As I checked my Facebook page early this morning, I was shocked at what I saw. It wasn’t the standard barrage of meaningless or self-absorbed status updates (of which I am guilty of at times). It was the unified voice of a generation. My generation to be specific. As I browsed through my news feed (the area where you can see what all of your contacts are talking about) it seemed as if every member of my “Facebook family” was united over the Troy Davis controversy. The interesting part is that the majority of the people I’m connected with on the site are in 20-30 year-old age bracket. Here are a few of the posts:
- Just goes to show how unjust and prejudice OUR judicial system STILL is. RIP Troy Davis.
- RIP Troy Davis #tears.
- God bless his family and give them peace during this moment in time.
- Saddened by the death of an innocent black man, frustrated with the justice system.
- One posted the following Malcolm X quote: If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.
I could write an entire entry consisting of nothing but posts. And these comments weren’t just from other blacks. Blacks and whites took notice of this significant moment in American history. For whatever the reason may be (deeper than the average social injustice), the situation surrounding Troy Davis struck a chord with my generation in a way that few things ever have. Something about Troy Davis and his plight really made people genuinely upset at the justice system of this country. Earlier tonight, filmmaker and activist Michael Moore was a guest on the Current TV news show, Countdown with Keith Olbermann. During the interview he demanded that his recently released book, Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life, be pulled from the state of Georgia.
I profess that I haven’t really been in the loop of this case. I heard the name in the news recently, but I didn’t know the history behind the man and his battle against the legal system in Georgia until yesterday. To put it briefly, Davis was convicted in the murder of an off-duty police officer in 1989 and sentenced to death in 1991. In the ensuing years many witnesses changed or recanted all or part of their testimony. New evidence arose that seriously questioned whether he committed the crime. He successfully stayed three previous execution dates, but after a last minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, he was executed last night at 11:08 p.m.
The entire situation surrounding his execution has really opened up a can of worms pertaining to the racial divide of the American legal system and the purpose of the death penalty in general. One story I read reported that the slain officer’s mother expressed that she would be at peace once Davis was executed. I’ve never lost a loved one due to murder and only she knows deep in her heart if she really believes Davis committed the crime or not. Under any circumstance, I will not judge her for having those feelings. Whether he was truly innocent or not, the general consensus among the American people is that a grave travesty of injustice occurred.
One positive thing to come out of this situation is that young people are talking about important issues again. Instead of using Facebook to vent about a failed relationship or complain about the new layout (which is very confusing), the vast majority of my peers used it as a forum to discuss a relevant social topic.
Social media is a powerful tool that can cause great change when used in the proper context. For those who really feel that an injustice occurred, use Facebook and Twitter as a means to civilly voice your discontentment to your local, state, and national policy makers and members of the judicial system. Several political figures have Facebook and Twitter accounts which are operated by members of their staff ( and some by the actual people themselves). If this situation really matters to you, then do all you can to ensure that another act of injustice such as this will not happen again.