Original Title: The only perfect thing is the system. All the things you’d be by now if Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky was your judge.
I love being black, exclusive struggles and all, but I want to wake up white and male one day. Open my eyes to sunshine through a window with no curtains in a room that smells like rental cars in springtime.
Earlier, I found myself in a dark space I was afraid I couldn’t escape. One of those “Fuck America” spaces because Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky saw prison unfit for a white boy rapist who forced objects and himself into an unconscious woman after a party. In these spaces, I find myself like I find myself in the most vulnerable corners of Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago and like cities across the country; nervous and seeking ways out before I’m killed or consumed.
This is partly about the rape of The Woman. The other part is about America and her System. It may jumble. Percocet.
“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today,” The Woman said. “White boys on the better part of ‘The System’ don’t get their photos taken at the precincts,” I asked. “I can’t find a mugshot anywhere.”
To her who used to be independent but is now afraid to go on walks alone at night and afraid to attend social events with friends where drinks are had: I am sorry you weren’t a white man in a room where women could not be respected. I am sorry what happened to you was never called rape or sexual assault by Brock Turner, the owner of the only body that mattered in this case. Are you black? Don’t answer that.
I want to wake up white and male to get a better understand of these suspect-to-victim strategies. Brock Turner used a broken bottle or an umbrella handle or a microphone stand and his fingers to break open The Woman’s body. She said, “I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it. I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.” Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky feels The Woman should be ashamed of herself for playing the victim while standing in front of The System. Brock Turner is the rapist and the victim here, and he must be saved from the severe punishment a harsh sentence would bring. When white boys rape and cries from The Women they violate are heard all around the city, I imagine a chorus of judges and rapist-making parents singing, “the damage is already done. Why ruin this young white man’s life, too?”
For a week, my friend sat in a local jail, accused of raping a white girl on a nearby campus. It was only a week because the real rapist was caught. “He sounded like the man who raped me,” she said. This was 2001 and he is Black, which means he’s only able to go from suspect to lesser suspect. His dreams and his photos taken professionally in a studio will never be known or seen by anyone other than his mother, and there will always be whispers of “that’s the one they thought raped that girl.” He’s black and no apologies came from The System, just a “have a good day.”
All the things he’d be by now if Santa Clara County Superior Judge Aaron Persky was his judge: almost exactly what The System made him that week, but even less human.
White suspects are treated better than black victims. While I owe no one an explanation, I find myself explaining this too often. Then I explain Black fears to white neutrals, white neutrals to black feminists, black feminists to black men, black men to conservatives, conservatives to white hippies I meet abroad, and when I come home I have to explain them to my mama. How do I explain Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky is most likely a rapist and in giving white rapists like Brock Turner a pass, he’s relieving himself of the guilt? How do I explain that him spitting in the face of Brock Turner’s victim, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky is doing the same to his own?
Brock Turner exists to keep the system fine-tuned. He is the self-sacrificing lamb who took the temporary fall so that other white men could see The System is still theirs. Brock Turner and Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky can now find their names on the wall, alongside Johannes Mehserle, George Zimmerman, Darren Wilson, Richard Murphy, Kenneth Boss, Sean Carroll, Edward McMellon, and the millions of others who have given their lives to ensure the only thing perfect in the world is The System.
Dear Jasmine Richards:
Dick Gregory’s son died while he was fighting a war alongside Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, forcing Dick to return home to his grieving wife. Dick had been there for weeks and noticed something rather peculiar; the Jackson Police, who were normally harassing Black citizens, weren’t now. I apologize for this cliché, but it was the calm before the storm. “They’re going to kill us soon,” Dick told Medgar. Being pulled from one struggle into another, Dick was dropped at the airport by Medgar. Hugging his friend, Dick said, “It would have been a pleasure to die with you.” Days later, Medgar was shot down in his driveway.
Jasmine, it would have been a pleasure to be taken down with you. Months ago, in Altadena, we talked about this fight, our roles, and damn near pulled the head hair from the roots of the woman who so forcefully said, “Black kids wouldn’t get killed by police if they pulled their pants up.”
Are we still celebrating Black firsts? Congratulations on being the first Black woman to be convicted for lynching. This is America, and knowing The System, you may be the only person convicted of lynching. I won’t fact check it, because it doesn’t matter. You tried to free a man from The System. Commendable work, but now they’re looping the noose for you.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky handed rapist Brock Turner 6 months for turning The Woman’s body into a prison. Did you know that? A white boy with Olympic dreams raped a woman and got only 6 months, and here you are, fighting to free people from the prisons they’ve built for themselves and the prisons unjustly built for them by others, and maximum sentencing will undoubtedly (because they’re undoubtedly racist in The System) be handed to you.
All the things you’d be by now if Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky was your judge: lynched. How ironic.
One problem with The System is those in it can recognize no humanity but their own.
It would have been a pleasure to be taken down with you.
In Slavery & Freedom,
Darnell Lamont Walker.