White privilege strikes again, but this time in a Dallas courtroom


Nefsa’Hyatt Brown, a native of Mobile, Ala. and a senior political science major served as the editor-in-chief of The Hornet Tribune for two years. After graduation next week, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in public policy and a law degree in her quest to become a United States diplomat.

Nefsa'Hyatt Brown, Editor-in-Chief

“Amber Guyger gets 10-year murder sentence for fatally shooting Botham Jean,” a CNN headline reports on Oct. 3.

As an African American woman, of course the only thing that I could even feel at the moment was disappointment. If anything, it was expected.

Now, of course, once you go onto Twitter and any other social media site prior to the verdict, one would see a black judge and assume the best. However, once the sentence was administered the feelings among society quickly changed. It was at that moment we noticed, that despite black representation, white privilege will forever have a special place in the criminal justice system.

In other words, it didn’t matter that there was a black female judge, all that mattered was that the victim was black and the perpetrator was white. Instead of being painted as a criminal the perpetrator is given mercy.

The family is expected to show sympathy and the woman is allowed to shed a few tears, explain how she didn’t mean to hurt him, and everything is swept under the rug.

But if we look at facts we understand that Guyger not only walked into in an apartment that was an entire floor above hers, she saw a man sitting on his couch, in his apartment, eating ice cream, and killed him because she thought he was an intruder. From this, we also know that when she shot, despite him not being a threat to her at all, she shot to kill. No warning shots, she just simply killed the man sitting on his couch.

In the current political climate, it is easy for everyone to blame this senseless killing on racism. They see a white woman who is both a police officer and now a convicted murderer and a black man who was unarmed and no threat to Guyger.

Understanding this in her testimony Guyger was sure to continuously remind the jury that she only shot Jean out of fear not racism. However, her tears and continuous sniffling in the microphone did nothing more than remind me why she got 10 years with the option of parole after five. Because she, as some criminals who are white, play heavily on public sentiment in order to get a lighter sentence.
We’ve seen it time and time again. A white person commits a crime and instead of them being portrayed as the criminals they are, in the eyes of the law, they are innocent citizens who simply made a mistake. Guyger’s case followed suit. Instead of taking responsibility for her actions, it was clear that she was advised to play the innocent victim.

It almost felt as if she was a child. A child who did something bad but didn’t know any better. None of this negates the fact that Guyger killing this man was both “unnecessary and unreasonable” in the words of Assistant District Attorney Jason Hermus.

With all of the evidence presented against her to show the faults in her argument, the entire case itself is still interesting. From her tears, to the victim’s brother hugging her and forgiving her in the courtroom, the judge gifting her with a Bible – it all makes me skeptical. In total, it makes me question why?

Why is the family expected to be sympathetic to the woman who shot and killed their family member in the comfort of his own home? Especially when everyone in the room knows that if the roles were reversed, her family more than likely, would not have shown Jean’s the same compassion.

Another why stems from the behavior of the judge …why give her a Bible? Why offer her words of wisdom and tell her what verse to start reading? Not saying that judges and members of the criminal justice system are not supposed to show sympathy but it just feels so misplaced in this case. If anything it feels very inappropriate.

As argued time and time again on social media, one should not allow their emotions to cloud their better judgement in a case such as this. Of course, because a person died this particular case is sensitive, but that does not negate the fact that she should take responsibility for her actions.

Furthermore, she deserved more time than she received for not only killing an unarmed man in his apartment but being reckless as a police officer. She swore to protect and serve, and her carelessness, in this case, cost someone’s life. A “mistake” that could have easily been avoided if she paid more attention.

As a normal civilian, I much like others hold those in positions of power to a higher standard. More importantly, I know that she knew better and given her testimony she wishes that she had done something differently. But, we cannot live in the past. The deed is done and now she must pay the price. I hope that she takes this time to reflect on her actions. Furthermore, I hope she realizes that she unlike others is speaking from a place of privilege.

She received a slap on the wrist for murder. Others who look like me wouldn’t be so lucky.