Releasing Paris Hilton early matters. It matters precisely because it is another example of what Sen. Obama talked about earlier this week in Virginia when he warned of a “quiet riot” in black communities that could erupt much like Los Angeles erupted in riots 15 years ago after the Rodney King verdict. Obama warned:
“Those ‘quiet riots’ are born from the same place as the fires and the destruction and the police decked out in riot gear and the deaths. They happen when a sense of disconnect settles in and hope dissipates.
“Despair takes hold and young people all across the country look at the way the world is and believe that things are never going to get better.”
Will Paris Hilton’s release spark riots? No. Clearly not. But what it highlights is a preferential judicial system that benefits the rich and the powerful. And since the rich and the powerful are more likely to be white than black, it is hard not to see it as racism.
After all, how many black women are serving jail sentences who have a medical condition and would love to be under house arrest rather than in a jail? How many black women in jail are scared, and sad and miss home? I’m guessing that there are a few.
Paris Hilton is irrelevant – truly. We pay attention to her only for what she symbolizes. And what she symbolizes here is socio-economic and racial discrimination.