Dr. Boyce: If Casey Were Black, She Would Have Been Guilty

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In a recent Your Black World survey, readers were asked to ascertain the racial implications of the case of Casey Anthony, a mother who was recently exonerated in the death of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee. After the surprising not guilty verdict, people across the nation were wondering if Casey would have received the same treatment had her name been Laquita Jackson. In other words, would she have received the same treatment if she’d been a Black woman accused of killing her own child?

Results of the survey indicated quite clearly that African American respondents do not believe the verdict would have been the same if Casey had been Black. A full 86.3% of the respondents said that the verdict would have changed to “guilty” had she been African American. Only 4.2% said that the verdict would have been the same, with the remainder saying that they weren’t sure.

When participants were asked “Should Casey Anthony have been allowed to go free?” nearly two-thirds of the respondents (63.5%) said” no,” implying that they believe she is guilty of the crime. Only 14.5% of the respondents said they believe Casey Anthony to be innocent of the charges.

The survey also appears to be reflective of a general distrust of the criminal justice system by members of the African American community. When asked  “Do you think the justice system is fair with regard to race?” 94.3% of the respondents said “no.”

While the Casey Anthony trial can’t quite be compared with the racially-charged OJ Simpson case, the results of the survey seem to argue that people of color felt that Anthony’s skin color played a role in her being allowed to go free. One of the points of my first book, “What if George Bush were a Black Man?” was to investigate the idea that people of color don’t tend to get the same breaks and second chances that might be given to them if they were white. It’s hard to imagine a Black woman in the national spotlight for allegedly killing her child being allowed to walk out of the court room and move on with her life. This case, as well as the OJ Simpson trial (to a greater extent) taught us a few things about America.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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