There are roughly 10 million colors known to man.

But only two of them have everlasting human significance: black and white.

The murder case of Gabby Petito clearly illustrates this point. T

he nation’s primary media outlets and the cable news networks have filled American homes and workplaces, almost ad nauseam, with coverage of her domestic disputes with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, her murder in Wyoming, and his subsequent disappearance in Florida.

This is a white murder case whose interests have been fueled by white peoples’ interest in it. It is the kind of case that lights up social media and gives the aging hawkish crime fighter John Walsh another chance to insert himself in a crime limelight.

But why should a white murder case garner such a dominating share of media coverage and public interest when a black murder case, arising in a similar context, rarely makes the evening news unless it a slow weekend 30-second spot.

Let’s look at the facts here because “Black Lives Matter.”

The National Center for Victims of Crime reports that black women are 2.5 times more likely to be murdered than white women—92 percent of whom are killed by someone they know with 52 percent of this number involving a current or former intimate partner.

When was the last time you heard about a murder case in which a black man killed a black woman that garnered as much media attention and public curiosity as the Petito/Laundrie murder case?

You haven’t and I haven’t – unless it is a case that escapes my memory.

The difference is color: white is preferred over black.

In the early days of his legendary boxing career, Muhammad Ali expressed one of his many gifted social observations (and I paraphrase here) that the color white has always been associated with good like toilet paper while black has been associated with bad like blackmail.”

Why not whitemail?” Ali asked.

You might say people, especially white folks, prefer the light of day to the dark of night—the former signifying the happiness of day while the latter signifies the gloom of night.

Black people have always come up short in their dealings with other races.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History reports that the Atlantic Slave Trade between 1536 and 1867 saw some 12.5 million slaves shipped from Africa with 10.7 million being shipped to the Americas, both North and South, where they served white and brown masters.

And white Australians committed colonial genocide for years against black Aborigines through government sanctioned massacres.

And let’s not forget the racism and human mistreatment Asian people like the Chinese, Japanese and Korean people have inflicted upon Africans and black Americans. The same is true in all Nordic countries and in all the countries that once formed the Soviet controlled communist nations.

So, again, let’s look at the facts.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported that in 2018 some 613,000 people went missing in the United States with 60 percent of them being people of color. The Black and Missing Foundation in 2019 put the total number of missing black women and girls at 64,000.

Writing in the February 20, 2020 edition of Women Media Center, Treva Lindsey reported that:

“The tens of thousands of Black women and girls who are missing include abductees, sex trafficking victims, and runaways. Black women and girls exist at the intersection of racism and sexism, and quite often poverty. These barriers contribute to disparate and poor outcomes in many arenas, including but not limited to health, wealth, housing, education, employment, food security, access to water, and violence. It is therefore unsurprising that Black women and girls would be overrepresented among people missing in the U.S. They are uniquely vulnerable and too easily erased from public discussions about the alarming trend of missing people.”

There are legitimate social reasons for giving media coverage to the Gabby Petito murder case but not at the scale at which it has been covered, particularly given the fact that women of color, especially black women, comprise the lion’s share of those who endure domestic violence, murder, and go missing.

The Gabby Petito case underscores the horrific reality that women of color are marginalized by a biased media covering crime and criminal justice issues.


Hunt and rut

When man chose to leave the relative safety of the tree for an existence on the ground below, he had two primary survival objectives: hunt and rut. Hunting was necessary for the survival of the group while rutting was necessary to preserve the species.

Two things happened to man during the first couple thousand years of living on the ground.

First, hunting was so plentiful that man developed an instinctive desire for greed—the more he had, the more he wanted. Gradually the individual began to emerge as being more important than the group.

I once saw an experiment with chimpanzees. Researchers began putting bananas in a pile. As long the pile was small, the chimps shared the bounty. The researchers began to put more bananas on the pile. The chimps began to squabble and fight over the increased number of bananas. In the end, there was one dominant, aggressive chimp at the top of the pile fighting off any attempt by other chimps to take a banana. The problem that ensued was simple: Chimp King could not enjoy the full bounty of the bananas because his time was consumed defending the pile.

Second, rutting transformed itself from necessity to pleasure. The greater the pleasure, the more enhanced the desire for it became.

I saw another experiment. A monkey was in a cage. Researchers had to two red buttons: one gave the monkey a cocaine injection while the other button gave him pellets of food. The end result is that the monkey began to choose the cocaine/pleasure button over the food/necessity button. The monkey became so addicted to the pleasure/cocaine button that it abandoned the food/necessity button to the point that it just kept hitting that pleasure/cocaine  button.

So here we sit in America—arguably the most modern society in the world—still very much as hunters and rutters. The human with $50 billion wants a $100 billion and humans of every stripe seek to satisfy their insatiable appetite for pleasure through sex, drugs, alcohol, sports, parties, lounges and a thousand other outlets.

The end result?

We have hunted the world’s resources into near depletion and we have rutted to the point where there are nearly 8 billion humans on earth—more than the planet’s resources can accommodate.

Humans are sitting on the precipice of extinction. Colonies on Mars and the Moon will not save us from this inevitability.

Hunt and rut.

We do what we do—more to the point, it is all we know to do.


A day remembered

Yesterday Americans of every stripe remembered where they were, what they did, and how they came to grasp the enormity of “9/11”—the day the worst terror attack struck deep into the core of the American experience and forced each of us, in one way or another, to come to grips with the inevitable “cease to exist” facet of life.

