Working in the criminal justice system, I often see women supporting boyfriends and husbands who are violent, career criminals. Sometimes the women are proud of themselves for “sticking by” their man through all of his legal troubles. They feel proud that they are “riding” for him like a “real woman” would do. I have personally witnessed women going above and beyond for men who, by my personal estimation, do not deserve it. I’ve watched women fill out mounds of paperwork for their man (sometimes while he sits there and flips through his cell phone), pay his restitution and fines, argue with his probation officer, attorney, or even the judge on his behalf, attend all of his court dates, and do so much more. Sometimes I have to prevent myself from asking the woman, Do you really think he’d do all of that for you? In most cases the answer is a resounding N-O. How many Black women have been given lengthy prison sentences as a result of their affiliation with a boyfriend or husband who was a criminal? And how many of those men stood by them? How many men put their lives on hold, raised children by themselves, and made other sacrifices out of sense of loyalty to their woman? I don’t have any hardcore data but I can take a guess…
More importantly, it seems many people in the Black American (BA) and Black West Indian (BWI) community view the support of known and sometimes violent criminals as something honorable. Rather than admonish the person for their criminal behavior we’re enabling them and even convincing them, what they did is “not that bad.” Let me give you an example: A couple years ago, I was attending the Felony Arraignment Court. There was a case where a young man shot into a crowd and killed an innocent bystander. He stepped over the innocent bystander as he continued pursuing the person he was actually trying to kill. The young man’s family- some of whom had come in from out-of-state- and baby’s mother were present in the court. (They took up and entire side of the courtroom.) When his case was called the judge made the decision to place his bond in the millions. The family became indignant. I even heard people yelling “This is bulls@#^!” When the deputy came to take the young man back to his cell, some of the family members yelled out “I love yous” and blew him kisses. Others yelled words of support. Immediately, I wondered if they had ever thought about the person this young man had murdered. Where was the support for him? If I remember correctly, the victim was walking with his friends and fiance when was shot in the back.
If you had been observing the arraignment, you would’ve thought the young man was being wrongly and unfairly prosecuted. You would’ve thought he was a noble young man who was facing a stiff penalty for a petty crime- not a person so inhumane that he would shoot an innocent person and actually step over him in order to kill someone else. I asked myself, why is that some us (Black people) are treating criminals as if they’re political prisoners? What has happened that we celebrate and revere people who are wreaking havoc on our communities? When does a person deserve to be shunned by the community and by the family?
Yes, the criminal justice system has a bias against people of color. Many of us get a raw deal. Many of us fall victim to the prison industrial complex while our White counterparts receive a slap on the wrist. But what about the BAs and BWIs who live a life of crime? What about the Black men who harm other people and undermine the growth of their community for the sake of personal gain? What about the children who are left fatherless because daddy chose to make foolish decisions? And how can women, who are often left to pick up the pieces, support these men? Who trained us to believe this was acceptable? Sometimes I want to tell the ride or die chicks, you are no Betty Shabazz, Myrlie Evers-Williams, or Coretta Scott King. Let’s stop all the foolishness.
I tell you right now, if my husband chose to go out and commit crimes, trying to live the gangsta life, and found himself locked up, I WOULD NOT be a ride or die chick. If he wasn’t a political prisoner of some sort then I’d be gone. Insha’allah, I would not spend my time, energy, money or effort pacifying him as if he is Nelson Mandela. As the old saying goes, you commit the crime, you do the time.
May Allah NEVER test me with such a thing. Ameen.
Big up Urban Futuwwah for the conversation that sparked this post.