On November 30th, 2016 I attended a film for the Gender and Women's Studies Film Society. The film, Out in the Night, showcased the lives of four women of color and the relation to racial discrimination and sexual orientation. These four women were convicted of a crime that would completely changed their lives. Patreese, Venice, Renata, and Terrain were the 4 out of 7 to be convicted and found guilty, while the other 3 pled 'not guilty'. In the their defense, the NJ4 (New Jersey 4) pleaded 'not guilty' because of self-defense. The surveillance cameras outside the shop where the incident happened showed the man approach the women first. The cameras did indeed show that the women were fighting in self-defense, however, the judge presiding over the court was a tough judge and ordered the jury to base their judgement on the fact that these women 'ganged up' on one individual and also involved a weapon. With this in mind, the 4 who plead 'not guilty' were convicted and sentenced to prison. Venice was given 5 years, 3.5 for Terrain, 8 years for Renata, and 11 years for Patreese.
When watching this film I felt that this related to our discussion to Color Blindness and Color Brave in Melody Hobson's Ted Talk. Melody Hobson discusses how in our society race is plays a factor in decisions and outcomes. In the film the four girls were not only prosecuted for their sexual orientation but their race had done its favor in the case. These four women were convicted of a crime that was initiated as an act of self defense. Patreese, one of the women, had a pocket knife on her which she used as a weapon of self defense. In trial this was not taken into consideration. Society ignored that they were African American but because she had taken the action of stabbing the attacker. Even though this may be apparent, their race also played a factor into why they did not receive a fair trial.
This case was truly eye opening. It was upsetting and frustrating watching these girls who did not receive the justice they deserved. They were enjoying a night out with friends when a man started attacking them not the other way around. It was relieving when seeing the footage that they women were not in the wrong and their sentences were decreased. Their community around them demanded for their justice to be served. This is important in youth work to not only work with youth and create these safe spaces but the concept of community for everyone no matter race, gender or sexual orientation. (An example being Youth in Action)