We heard the thuds of the bodies of the victims who leaped into the inevitable rather than face the flames as they struck physical objects below. It only took seconds for them hurling downward at a speed of 150 MPH or 45 feet per second to reach the end of their life’s journey. The nation stopped, stood still in time trying to fathom a decision of whether to leap or face the flames.

The terror of that moment still haunts us all.

I was 55 years of age on September 11, 2001, and into my 35th year of incarceration. I was working in the prison laundry at the David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, Louisiana.

“Hey, guys,” Bob Howle, a former police officer and the laundry clerk, yelled out to the inmates working in the sweltering laundry, “some plane just flew into one of them buildings in New York.”

Laundry inmates gathered in the lobby area outside the laundry’s security office. We could see the news coverage, without sound, through the closed office door and plate glass window.

After the second plane struck and the first building collapsed, security ordered all inmates back to their living units. The cellblock TV was on. Inmates began to assemble about the TV listening, trying to understand what each kernel of news information meant.

The day wore on.

The gravity of the moment transcended the razor-wired double fences, reached inside our hearts, and made each of us for a moment different human beings.

What I witnessed was never before seen in a prison. Convicted criminals—some hardened, some not—wiping flowing tears from their eyes; guards and inmates huddled together on bended knees with arms encircling each other praying for families who would never know anything but grief from that moment on in life; and sworn enemies stop, speak conciliatory words to each other, and then embrace each other in a futile attempt rewind the clock to a moment when everything was certain.

The TV remained on throughout the day and night, cell doors were left open, and a dozen or more inmates remained transfixed in front of the TV for the next 18 hours or so.

The next morning the inmates were quiet as they moved in a solemn procession to the food cart in cellblock lobby to get their breakfast tray. They ate in silence, weary, beaten down by horrific images of planes exploding into buildings and buildings reduced to contaminated dust and debris.

“You motherfuckers,” one voice screamed out in anguish.

“It’s all right, my man,” another voice calmed the moment. “The Lord will have His vengeance.”

Silence once again engulfed the tier, each man struggling to swallow the next bite—almost ashamed that he could eat while so many suffered.

The next morning, as I struggled through my usual 1500 non-stop skips of the rope,  a well-developed weight lifter—a former State Trooper in fact—let loose a guttural scream as he lifted a 45-lb weight above his head and slammed it into a weight bench, buckling its iron frame.

The moment after had arrived for us all.

Yesterday as I sat in my living room watching news coverage of the various 9/11 commemorations those images of 20 years ago re-emerged in my brain. I remembered how inmates for a short period became one humanity locked in a shared tragedy. Yes, they returned to their normal world where hate, division, and anger reigned supreme. But for a moment they were human … they understood.

Why did it take such a tragedy to make us all embrace each other?



I came from the womb of a rape victim. My mother—I later learned—was a 20-year-old college student who was impregnated by a serial sex offender.

My mother wanted to abort me two months after my conception. Texas law effectively prevented her from doing that. The Right to Life folks got the most restrictive, publicly vigilante anti-abortion laws passed in the nation.

Moments after the name “Robert” was attached to my life I was turned over to the Texas foster care system—considered one of the worse, if not the worse, foster care systems in the nation.

It seems that Texas Legislators and the Christian-dominated Right to Life folks do not care much about the welfare of children once they receive the smack of life on their tiny ass. Child welfare, they believe, exists only in the womb.

There I was with a blistered red ass handed over to a “child protective” services person who started me on my horrific, atrocious journey through the state-sponsored foster care system.  I was anally sodomized at age four and orally sodomized at age six as I passed from one home to another. Hundreds of nights I went to bed—the cold floor many times—hungry and scarred with the bruises and broken bones of physical abuse. My Right to Life became a hellhole existence, forced on me by Christians and politically motivated lawmakers.

When I turned 15 I escaped foster care and joined a street gang where I found immediate acceptance because I was a hard-hitting, ass-kicking, willing to shoot little motherfucker—all valuable life surviving skills bestowed upon me by the Texas foster care system.

The Christians would say I fell in “with the wrong crowd.” I say I fell in “with the right crowd,’ most of whom shared my same life experiences with either a foot (or something worse) in the ass or a fist upside the head. It’s actually easy to become mean in life, a natural freedom to do whatever you please—except get an abortion.

Then, at age 20, in the middle of a barroom brawl, I pulled out a 9mm and killed two men who were attacking my gang buddies. That was a natural response to a life crisis that my childhood experiences had instilled in me.

The district attorney, a long time Right to Life supporter, charged me with capital murder. He told my twelve- person jury—comprised of eight Right to Life folks—that I should be put to death by lethal injection because I posed a “future dangerousness” threat both in prison and to any possible return to society.

My attorney—an agnostic civil libertarian, no less—argued rather persuasively I thought that the State of Texas could not take my life because before birth it had given me a perpetual “Right to Life” contract by not allowing my abortion; that the contract was non-revocable. He argued that I had a right to a life sentence and the State of Texas had no right to a lethal injection death sentence.

But those Right to Life people on that jury did not agree with my attorney. They agreed I had breached my right to life contract when I killed those two men.

So, here I sit in a Huntsville prison death cell just an hour from execution because the State of Texas forced life on me; inserted me in a child care system that guaranteed a trip to either a prison or a death cell; and will now kill me because it made me what I am.

Yes, I am the fault of my own situation and bear some responsibility for my impending execution. But remember Right to Life folks, you made me who I am and you are responsible for what I became.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: There are literally hundreds of real  Roberts on the nation’s death rows and hundreds of thousands more in its prison systems. Right to Life folks indeed love life in the womb, but they don’t give one plug nickel for life after it passes through the birth canal.