Blog #3: Value of Diversity

Although the population of Washtenaw county is roughly 70% white, the vast majority of our juvenile clients at the public defender’s office have been black and brown children.  As a black woman, this has been difficult for me to reconcile with, mainly because it just doesn’t make any statistical sense.  I asked myself last week, how can there not be a single white child in this detention center in a county that is 70% white? Part of me knows the answer to that question, but another part of me hopes that it’s merely a coincidence.  Whatever the case, my identity has naturally led me to identify more with our clients on a personal level, because in them I see my brothers, my nephews, my little cousins, the boys I grew up with…but it has also brought to my attention the glaring failures of the system when it comes to justice for young boys and girls of color.  And when I say “the system” I am not just referring to the judicial system, I’m also referring to the education system, the health system, the child welfare system, and how all of these work together to impact their lives and influence where these children will end up, whether in a prison cell or at a Fortune 500 company.

As I sit in the courtroom watching children who look like me get sentenced by a rich old white man or woman, I realize that what I do here cannot help them nearly as much as what I can do before they are standing in a courtroom, before they even commit a crime.  It seems that a lot of these kids do not have good role models in their lives, no one who has convinced them that they can be anything better, and I’m coming to realize that it is the responsibility of older men and women of color, especially those who are successful and educated, to step into these kids’ lives and be the preventive measure that they need, or else this problem doesn’t go away.  I’m thinking about volunteering at the Washtenaw County Boys and Girls Club when I come back to school this fall, because now that I’ve seen the bigger picture and how interconnected things are, it gives me the passion to want to do more.  We’ll see where that takes me…

One thought on “Blog #3: Value of Diversity

  • August 18, 2017 at 7:13 pm
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    What a profound post…thank you for sharing.

    Reply

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