On July 23, 2018, Cameron Terrell, a white male, was acquitted of murder after his alleged participation in a homicide that took place in California. He was the driver of the car. He was acquitted because it was said he was fascinated with gang culture and didn’t fully understand his actions. Did I mention he had a moniker for street cred? His fascination eventually leads to murder. Yet, because he’s white, he gets off while the black men who were with him get serious prison time (deservedly so, mind you). White justice. It is similar to a case in Texas where another juvenile white male was freed due to him being too wealthy (affluenza) to know that stealing a car, drunk driving, and killing four people was a crime. White justice.
Enter Daniel Hernandez, aka Tekashi 6ix9ine. He’s considered, by the Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne Tha God, as the second hottest rapper in New York at current. I don’t listen to his music. After watching a video with guns, gangs, and drugs, it’s refreshingly not my brand of emceeing. His youtube videos average almost 200 million spins. His quick rise in the rap game is considered by some “Trolling.” The more degrading, insensitive, offensive, hateful, distasteful, and disrespectful the statement that can generate a negative response, the more people want to get the music. Hence, trolling. In November of 2018, the rap artist was hit with RICO charges. These charges could eventually land him in prison for the rest of his life.
Here’s where the injustice comes in. How is it possible that two juvenile white males can commit murder and their “prestigious” family and lifestyle of the rich and famous is used as an excuse for them not to prosecuted and to walk away from murder charges scot-free? Yet, when it comes to people of color, the hammer is instantly thrown down. Don’t get me twisted, I don’t like his form of rap, but if it all holds true that we are a product of our environment, I understand where his music comes from. It does paint a harsh reality of urban communities that are torn to shreds by gang violence, but the penalties are not equal. How is it that a Black or Brown citizen can be punished for growing up in an impoverished environment, but white people can use privilege as a defense to escape murder charges and walk free? Is this how we make American great again?
President Trump recently announced, the same month of Daniel’s arrest, that he is supporting bipartisan efforts for criminal justice reform. “Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act,” or The First Step Act, H.R. 5682, is supposed to be the game changer for prison reform. I am not thoroughly versed on this proposed Act, but it’s an interesting read so far with lots of stipulations for the program.
Daniel Hernandez does not fit into the context of the First Step Act. The RICO Act was designed to keep you in prison forever and can land racketeering, trafficking, violence, mob action, and a host of other charges on an individual. At the end of the day, Tekashi will not get what his young, white, counterparts have received. He won’t get to plead societal deprivation; he won’t get to plead to trolling; he won’t get to argue that he’s a victim of circumstance for his surrounding and a product of his environment. Quite possibly, he might only get to say, it was fun while it lasted.
I’ll tap more into this Act in 2019. Be well and thanks for stopping by.