04 January, 2015

The Minister Who Went to Jail for Financial-Aid Fraud - The Atlantic

The Minister Who Went to Jail for Financial-Aid Fraud - The Atlantic:

America has a long history of using legal codes and elaborate
paperwork to keep the black middle-class from rising. In the mid-20th
century, as Ta-Nehisi Coates elaborated in his Atlantic story “The Case for Reparations,”
hundreds of black Chicago residents were forced to buy their homes on
contract, paying far more than the market value and often losing their
homes altogether. To upwardly mobile black families, today’s college
admissions and student loan process often feels like another version of
the same story. For Brazil, getting his students on a path to success
meant working around a series of obstacles that often seemed
intentionally designed to hold them back.

This context might not have been enough to earn Brazil a not-guilty
verdict. After all, he’d been caught on tape committing a crime. But
from Rodney King to Eric Garner, history has proven that a tape doesn’t
always lead to a conviction. And context certainly matters; a skilled
attorney and a sympathetic judge might have brought about a very
different outcome. After all, the judge in Latasha Harlins’s case saw
footage of Soon Ja Du shooting the 15-year-old in the back of the head,
yet he was moved enough by the grocer’s defense to give her probation
instead of jail time.