I spent the day in jury duty. I really wanted to fulfill my civic duty, this being my first time, and really looked forward to serving on the case.
I was actually THIS close to getting on the case. The defense was pleased with the seated jury. The prosecution was THIS close to being pleased. I was the deciding factor.
Can't and won't give the details of the case away, but there's a lot going through my mind.
One, how lucky and blessed I am that my family and I have been untouched by the judicial system -- either as victims of crimes, or accused of crimes. I pray it remains this way for us and for all of you.
Two, that the jury system "tries" its best to get unbiased, fair-minded folks to serve on juries... and I applaud that. But the system does not want "critical thinkers" serving on a jury. At least prosecutors don't. I've devoted my life to many social justice causes. I believe that people of color have disproportionately been shuttled through the judicial system without a bean of a chance of getting a fair trial by their peers. I wanted to serve, to be chosen, maybe to be that one juror who could fairly look at the allegations, the people involved, AND the circumstances that lead people to make the choices they make... or are alleged to have made. This leads me to the third thing on my mind...
Three, the young men accused of the crime I could have been a juror for were so young, so good looking, looked smart, and full of potential. Made me wonder what led them to sitting in the defendants chairs. Made me wonder what their mothers and fathers think, feel, wish for for their sons. Made me wonder, if given another chance, would they make different choices of who they hang with or how they spend their time. Made me wonder if I could have been an inspiration for them, as I answered the prosecutors, judges, and the defense attorney questions, and talked about how my professional life is devoted to raising awareness of race, class, gender, and the abuse of power and privilege in society. If they could feel that I felt for them, and didn't look at them as "just another young black/latino boy" destined for a life of crime.
Maybe that's why the defense wanted me. Maybe that's why at the last minute, just seconds before we recessed for the day, the prosecution thanked me, but asked that I be dismissed from the jury.
Maybe I'm too open-minded, fair, and can really look at the gray areas in life. Not just black or white... or brown.
We have to mentor, reach out to, teach, guide, and be brother/sister friends to our youth. Let them know they're not alone. Let them know we care. Let them know we want their youth, brains, looks, and potential to be fulfilled and used for good. And that we're there for them.
Can't let them be just another number.