Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On Justice


"When justice is present, tranquility transcends a land much like the calm, flowing waters of the Niagara. When justice is absent, there is outright unrest; equilibrium in society is disturbed, and progress is paralyzed. Absent justice can be felt as impactfully as the waters gushing from the hoses of police spraying civil rights marchers. It stings. While these raging waters did not kill the civil rights workers, it forcefully halted their functions for the time. Absent justice has the same effect on society. Justice that is selectively present or disparately applied is no less deleterious. Disparate justice leaves a sect of society disconnected and breeds a spirit of divisiveness. Much like a person standing knee-deep in the murky, debris-filled swamp waters of Louisiana, those on the receiving end of disparate justice see what is across from them and know it is within close reach, but experience great frustration knowing they can only get to it if they fight great resistance."

~ Angela A. Allen-Bell, from 'Bridge Over Troubled Waters and Passageway on a Journey to Justice: National Lessons Learned About Justice From Louisiana's Response to Hurricane Katrina' in the California Western Law Review, Spring 2010

7 comments:

Z said...

What a great passage.

Changeseeker said...

Isn't it? The rest of the article is just that good, as well. Elegantly written, insightful, scientifically rigorous, and damning of the way things are without being whiny or maudlin. Impressive. And the author (a law professor at a historically Black university) is utterly down to earth in candid conversation. We're working on a plan for a prisoners' right conference for some time this year.

aspiring soc professor said...

Thank you so very much for 1) existing and 2) publishing your thoughts and fantastic findings on this blog. I am teaching American Race Relations for the first time - your blog is a lifesaver on many days. Your work serves as a wonderful reminder that great teaching can and does change lives.

Changeseeker said...

And your comment just made my day, aspiring soc professor, at a rather low moment...If you're using my blog to teach a sociology course on race relations, you have nerve. Good for you and good for your students, too. Thanks.

Z said...

Prisoners' rights conference, good - it's really needed!

RiPPa said...

I LOVE THIS!

Changeseeker said...

Hey, RiPPa. I agree totally. Bell's argument in the article overall is to compare (using detailed examples) how law enforcement handled people who were seen as "breaking the law" in Orleans Parish (including New Orleans) and Jefferson Parish (wealthier and Whiter) BEFORE Hurricane Katrina and then again AFTER Hurricane Katrina. It's bizarre how graphic it is. White people get away with murder (literally) and Black people get charged (and harshly punished) for all manner of stuff that barely registers on the naughty scale. Brilliant, honestly. I would post the entire thing except it's so wonderfully long and carefully documented with multiple footnotes on every page. I'm going to meet the author Friday and I can hardly wait.