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Monthly Archives: September 2011

It took 8 minutes for the lethal injection to kill Troy Davis.

In 1989, nineteen-year-old Troy Davis was accused of shooting Mark MacPhail, an off-duty police officer. MacPhail was helping a homeless man in a Burger King parking lot when he was shot in the face and the heart. According to court testimony, Davis was said to be a part of the group of two other men that was assaulting the homeless man. Prosecutors also claim that he had was beating the homeless man with a gun for beer. Nine eyewitnesses came forward and provided eyewitness accounts that stated Davis murdered MacPhail. This led to Davis’ first death sentence in 1991. Over the next twenty years, Davis and his supporters have been successful at preventing his execution. Appeals from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Amnesty International, former President Jimmy Carter, fifty one members of Congress and former F.B.I. director, William Sessions along with thousands of people wrote to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles asking for clemency. In 2010, seven out of the nine eyewitnesses recanted their statements and allegations of police coercion have surfaced. Furthermore, there was no gun or DNA evidence that proved without a doubt that Davis was the murderer. Ninety minutes before his execution, the Supreme Court stepped in to review the case, but declined to grant a stay for Davis. Until his death, Davis was defiant about his innocence.

Unbelievable.

I don’t even know how to articulate my feelings about this. I’m upset, sad, confused, in disbelief and most of all, afraid. The death penalty has been (one of) the reason(s) for the death of innocent people, it has perpetuated injustice and the belief that ‘closure’ and justice can be achieved simply with death.  How is it possible that, in this present society, the death penalty is morally permissible and legal?

In another case, Duane Buck, an African American, was scheduled to be killed in Texas. Hours before his death, the Supreme Court granted a stay of execution because a psychologist testified that “Mr. Buck’s race increased the chances of future dangerousness”. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? It is painful how discriminatory the US legal system and death penalty is. What happened to “Freedom and Justice for all”?

I also found this picture online, which is self-explanatory:

And yet, I cannot help but also be frustrated with myself. As a member of my generation, I am ashamed of my habit of being outraged for five minutes and then slipping back into indifference. I admit I was not fully aware of the Troy Davis case until a few days before his death. I lacked a definitive opinion on the death penalty until I took the time to delve into the argument against it. I looked into the Innocence Project, which is, according to their website, “a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice”. So far, it has successfully saved 273 individuals from unfair execution since 1992. Despite the accomplishments of the Innocence Project, I can’t help but think that there must be more or something different that needs to be done to effectively end the use of the death penalty. I clicked on the “What Can I Do?” link on the Innocence Project website. I’m not too surprised. Of course, awareness and staying informed, along with writing to elected representatives and the media are helpful, but the present existence of the death penalty makes me question our power as citizens. I could go on and on about this but it obviously detracts from the main issue of the death penalty.

Until his death, Troy Davis continued to have faith that he would be saved. He told prison personnel: “May God have mercy on your souls; may God bless your souls.” Before his execution, Davis was described as being in good spirits and prayerful.

I wonder what it feels like to be executed for a crime I didn’t commit. I wonder what it feels like to know that, despite the support of nearly 630,000 people, there is a roomful of people that decide I should die, despite a lack of concrete evidence.

I think it is admirable and amazing that Troy Davis maintained a positive attitude towards humanity and had faith that things would change. I hope I can continue that same positivity and hope that one day things will change with our efforts.

Read on:

Amnesty International – Death Penalty

NYTimes – Troy Davis

Thoughts about what can be done to change the system?

Will the removal of the death penalty be enough?

Keep questioning and take care,

S.

At one time or another, we have all been ashamed of who we are, what we look like, where we are from and the list goes on. And on other occasions, we have made someone else feel that shame too.

In high school, I was part of the my school’s journalism team. We wrote newspaper articles and also began creating online newscasts that included information about major school events, alumni, videos and photos. For the first webcast, I volunteered to be the anchorwoman. Once we finished editing the webcast, we posted it online for the students to view.

The next day, I walked into the courtyard where my friends were sitting. A close friend of mine, Maya, had watched the video and told me that I should come back to Hawai’i and be an anchorwoman after my career on Saturday Night Live because who wouldn’t want a former Saturday Night Live cast member delivering the news? A few moments later, one of my classmates turned around and said to me: “Sarah, you can’t be an anchorwoman, you’re not pretty enough!”

Despite her joking tone, I felt myself paralyzed with anger. I didn’t consider myself especially pretty or ‘hot’ and so, in some ways, I agreed with her. That night, I cried myself to sleep and my anger subsided. Instead, it was replaced with a recurring sense of inadequacy and frustration with my appearance.

I never realized it then, but after taking Women’s Studies and gaining an understanding about Feminism, I understood why my classmate’s comment continues to affect me. I felt inadequate as an entire person because the media has caused us to hate ourselves. Advertisements with photoshopped celebrities and models create unrealistic body figures and skin that have us frustrated and confused because without us, these corporations would not make billions of dollars each year. This emphasis on body image and appearance convinces us that we are valued based more so on our looks and less on our actions or intelligence. This doesn’t only affect women, it affects everyone, men and women, and how they think about how they should be.

Feminism has introduced me to plethora of issues that explain not only my own behavior, but the behavior of others. Women’s issues do not affect only women, they affect everybody. It is frustrating and alarming how comfortable we are with sexist attitudes.

WIth this blog, I hope to spread awareness and hopefully gain more insight about social justice issues, feminism, gender and learn about how to maintain an optimistic state of mind during my journey through life.