Monday Musings: My Thoughts on Felicity Huffman

After I arrived home on Friday evening, I decided to hop onto social media. On Twitter, I saw that #WhiteSupremacy was trending. I then said to my husband, “White supremacy is trending on Twitter. Should I click the hashtag to find out why and possibly ruin this Friday evening?” He shrugged his shoulders. Being black in America, I know there is nothing good about #WhiteSupremacy trending online or being alive and well in real life. I knew I would find out eventually so I clicked the hashtag and discovered the fuss was around white actress Felicity Huffman.

On Friday, September 13, actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced for her role in the college cheating scandal. According to CNN, “The actress pleaded guilty in May to conspiring to pay $15,000 to a fake charity that facilitated cheating when her daughter took the SATs for college.” A Forbes article reported:

Huffman, an Oscar-nominated actress and a star of Desperate Housewives, will serve 14 days in jail for her role in the largest college admissions scandal in U.S. history. Huffman, 56, will report to prison on October 25, and the Bureau of Prisons will decide the facility.

U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani also ruled that Huffman will serve one year probation, pay a $30,000 fine and perform 250 hours of community service.

Her sentencing started an uproar online. Numerous people pointed out that poor black mothers have received more severe sentences for “stealing an education” when they have used a false address to obtain a better education for their children.

I am honestly surprised Huffman received any jail time. I fully expected her to received a fine and community service. She received what I expected plus 14 days behind bars. Yes, I think the time behind bars will make her think differently about her actions, albeit it a short time to think. I also wonder how her actions affected her daughter. Think about: your parents have no confidence in your ability to get in on your own merits, so they have your scores changed. It’s one thing to have the world not believe in you; it is a whole other level when your parents don’t.

I think the $30,000 fine is a slap in the face. When I think about the fines other people receive for other crimes, that fine is more like paying five cents.

Restorative justice is implemented in many schools across America. The purpose is not about punishing someone but about restoration to others who were affected. I’m not sure how Huffman spending 14 days in jail and paying a small fine is restorative. Nor do I believe the black parents who were jailed deserved any jail time. Instead, I would have like to see Huffman pay huge fines and that money be used as scholarship for impoverished students or used to improve schools. She stole an education so she needs to give back to the education system. I also believe she should have to give back over several years. They should have hit her pocketbook hard.

Apparently, Huffman’s sentencing woke up some individuals to the injustices of our justice system. Let me recommend Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness for those who need to fully wake up.

Now, we wait to see how Aunt Becky will be sentenced.

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