June 15, 2006 - Issue 188

Freedom Rider
Randall Kennedy Defends Racist Violence
by BC Editor and Senior Commentator Margaret Kimberley

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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 sink.

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 offensive.

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.

Enter 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 worst.

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 enemy indeed.

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 [email protected]. You can read more of Ms. Kimberley's writings at freedomrider.blogspot.com.



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