The people who were once considered black leaders
have reached their collective nadir. Ken Blackwell, Ohio’s Republican
Secretary of State, has written election rules so draconian that
anyone who helps another register to vote risks the possibility
of jail time. Chicago Alderwoman Emma Mitts has sided with Wal-Mart
in opposing living wages for her constituents. Andrew Young supports
ID requirements that will deny black voters in Georgia their right
to the ballot. He is also Wal-Mart’s highest paid shill. Now black
attorneys testify on behalf of white people who commit hate crimes.
Randall Kennedy is a black law professor at Harvard
University. He is best known for his book Nigger: The Strange
Career of a Troublesome Word. (See BC August
22, 2002) The need for such a book always eluded me, but Kennedy
managed to make a name for himself, quite a lot of money, and
a secure place on the speaking circuit.
His former colleague at Harvard, Derrick Bell, wrote
presciently about Kennedy in 1998. Bell taught a course called,
Race, Racism and American Law and gave Kennedy his blessing
to continue teaching it when he returned from a visiting professorship.
It was a decision I came to regret. Kennedy retained
the course name, but dropped its advocacy orientation. Disgruntled
students complained that Kennedy spent more time challenging and
even denigrating civil rights positions than he did analyzing
the continuing practices and policies of discrimination that made
those policies, whatever their shortcomings, necessary.
Bell could not have imagined how low Kennedy would
On June 29, 2005 Nicholas Minucci, who is white,
attacked Glenn Moore, who is black, in Howard Beach, Queens, New
York City. While beating Moore in the head, Minucci literally
added insult to injury by calling him nigger.
Minucci’s contends that he thought Moore was about
to commit a crime and Moore does admit that he was planning to
steal a car that night. Minucci’s other defense is that the word
nigger isn’t so bad. He heard black people use it, he heard it
in songs and music videos and concluded that it was no longer
The use of a racial epithet in the commission of
a crime turns it into a hate crime by definition. Hate crimes
are investigated more thoroughly and punished more severely. Minucci’s
freedom depends on making the case that he didn’t know he was
using a slur.
Randall Kennedy. Minucci’s defense attorney, Albert Gaudelli,
called Kennedy and asked him to testify for the defense. Kennedy
is attempting to weasel
out of his pro-defense testimony by claiming that his goal
was to “advance the aims of justice.” He added, "I do not
feel I was championing somebody's cause. I was asked to speak
as an expert witness about a particular issue. Somebody's liberties
are at stake here."
Minucci’s liberty ought to be at stake. He attempted
to act as judge, jury and executioner, which is illegal in America.
Perhaps Kennedy missed that day at law school.
“The word is a complex word. It has many meanings,”
the law professor opined. There are black people who argue that
the word is harmless among friends. Kennedy and Minucci prove
that this reasoning is faulty at best and dangerous at the very
Kennedy is hopefully the only black person who would
argue that a white person using the word nigger while simultaneously
hitting a black person in the head with a baseball bat was not
committing a hate crime.
Gaudelli was pleased as punch that he got a black
law professor to defend his client. “I think I did good; I got
a Rhodes scholar to testify for nothing and all I had to do is
drive him to the airport." Kennedy is a very cheap whore
but at least he was invited to be one. Hip hop producer and attorney
Gary Jenkins volunteered
to testify for Minucci and to display his ignorance and self-hate.
"Just like us lawyers have our club and we
wear our suits and carry our litigation bags, a white kid with
gold fronts and sagging britches, wearing his hat sideways ...is
an official hip-hopper and he gets a pass."
After Kennedy wrote Race, Crime, and the Law,
described by Derrick Bell as an apology for racism in the judicial
system, he still gave Kennedy the benefit of the doubt.
Surely, Kennedy cares about the plight of blacks
far less fortunate than himself. They need advocacy on a range
of racial issues involving the administration of the criminal
law. Why has he turned his back on that role and volunteered to
serve as objective moderator in an arena where the whites who
dominate policy making are not interested in mediation and welcome
his well-intended concessions as arguments against needed reforms?
Kennedy obviously doesn’t care about black people
and his intentions are the worst. He is an opportunistic self-hater
with all of the establishment’s top credentials, a very dangerous
The jury of 5 blacks, 4 whites and 3 Latinos had
better sense than Kennedy or Jenkins. They found Minucci guilty
of second degree assault as a hate
crime. He faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced
on July 15, 2006.
The conviction was not Minucci’s first in a bias
related incident. On September 11, 2001 Minucci fired a paint
ball at a Sikh temple while screaming, “F_ _ king Indians.” Does
Kennedy have a defense for that incident as well?
There is a greater tragedy that Kennedy and others
like him have created. He didn’t become an Ivy League graduate
and Rhodes Scholar on his own. Someone picked cotton in the South
or sugar cane in the Caribbean to help the family survive and
prosper. Someone worked three jobs to insure success in the family
and in the race.
If it is true that anyone rolls in a grave, it is
certainly true of Kennedy’s ancestors. If they had known how their
descendant would turn out they would have worked only one job
at a time and stayed out of cotton fields. Their blood, sweat
and tears were for naught.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears
weekly in BC. Ms. Kimberley is a freelance
writer living in New York City. She can be reached via e-Mail
at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read more
of Ms. Kimberley's writings at freedomrider.blogspot.com.