Separating the Good Ones From the Bad Ones


They executed Shaka Sankofa in spite of our protest.

A few days later I was discussing the event with a family friend who didn’t really approve of the whole civil disobedience concept. She also didn’t buy my line about how racist the criminal justice system was.

She said something to the effect of, “All this protesting and disruption, blocking traffic in Times Square? Why don’t you do anything positive? Like raising money for charity or volunteering?”

“…and to defend a rapist!!!???”

I don’t know what is so hard about the concept of systemic racism, or due process. In my opinion, white people have a disturbing tendency to evaluate the character of black people before deciding whether they deserve a fair hearing in the justice system. If you have fallen short of sainthood in any way, whether it’s by stealing candy or committing rape, the actual facts of any particular case no longer matter in the eyes of the white community.

That isn’t how it’s supposed to work.

And if I had been interested in raising money back then, I would have been raising it to burn the US government to the ground along with as many big corporations as I could take along with them.

But the idea of volunteering kind of got into my head. She was wrong, but she wasn’t completely wrong. There was something indulgent about the whole protest thing.

I could feel it deep inside.

I signed up to volunteer at a food bank in the Hartford area. When I arrived they set me up with a truck full of zucchini that was getting towards the end of its life, and they put me to work separating the good ones from the bad ones.

So I was wading around in the truck alone for a while, thinking that there was no way that this activity could possibly lead towards the righting of any wrong whatsoever. And also that it reminded me of working in Grandpa’s garden, and that I didn’t like handling rotting vegetables or doing very much manual labor at all.

And why didn’t I think to volunteer my coding skills somehow?

Then a short yellow school bus arrived and dropped off a small group of black kids.