By Rickey Hampton, Editor and Founder of The African-American Athlete
This is a perfect case study regarding the perceptions some people have of the African-American community. Bryan Stevenson, a noted civil rights attorney who happens to be black, arrived for court early in order to prepare for an upcoming case.
This was the first appearance in this court for Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. He sat down at the defense counsel table as he had hundreds of times in his career, and awaited the arrival of his client. The presiding judge walked in and saw Stevenson sitting there. He admonished Stevenson, telling the attorney that he never lets ‘defendants’ sit alone in his courtroom without their lawyer.
Stevenson responded by identifying himself as a lawyer. The judged laughed. The prosecutor laughed. Stevenson laughed, too but only because he felt he had to in order to give his client the best opportunity in front of the judge.
But what Stevenson, a Harvard educated lawyer, dressed professionally in a suit and tie, wanted to know was why the judge would simply assume he was the defendant?
Does this judge look at all black men, no matter what their attire, no matter what their educational background, or life experiences and character references are, in the same manner?
This is yet another burdensome fact of life when you are black in America.
Check out Stevenson in this powerful video, and share it with your friends. And, continue to visit us at TheAfricanAmericanAthlete.com. Our mission is to celebrate the accomplishments of the African-American athlete in and out of the arena, and discuss issues of the black community.