This morning I read two articles on my way to work. To me they really set a picture of how far we have progressed as a nation, but still how we have so much further to go.
I’ll start with the one that was most heart wrenching. A young woman physically assaulted and violated at Stanford University. You can read her emotional, moving, response to the situation in this article. I read all 7,244 words, you should too.
A jury found her attacker guilty of three counts of felony sexual assault and was sentenced to…six months in jail. No, that is not a typo. I didn’t accidently put months instead of years. The judge was over lenient taking into account the young man’s age and position. There has been public outcry at the sentencing and a call for the judge’s removal from the bench. Media coverage has been heavily skewed. It took almost a year and a half for his mug shot to be released. Had this man been an underprivileged, minority with no criminal background would the same outcome had been set? I and many others don’t think so. So many young, less fortunate minorities go to jail for minor drug charges so much longer than this man who knowingly raped a woman. He was the benefit of what many view as “White Privilege”. Macklemore has a respectable song about the topic, but to really understand you have to have honest dialogue with intelligent people who don’t benefit from this real advantage.
In the same way there are double standards for men and women in society; there are advantages and disadvantages for privileged majorities and underprivileged minorities when it comes to the judicial system. This is a failure for a country that proclaims liberty and justice for all. At the core of it all, an able minded young man assaulted and a non-consenting young woman. Regardless of your race, class, occupation, or location try to put yourself in this situation, suppose it was your mother, sister, or daughter and ask if six months (eligible for parole in three months) is fair justice.
Then I read another article about the historic moment of Hilary Clinton clinching the democratic nomination.
Now I am not sold on either nominee just yet. I still have a lot of questions about Hillary; however, I do have a devout respect for history. Ninety-six years ago women did not have the right to vote. Now almost a century later a woman is the closest to being the president as any woman has ever been. It’s an amazing American progression to be proud of. Again I have my reservations about each candidate, but I do feel like Hilary would be better suited to close the gender inequality gap. I do believe she has the most experience and better qualifications to represent us internationally. I fear she may face the same bipartisan agendas our current president has faced, but I think she is better equipped for the job. It is inspiring and hopeful that fifty-one years ago African Americans couldn’t vote; and an African American president and family won the white house for two terms. And now an intelligent, qualified, Hilary Clinton stands of the precipice of more growth and representation of progress in our country.
Juxtaposing these two stories is when you get the full picture of what America is. It’s country that has the ability, resources, and openness to grow and change like no other. But one that still finds loopholes to benefit the societies most privileged while ignoring the problems faced within minority communities. There are still large disparities between the upper, middle, and lower class. There are still systematic race issues throughout the country. There are still gender equality issues throughout the country. But with the growth of technology and social media each individual has a more powerful voice, and opinions can be heard, read, and seen with the click of button. Social injustices can go “viral” and counter that of media biased. I have a more diverse group of friends then my parents ever did. And hopefully my children will have even more diverse group of friends than I do. The gender pay gap is smaller now than it was twenty years ago. There is a real opportunity for healthy understanding and relationships between people of all walks of life. I believe and pray for it with all my heart. And I believe in calling out the injustices and applauding the progressions until that balance is reached.