Legal Double Standards Keep Us In Shackles

It’s time we stop lying to ourselves.

The lying has gone on much too long and every time the lie is repeated, we are all the worse for it.

The lie is that in America, everyone is equal under the law.

It’s time to pull back the curtain on this lie, but in order to do so, first we must have an understanding of what “Law” actually is.

In its most basic form, law, is a process of authoritative control whereby certain members of a particular community establish and maintain a specific public order.

This definition may seem like a mouthful, but history can help us unpack it. Nazi Germany had anti-Jewish laws, the racist regime of South Africa had apartheid laws and the southern states in this country had Jim Crow laws. The Nazis, the Afrikaners and the Southern segregationists all had authoritative control over their respective national and state communities. And with that control, they each ordered their societies in the manner they desired.

In each of these instances, it is not difficult to identify those community members who sought to maintain a specific public order, nor is it difficult to identify the “specific order” they sought to maintain.

For Blacks in South Africa and the segregated southern United States, subjugation was the public order where they lived. And in the case of Jews living under Nazi control, it was extermination. For these people, those were the laws.

A law need not be just or fair or benign to be the law. Law, like a gun or any other tool, can be used for good or for evil.

To disguise the fact that laws can be cruel, unjust and designed to harm certain members of our community, “Blind Justice” was the myth created to foster the notion of a fair legal system in America. But observations in most American courtrooms will instruct us that what passes for justice in this country is not color-blind.

Our laws are written with high-sounding words, full of dignity and sensibility but words are not deeds. And as in courtrooms, the long arm of the law, embodied in the form of law enforcement officers, reaches out into the streets and neighborhoods where we witness the double standards that are applied in enforcing our laws written in lofty language.

Even though the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ended slavery more than 150 years ago, people of Color are still forced to wear the shackles that are the double standards in our country’s legal system. Bigots and racists use our system of laws and law enforcement to police Black and Brown bodies, making it clear to people of Color that we are neither welcome nor expected to exist in White spaces.

Ohio maintains a specific public order that allows Whites to walk the streets with automatic rifles unmolested by the police, but justifies gunning down a Black man who is purchasing a BB rifle in an open carry state. And it finds no fault in a police officer executing a 12-year-old Black boy for playing with a toy gun in a park. This is the law in Ohio.

Many cities and states maintain a specific public order that targets people of Color for fines and the confiscation of property in order to fund local and state governments. Ferguson, Mo was proven to use the disproportionate levying of fines on people of Color to fund their municipal activities. That was the law in Ferguson. The state of South Carolina’s civil forfeiture law allows police to confiscate money and property from people merely suspected of having committed a crime. This is often done without a trial, and in some instances, without even an arrest. Black men are subjected to this law at a rate vastly disproportionate to their numbers in the general population. A statewide journalism project in South Carolina titled “TAKEN” reports that while comprising only 13 percent of that state’s population, Black men represent 65 percent of all citizens targeted for civil forfeiture. This is still the law in South Carolina.

The slave codes, the Fugitive Slave Act, the Jim Crow laws of years past and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act just a few short years ago are all part of a process of authoritative control by certain community members to establish and maintain a specific public order that keeps people of Color in shackles. There are many more laws that do this, but the list is too long to discuss in this short commentary.

We must pull back the curtain to determine the true public order purpose of each law governing our lives and to identify those community members who seek to establish and maintain them. Once we do this, then we can ask ourselves, if this is the America we want for ourselves. And if not, what are we going to do about it?

Oscar H. Blayton is a former Marine Corps combat pilot and human rights activist who practices law in Virginia.

October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

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