Commentary: We can’t let the administration trick us

Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Commentary: We can’t let the administration trick us
November 08
12:30 2019

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Halloween just passed in America. This is a time when kids go out and collect goodies from adults. During my coming of age, Halloween was safe. We only got treats, no tricks. We went door to door with our bags and came home without incident.

Now the American people are in a trick-or-treat mode. We are being tricked by the president of the United States of America. He is running roughshod over our values. Rules and regulations aren’t adhered to by him. He uses executive privilege at the drop of a hat. He has stretched the truth until it is now broken. In its place are alternative facts and lies.

He uses various platforms to advance his causes. Just recently, he used Benedict College, an HBCU in Columbia, S.C., to advance his criminal justice initiative. How in the world did Benedict College get on his radar screen? Was it because one of his greatest supporters, Lindsey Graham, is a senator from South Carolina? Was it because he has developed a newfound appreciation for Historically Black Colleges and Universities? Or maybe he saw this as an opportunity to use and appease African Americans.

My thinking is based upon the fact Benedict College had fewer than 10 students at the event. How can that be? Benedict College didn’t sponsor this event. If so, they would have had more students to attend. I suspect some agreement was reached to have students stay away from the event.

The program held at Benedict College was to discuss criminal justice reform. Black people don’t have a good relationship with the criminal justice system as it has created a backlog of misery and pain for our families and friends. We have fallen victim to the injustices of the system. Witness tampering, evidence mismanaged and overzealous prosecutors have led us to being incarcerated when we should not have been.

What does this new round of criminal justice reform mean for us? During the current administration, the First Step Act was passed. It provides training and programs for men and women while incarcerated. Has this had any impact? Yes, according to Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. He said, “Under administration of both parties, we’ve seen reductions to the sentencing guidelines, especially for drug sentences.”

In attendance at this event sponsored by the 20\20 Bipartisan Justice Center was Alice Johnson, who was sentenced to 50 years in prison, but was released after serving 22 years. The justice system has always seemingly given black and brown people longer and harsher sentences. Some would say the system is stacked against us. In some ways, the president agrees. He said at the conference, “There’s still work to do, but I can say on this day a change has been made and we are looking forward to things to come.”

Bits and pieces of hope is how I would describe his message at Benedict College. The president since the election has declared himself the champion of black people. However, only a few African Americans have joined him in his self-adulation.

While at Benedict College, he extolled the good virtues of the institution. Yet Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, is holding up funding for HBCUs. The president speaks with an unethical voice. We as black people are being bamboozled and played with like a yo-yo. The president’s history of race relations will not fly with me or with many others.

Benjamin Crump, famed attorney for the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, recently penned a book entitled “Legalized Genocide of Colored People: Open Season.” In it, he lays out compelling cases about black people being wronged by the criminal justice system. One of the chapters in his book is titled Caught Up in the System. The president should read this book as he shapes his criminal justice reforms. It would help him.

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator and can be reached at

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