Filed Under:  Columns, OpEd, Opinion

I suffer from ‘oppressia’

23rd December 2013   ·   0 Comments

By David Dennis Jr.
Contributing Writer

I went to my doctor yesterday to get some medication. I suffer from a distinct, untreatable disease. I’m Black and I suffer from Oppressia. Just let it be known now, in case I somehow get arrested for a crime I commit.

Just last week a Fort Worth judge, Jean Boyd, let teenager Ethan Couch off the hook for killing four people in a drunk driving accident based on the fact Couch suffered from “affluenza.” The “disease” basically means that Boyd comes from such an affluent family and has been so spoiled all of his life that basic human rules of decency don’t apply to him. Since Couch has been given everything, he doesn’t know better. Basically, his parents’ wealth excuses him from murder.

Couch was 16 and only had his driver’s license for two months. He wasn’t supposed to be able to drive anyone younger than 21 in his car. He got drunk. He drove 70 miles per hour down a winding road. He killed four people. According to the judge, he did all of these things because he’s rich. The poor kid is so afflicted with millions that he doesn’t know right from wrong.
Where can I sign up for this disease? Is there a really expensive bottle of water Couch and I can share to pass on the affliction? Are there millions of dollars his family would like to pass on to me to release themselves of this debilitating circumstance. I’ll gladly take on their financial burden.

However, I’m not sure if I’m totally safe for society. I have illnesses too. I have a disease that comes from years of seeing people act destructively without consequence. I have Oppressia.

How is this related to Affluenza? Let’s compare.

Ethan couch grew up in an environment where consequences don’t matter. Where, because of his social status, he wasn’t taught right from wrong (allegedly). He never saw people punished for their actions so he felt he could act accordingly. This, now, is a disease that is tantamount to insanity in that it’s severe enough to get him out of going to jail.

I suffer from a similar disease. I’ve lived a life watching people flourish without consequences. I saw what happened when a government simply refuses to take care of the citizens of one of its major cities. I’ve seen a country initiate wars on undeserving nations. I’ve seen police stop and harass people of color, even resorting to murdering unarmed innocents and not face jail time. I saw the George Zimmerman trial. Trust me, I know all about what it means to be privileged. And I’m not quite sure I know what it means to be rightfully punished for a crime.

So where does this put me when I shoot someone and want to avoid jail for committing a crime? What if I rob someone because I want to just take what’s mine without asking for it? Isn’t that what this country was built on? This is the history I was always taught. Will a judge let me off the hook because I suffer from Oppressia: the lack of understanding of right and wrong based on lessons taught to me by oppressors?

If so, I know a few million people afflicted with the same disease I have. You do too. They’re toiling away in the prison economic system that this state’s economy is based upon.

Katrina was one of the most grave injustices in American history. An entire city was neglected, cast away and left to its own devices to survive while our own government acted as if the victims were the criminals. Then, the spoils went to the highest bidders while our children were left to the wolves.

The children of this city know all too well what it’s like to see neglect, destruction and incompetence treated without remorse or consequence. So, I hope the hospitals across the city and country are staffed up. There are going to be long lines. We all need tests and expert opinions.

We all suffer from Oppressia.

This article originally published in the December 23, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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