They stick out like two raisins in ex-President Donald Trump’s Fulton County Jail Oatmeal. Harrison William Prescott Floyd and Trevian Kutti – the only two Black people charged along with 17 others in an 98-page indictment brought by Georgia’s Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in Atlanta recently.
In fact, the pair seem to have the dubious distinction of being the only Blacks caught up in the now quadruple indicted ex-president’s alleged crime spree in three states (Florida, Georgia, New York) and the nation’s capital. Except for a couple of Hispanic folks mired in Flordia’s Mar-a-Lago alleged stolen secrets documents case, everybody else looking for a good criminal defense attorney in Trump land these days appears to be non-Hispanic White.
What does Floyd and Kutti’s precarious position before the court say about Black America? A lot. We live in age where racism disguised as education reform rewrites American history to teach the benefits of slavery for the enslaved. We bear witness to Black people being murdered in mass shootings by semi-automatic, gun toting White nationalists looking to start a race war by targeting people grocery shopping or stopping in the Dollar store.
Hard won advances in civil rights designed to give Black Americans an equal shot, just a shot, at the American dream got scrapped by the U.S. Supreme Court. Affirmative Action gone. The Voting Rights Act gutted. Don’t even talk about Critical Race Theory (CRT) – the study of how laws and public policy created to enforce first slavery, then racial segregation and their lingering effects in society today is being attacked across the country.
The Irony and Shame of it all
Ironically, all these setbacks happen after America elects the first Black President with Barack Obama and now Vice President with Kamala Harris. Their ascension to the highest offices in the land signals racial progress. So does the appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman on U.S. Supreme Court. That we are still counting first Blacks at all in the 21st Century is troublesome. Still progress is progress.
Now comes center stage at this moment in African American history – The Two: Floyd and Kutti. By all accounts they rise as accomplished examples of what we as Black Americans can achieve when we do right. Go to school, get an education, start a business and make your way in the world. Kutti is known as a publicist and businesswoman, having represented musical super stars R. Kelly and Ye aka Kanya West. Floyd reportedly served as a U.S. Marine and started a national political organization. Both reportedly graduated from college. Ah yes, they represent in many respects, the dream of success imagined on the long road to freedom for African Americans by the ancestors.
Even so, success comes with a price. Everyone endures personal struggles just to get ahead. And today, after all Floyd and Kutti must have struggled to achieve in their lives, they stand before the people of Georgia and America as defendants in an alleged racketeering criminal conspiracy to overturn a free and fair election – in Atlanta, the heart of Black America, the center of Historically Black Colleges, the root of Black struggle and the symbol of Black achievement. Culturally, it just doesn’t get much Blacker than Atlanta anywhere in America.
The irony and shame of the situation the Black defendants find themselves in as co-defendants with Trump in Atlanta is as thick as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thomas, a Black man himself who benefitted from Affirmative Action policies to get his education, weighing in to dismantle it for those who come behind him.
This is the part of the criminal proceedings to watch. What is going to happen to the two Black defendants, bit players in a national drama unfolding in the shadow of a presidential election, surrounded by an all-White cast of alleged co-conspirators; many of great means and influence? White privilege is a well-known benefit in society – even when facing criminal prosecution. Republicans at the state and federal level are already working to bring pressure to bear on the case.
Yes, all 19 indicted co-defendants are presumed innocent of the charges until proven guilty. Still, few would be surprised if Trump and his well-heeled co-defendants wiggled their way out of this situation, while the not so heeled, not so privileged don’t fare as well.
Of course, only time will tell. The symbol of Lady Justice as a woman blindfolded is supposed to mean justice is served equally regardless of wealth, power or social status. Let’s see if that rings true here and Lady Justice eats all of Trump’s Fulton County Jail Oatmeal or simply plucks out the raisins to snack on and pours out the rest out all over America.
*Greg Bowens is a National Contributing Columnist for Blac Media based in metro Detroit. He’s also a public/media relations professional, political consultant, civil rights activist, co-founder and past president of the Grosse Pointes-Harper Woods NAACP Branch.