Yesterday was a gray, chilly April day in Oakland, and as a member of jury group #1010 I was required to show up in the Alameda County Courthouse (I argued I am self-employed, which sometimes gets me excused, but no). Here are a few sketches I did as I fought stultifying boredom, hoping I didn’t hear my name called over the speakers (but I hasten to add I believe in this kind of civic duty, and if chosen I will embrace my responsibilities — I served on a jury for a fascinating federal case years ago involving a confiscation of 70 tons of hashish on the high seas). It was an 8 hour day, and after the Chauvin trial folks on all sides are skittish, so jury selection for a trial that involves a Black man, a gun, a robbery and lots of cops is taking quite a long time. This courthouse is famous for the photos taken during the Huey Newton trial in the 1970s with the Black Panthers holding rallies on the front steps. One photo has legally-armed (at the time) Black Panthers outside the front doors; can you even imagine what would happen if that took place today? Bloody hell, that’s what.
But that was over 50 years ago and my god I’m old. I’m reminded of comments a racist family member made, who was a judge in the 60s-70s, opining about Angela Davis. Chilling and nauseating. But I won’t rant here about racism in the US as I get kind of riled up. (Side note: I was lucky enough to have Davis as a professor for a Women in Music class at CCAC in the 1980s and she was incredible; don’t think I’ve ever met a more intelligent or thoughtful woman in my lifetime. She was the antithesis of the scary Black woman firebrand militant the media painted her as in those days, and that bit of history looks quite different in light of the Chauvin trial, yes?)
Let’s all wake up, OK? White supremacism and bigotry is real, dangerous, and rotten and needs to be rooted out, especially in police departments and courtrooms. And in our own hearts.