudo-Violence Post HipHop Democracy

The recent federal indictment of young rap artist, Takashi69  demonstrates the glorification of the violence subsequently produced by extreme urban poverty. The narrative of Takashi69 counter parallels the traditional life trajectory of rap artists that typically employ the creativity of rap lyrics to express the struggles of urban poverty whereas Takashi69 increasingly employed gang association and violence to validate the imaginary persona created by his rap lyrics.

This level of psuedo street violence is not a novel  phenomenon. Several rap artists such as Grammy award winners Drake and Rick Ross have been scrutinized for the cultural appropriation of Black poverty. When rappers profit off  lyrics that falsely reflect a life of urban poverty unlived, they highlight the reward of crime while silencing the risk of incarceration.

On the surface level and on a deeper level Takashi69 is no different than Meek Mill. Meek Mill now 31 years old is nearly a decade older than Tekashi 22. Both men have been impacted by urban poverty and crime, one is at the pre-trial stage and the other is post-conviction. On the surface (media level) and deeply (human) level the two men are the same and inherently worthy of the same advocacy. However, on an intermediate level, the two are dissimilar.

As an organization we work tirelessly to break the tiny box(es) our clients are placed into. When celebrity individuals voluntarily draw an imaginary box then place themselves into the box  it undermines the credibility of those that make survival decisions out of necessity v.s. economic exploitation. I am compassionate regarding circumstantial violence but am admittedly judgmental against violence for sport. Sport violence, particularly urban sport violence that evokes the long term depression of minority men for the short term euphoria of wealthy men is the abusive employment of human vulnerability.

In retrospect, hurt people, hurt, people. Daniel testifies that his Dad was murdered and being raised by a single mother in Bushwick, Brooklyn negatively affected him. To believe in prison abolition is to believe everyone is legitimately hurting and thus worthy and capable of healing.

Takashi69 bothers me because I perceive him as divesting compassion, attention, energy, resources from truly disenfranchised system impacted persons to himself, someone who strategically designed and pursued street credibility with the aim of appearing system impacted. Nonetheless, Takashi69, being held without bail is equally worthy of sentiment. His alleged actions (robbery, assault, gang affiliation) do not validate remand. Takashi is being ultra-punished for using his personal wealth to bring public glory to system impacted urban Black men.

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Takashi69 is a personal growth opportunity. All actions from petty theft to serial murder are worthy of forgiveness. In working through my disappointment I can move on to establishing new expectations of post release rehabilitation configured in fresh hope.