Goff and his men had an explanation for the “accident.” They told the sheriff they’d only taken Howard down to the river so the boy’s daddy could give him a whipping. But Howard jumped into the river instead, drowning himself.
James Howard was threatened into supporting Goff’s version. Three days later, the Howards sold their house and left town. But not before Thurgood Marshall stepped in and requested that Florida Gov. Spessard Holland demand an investigation. The governor condemned the killing but told Marshall, “I am sure you realize the particular difficulties involved where there will be the testimony of three white men and probably the girl against the testimony of one Negro man.”
Marshall’s NAACP friend Harry T. Moore believed it was “a waste of time to seek help from state authorities.” He’d investigated dozens of lynchings in Florida and concluded, “The life of a Negro in Suwannee County is a very cheap article.”
Despite Marshall’s efforts, a Florida grand jury declined to indict Goff and his two accomplices. The Department of Justice never moved on the case, and the killing of Willie James Howard was soon forgotten.
- From “Florida’s History of Failed Justice,” by Gilbert King
By Guest Contributor Nabeelah, cross-posted from Kabobfest
“Have you ever tried a miniskirt?”, a pub regular asks the hijab-clad server who has spent the day serving soft drinks behind the bar. When she protests that she doesn’t want to, he assures her she would “look bloody lovely in a miniskirt,” giving her knee a stroke to make his point.
The regulars take the two slightly contradictory views that Asians should conform to British “ways,” whilst defending Britain’s superiority over the East as a tolerant and free society.
“When Asians come over here”, the knee-stroker argues, “do we say, ‘get it off kid, get a miniskirt on, get your tits out’? No. But when you go to an Asian country, women are told: ‘cover up’.” Another states: “When I go to Pakistan…I dress like they dress, out of respect. So at the end o’t’day, show some respect here.”
I can’t justify Ravi’s decision to invade his roommate’s privacy, especially not at a moment in which he would be extremely vulnerable. I also cannot justify Ravi’s decision to mess with evidence, even though I suspect he did so out of fear. But I also don’t think that either of these actions deserve 10 years of jail time or deportation (two of the options given to the judge). I don’t think that’s justice.
This case is being hailed for its symbolism, but what is the message that it conveys? It says that a brown kid who never intended to hurt anyone because of their sexuality will do jail time, while politicians and pundits who espouse hatred on TV and radio and in stump speeches continue to be celebrated. It says that a teen who invades the privacy of his peer will be condemned, even while companies and media moguls continue to profit off of more invasive invasions.
I’m also sick and tired of people saying that this will teach kids an important lesson. Simply put, it won’t. No teen that I know identifies their punking and pranking of their friends and classmates as bullying, let alone bias intimidation. Sending Ravi to jail will do nothing to end bullying. Yet, it lets people feel like it will and that makes me really sad. There’s a lot to be done in this realm and this does nothing to help those who are suffering every day.
— From “Reflecting on Dharun Ravi’s conviction” by danah boyd
(Image Credit: ABC News)