Well, you lucked out. Six months. Fines because you were underage and drinking, not because you beat and kicked a man to death. Maybe you’ll be out by Christmas.
Your attorney stated that he was “disappointed” the sentence was so “harsh” and maybe you will appeal. Let me give you a real world assessment of your sentence: You were really fucking lucky.
You were lucky that you benefited from a racist system. You were lucky to have an all-white jury. You were lucky that you chose to murder somebody whom larger society doesn’t value.
You were lucky that you were born with white privilege, and even the heinous crime of killing a man might not make you aware that your shit stinks.
[Judge] Baldwin heard from several teachers, coaches and family friends who testified that the teens were good kids who fell into a bad situation. They urged leniency so the teens could realize their potential as adults.
Why is it that if teens of color were responsible for this sort of behavior, they’d call it wilding and use it as an example of their barbaric, uncivilized ways?
You’re “good boys.” You “fell into a bad situation.” Just like with Brisenia Flores and her father, this “situation” left somebody dead. Your fists and feet just happened to encounter another human being, whom you didn’t recognize. And even after he was unconscious, even after froth was coming out of his mouth, your feet just “happened” to connect with his head.
It’s all a matter of “perception.”
In the Vincent Chin case, Judge Charles Kaufman justified probation for Chin’s murderers by saying “These weren’t the kind of men you send to jail … You don’t make the punishment fit the crime; you make the punishment fit the criminal.”
White people see “a street brawl gone horribly wrong.” “Good kids” who shouldn’t be denied their futures. Men you don’t send to jail.
I see privileged killers.
I was once knocked down and beaten and kicked in the head by a white boy. And now I wonder why nobody ever pressed charges. Why I was made to feel that I was at fault. Why it happened so many years ago, and why I just realized that he should have been charged now. Just this minute. What does that say about my recognition of my own humanity?
Why does the statue of justice’s blindfold always seems to slip just a little bit, so that she can peek out and see the color of the defendants and the victims?
It took us twenty-seven years, but we went from probation to six months. And maybe we should be grateful, because before that we couldn’t testify in court at all.
Twenty-seven years ago, two white men took the life of a Chinese American named Vincent Chin. And they walked. You aren’t going to walk, but you’re not doing any kind of real time. So maybe you might keep your mouth shut after you get out of prison. Maybe you might reflect on the fact that you took a man’s life. Maybe you might want to think about redemption. If such a thing is even possible.
I can only hope your conviction will need to be explained when you’re job hunting. Maybe your prospective employer might search the internet for a little more information about you. Or maybe your new girlfriend will google you.
And maybe, just maybe, they will find out about Luis Ramirez. And they will know that you murdered him.
His name was Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala. He was twenty-five years old. He will never be able to “realize his potential.”