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Stand Your Ground is a look into how racism plays a role in our judicial system. This paper reflects on how literature can sometimes give you a closer glimpse into history than a textbook; the correlation between the trial of Tim Robinson in the book “To Kill A Mockingbird” and various trials throughout history that have led to convictions without physical evidence, that were based solely on lies through eyewitness testimony; how Anglo-Saxons felt about discrimination; how African-Americans felt about discrimination; how statistics show clear evidence of racial disparity in death row convictions that have now been overturned due to DNA evidence that was not available when they were arrested; and how different mediums, i.e. news, magazines, books, movies, etc… can shed light on discrimination not only on a historical basis, but through current events. In conclusion this paper will prove that in the 1900’s it didn’t matter who lied on you, if you were black you were a criminal, and if you were white you were right. It will also shed light on how the tides have slowly changed over the years leading to honest discussions about racisms role in our judicial system. Key Words: Racism, Discrimination, Justice, History, White, Black, Convictions, Literature, Disparity, Trials, Evidence, DNA, Lies, Change
If we don’t study history we are doomed to repeat it. Reading is a fun way to learn about history because you get involved in the most intimate details of the characters lives. There have been several really good books that address racial tensions and how we have progressed as a nation. A prime example of this is the book, “To Kill A Mockingbird” regarding the trial of Tim Robinson. Most convictions in the 1900’s were based on lies with very little and sometimes no evidence. If a white person said a black person committed a crime, everyone assumed they were telling the truth. Unfortunately not much has changed over the years, as evidenced by George Zimmerman vs. Trayvon Martin, the Central Park Five, and even situations like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who continuously violates the Civil Rights Act creating laws targeting minorities, and encouraging a “posse” mentality. Racism is not just a piece of history that we have learned from and changed our ways. One look at the percentage of wrongful convictions on death row is all we need to convince us of that. It would be nice to live in a world where we only read non-fiction stories about the struggles of discrimination. We have come a long way, but we must continue to learn and evolve so that as a society we do not continue down this path of hatred and intolerance.
In the book “To Kill A Mockingbird”, we are taken on a journey of disbelief as we watch Tim Robinson fight for his life because it’s just assumed that any African-American would rape any white woman, given the chance. During this trial we get to see two very different perspectives. Mayella and her father tell the story everyone expects to hear, with the town backing them up every step of the way, describing Tim as the town’s nightmare and painting him as a wicked beast acting out of animalistic lust. Tim simply tells the story no one wants to hear, otherwise known as the truth. This story shines a mirror towards the townspeople who don’t want to face the fact that they are acting out of their own hatred towards black people in general, relying on stereotypes as facts to justify the oppression of an entire race of people who they feel are inferior. While this is a fictional depiction of reality, the fact remains that during this time period Anglo-Saxons had a generalized view of discrimination feeling that they were justified based on their superiority.
This perspective was passed down through the generations and ran rampid, not only in society but in the armed services and even the white house. In 1901 Teddy...