The “presumption of innocence” isn’t a right enjoyed by all in the United States.
Ask any black man who scans his surroundings on the sidewalks, in stores, on the roads, to find out where the cops are and mentally assess if there’s anything — about his appearance, his clothes, what he’s carrying, how he walks, what he drives — that may turn the constant presumption of his guilt into a dangerous situation.
The tragic list of Trayvon Martins, Kalief Browders, LaQuan MacDonalds, Philando Castilles, Tamir Rices and Emmet Tills is long. It is the brutal history of this nation.
Ask a black woman who enters a place of business and has the audacity to raise her voice or complain or contest her bill, or to change lanes on a quiet road without using a signal. The presumption of her guilt may get her arrested, or worse.
And ask any woman or girl who experiences sexual harassment or assault.
She may tell you that she reported the incident and was presumed guilty of the attack against her because of her clothing, attitude, untrustworthiness, wild imagination, shameful desire or her femininity itself. Or she’’ll tell you that she didn’t report the assault because she’d either internalized the presumption of her guilt or was deeply aware that others had.
By contrast, white males with higher economic status are almost always presumed innocent.