Essay title: Review on Randall Kennedy: Race and Justice
Being a history major I have read many different accounts from pre-civil war era on to the present, but these studies only gave a broad description on slavery and civil rights movements and barely ever went into detail on the unequal protection of the law that African Americans faced. I believe that we should have the knowledge of how our criminal justice system has failed so many throughout the past based simply on the color of their skin.
Kennedy gives us many examples of these injustices to help us understand the importance of this history. Kennedy quotes a slave, William Goodell, “is under the control of law, though unprotected by law, and can know law only as an enemy, and not as a friend.” After reading these two chapters I have to believe that many African Americans related to Goodell and had mistrust in the justice system. Much of the violence committed on African Americans during Goodell’s life was to assert and preserve white supremacy. By preserving white supremacy these people committed awful acts of raping, lynching, assault and battery and were never convicted by a system that supposedly imposes laws against these brutal crimes. Kennedy gives many examples of slaves being murdered for merely choosing to do a chore in a different manner than which their master has ordered them to do, and the murdered slaves master not being convicted. “Furthermore, even in those rare cases where killing of a slave did result in the conviction of an owner, the severity of the punishment was often less than would have been inflicted had the victim of the violence been white.
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” Rape is another subject that Kennedy brings to our attention. A heinous crime that is both demeaning and brutal was not seen as a crime if the woman was a slave, or should I say an African American because even a free woman if raped by a white man was unable to prosecute him. Yet white women would certainly have the right to prosecute an African American male and send him to his death even if he has only touched her arm. Throughout Reconstruction and further we learn that even with the freeing of the slaves this prejudice does not come to an end, with the forming of the Ku Klux Klan and Lynch mobs.
Kennedy gives us many very disturbing accounts of an African Americans being lynched. To read these accounts and believe that people can be capable of such violence against another simply because of the color of their skin scares me. But I believe.