Diamonds & Pearls

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CHAPTER THIRTY THREE-Reflection Leads to Redemption

2 Months Later....

                  Allah is fair. Allah is just. Allah is merciful.

                  People, unfortunately, are often not.

             As I sat in a courtroom and watched a lawyer attempt to defame me and make me the criminal as Jim Howards sat smugly on the other side of the room like he hadn't orchestrated the kidnapping of a teenage girl, I wanted to scream. I held back the tears as I glared at him and everything that he represented. He was a criminal. He'd hurt so many people, yet that's not what anyone saw. They could not see anything past his blond hair, blue eyes, and pale skin. He wasn't what they believed a criminal was supposed to look like. I was.

             Watching and listening to the lawyer in front of me paint him as a gentle leader of his community and some type of savior for poor kids in the projects angered me. I felt like my blood was boiling in my veins. I'd seen literal proof of him sending teenage boys into the projects to sell drugs to young kids. I felt like I would explode in my seat. My lawyer must have felt the heat rolling off of me in waves because he looked over at me worriedly before telling me to breathe and that everything would be fine.

              But all I could think about was how the bad guy always wins. This isn't a world for good people. Evil people prosper and good people suffer here. This isn't our paradise. It never will be.

              Stay positive...

              I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.

              Regardless of what happens here, Allah is the final judge. Justice will be served.

              I tried to keep that in mind as the opposing lawyer again and again, tried to defame my character and elevate Jim Howards'. How could this man stand here and do this to a sixteen-year-old girl? Then suddenly stories that my mother had told me as a young girl about people assuming that she was wrong no matter the situation because of one small factor; her skin color. My parents never wanted my world to be shaped by the color of my skin. They warned me of the world I was facing but they never let racism hinder my growth.

             As I sat there, I realized that the story was never as simple as right and wrong. It was my word, the word of a young black girl whom no one actually saw as a girl, against the word of a seemingly reputable white man. For black people in this country, innocence isn't a right and neither is justice. At one point we were only considered three-fifths a human being. Although the law has changed, does that mean that the three-fifths mentality just disappeared? Because with the killings stretched from corner to corner of the country and the lack of empathy for the deaths of innocent human beings running rampant, I don't believe they consider us fully human.

              Not only did this jury see a black girl against a white man, they saw an American versus a Muslim. It didn't matter how American I actually was because they couldn't see that I was one of them. The hero versus the enemy is what they saw. There wasn't any way that I was winning in this situation. As I watched the opposing lawyer sell me to be a mentally disturbed, violent woman, I felt like running. I wanted to run as far away from that court room as possible but I couldn't. So I ran mentally. I descended deep into my mind. My therapist had been telling me not to do that. Deal with what's happening, she would say; acknowledge what you're feeling. Well, she didn't know what it felt like to be me.

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