5 Reasons You Don’t Care About The UAlbany Bus Case, Even Though You Really Fucking Should

by Masai Andrews/Medium

“On January 30th, 2016, three Black University at Albany students boarded a city bus heading to the UAlbany campus. The bus was crowded with intoxicated white students. Words were exchanged between the sober Black women and the drunken white passengers. A racially charged discussion ensued, racial insults were thrown at the Black women, and, predictably, a fight broke out. [Two of the Black women called 911, and were eventually convicted for falesly reporting the incident.] They face up to two years in prison upon sentencing.”— Huffington Post, 5/1/17

1) CARING IS HARD, AND YOU’RE LAZY/BUSY:
This case forces people to look beyond the surface level to understand why what’s happening is an injustice. It’s hard to care about annoying college students. It’s hard if you believe that plausibly “lying” or “exaggerating” somehow means they deserve to rot in prison. It’s hard if you believe physical violence is the only kind of violence. It’s hard to care when news reports tell you not to. It’s important for people to realize, even if everything the DA and cops say is true, that’s not a good enough reason for these women to be thrown in jail. It was a fight on a bus. Just like any of a hundred SUNY fights that happen every year. Those kids don’t go to jail. Why is the law being enforced unequally? Because they called 911 and gave their side of the story? It may be hard to move beyond surface level thinking, but that’s exactly what they’re counting on. Don’t fall for it.

2) THERE’S NO DEAD BODY (YET):
Unlike many recent high-profile injustices, these Black women aren’t dead. And because of that it’s easy to think this case doesn’t matter. But consider this… If the Black UAlbany students were killed by the police after calling 911, nobody would care about what they said to the disbatcher or on Twitter after the incident. But instead of murdering these women, the State is trying to wrongfully imprison them. We can’t reserve or compassion and sympathy only in instances when Black people stop breathing. Imprisonment is still state violence, and these women, if incarcerated, will be in serious physical danger. Let’s not wait until they’re dead before acting. To quote Asha Burwell, “Just because I didn’t die doesn’t mean I don’t deserve justice.” Damn straight.

3) YOU THINK THEY’RE LYING:
Remember, they were acquitted of ALL OTHER CHARGES (assault, harassment, falsely reporting to police) except for the charges of falsely reporting to 911 dispatch and on social media. This means they’re being charged for telling their side of the story publicly. Think how dangerous it is to charge people for calling for help. Is it worth discouraging people from calling 911? What if your life is in danger and witnesses are reluctant to call first responders for fear of being prosecuted if they’re not believed or 100% accurate? These women didn’t call 911 for no reason. They’d just been in a serious fight. It’s not like they yelled fire in a theater. It’s NOT worth the risk of charging women who call for help if they don’t relay everything perfectly in the midst of a crisis. What the DA is saying with these charges is that 911 is for white people, and Black women need to deal with emergencies on their own. This is a dangerous precedent.

4) YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT BLACK WOMEN:
If you’re Black, you know Black people are not believed when they talk about their lived experiences. If you’re a woman, you know women are not believed when they convey their lived experiences. Black women deal with this doubly. And society has been conditioned into thinking Black women are loud, aggressive, liars undeserving of protection. There’s a reason people came out in droves for Philando Castille and not Korryn Gaines, who were both armed. You’re not impervious to racial or gendered bias, and that’s part of the reason this case might not seem important to you. And that’s part of the reason you’re wrong.

5) IT’S EASIER TO BASH TRUMP THAN TO FIGHT ACTUAL LOCAL INJUSTICES:
How many of you showed up for anti-Trump rallies? Pride? Women’s March? Fucking Tulip Fest? Why would you show up to these events but not show up when actual Black women are being maligned by the courts? There’s a rally tomorrow that actually matters. You should do everything in your power to be there, especially if you have the audacity to call yourself an ally. And if you can’t attend you should be sharing the rally with your networks, inviting people on Facebook, donating to their fundraiser, and changing your profile pics in solidarity like you did for Paris/Manchester/London/wherever-the-fuck-else. Resistance is more than fighting oppression that you’re comfortable fighting. Resistance is not trendy symbolism. Resistance means following Black leadership and the leadership of the most marginalized. If this case doesn’t seem like a worthy cause, that’s because your privilege doesn’t allow you to see the context and implications of what’s happening. The world is not a safer place by putting two Black college students in jail. This prosecution has made your community more dangerous. The University and the DA have literally put every member of the Albany community in harm’s way.

6) BONUS – ASSISTANT DA FALLON IS A MONSTER:
A New York State caseworker has confirmed today that the Albany County DA’s Office has been using the conviction of the Black UAlbany women to pressure survivors of domestic violence into recanting their victim statements, or risk facing prosecution for false reporting. Read that sentence again. That’s a real thing that’s happening in Albany, and unfortunately I have to leave it at that (for now).

This week, Patrisse Khan-Cullors (BLM Co-Founder) and Heather Cronk (SURJ Co-Founder) uplifted the UAlbany case to their national networks. Like it or not, this is one of the most important racial justice cases of our time. When we look back on the UAlbany Bus Incident, will you be on the right side of history?

•RSVP/SHARE FRIDAY’S RALLY: http://tinyurl.com/packthecourtualbany
•DONATE TO FUNDRAISER: https://youcaring.com/ualbanywomen-838155
#DefendBlackWomenUAlbany


Masai Andrews is an artist, organizer, and uncle from Albany, NY.

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