On Trial

On trial … let’s think about this …

Quartz published an article yesterday, by Olivia Goldhill, titled Women are always on trial. The Kavanaugh hearing is one devastating example. This piece is something to read and grapple with. In a way, society today puts so many of us on constant trial…

The word, trial, strikes many different thoughts, actions, and emotions specific to one’s current environment and context, as well as one’s past experience.

Trial can signify a wide range of things. Take athletes for example. Trial to an elite athlete means an evaluation of skill and aptitude for success, usually done at the start of a season, and continually during practices and game situations. It’s an assessment of effort, persistence towards goals, and athletic excellence.

For students, the word trial is usually accompanied by the word error, forming the phrase, “trial and error,” a cornerstone of learning and intellectual growth. It signals potential, determination to seek solutions, and commitment to personal betterment.

Yet in situations of argument, opposition, or wrongdoing, the word trial holds a whole different weight and meaning. For those accused of a crime under the law, the word trial signifies a court hearing, testimonies, arguments, and ultimately, a final ruling: guilty or innocent.

The word trial carries many different uses, meanings, and consequences.

In America, the sixth amendment guarantees the right to public trial to any person accused of wrongdoing under the law. America stands by the presumption of innocence; every person has a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

While steadfast in law, the question becomes, do we as people, as a greater society, abide by this presumption of innocence principle in our daily actions, attitudes, thoughts, and routines towards others?

Do we treat others as innocent first and foremost-- or do we seek evidence of innocence to form such beliefs and attitudes?

Are people treated as innocent until proven guilty?

United States senator, Kamala Harris, addressed Christine Blasey Ford during the Kavanaugh-Ford sex assault allegation hearings, reassuring Ford, “you are not on trial.”

While these words may be true by law, it’s a statement that’s hard to believe and hard to trust in considering how Ford’s traumatic experiences have been scrutinized by an entire nation.

Truth is, for many, innocence is not inherently granted in today’s society.

Women, LGBTQ+, Blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, and many more, face scrutiny and oppression almost daily. Our news covers stories of oppression, mistreatment, assault, and challenge on a regular, if not daily basis. While the target population may change, the messages similarly paint doubt - doubt in ability, worthiness, intelligence, equality, and—innocence.

Reality is, today’s era is defined by glass ceilings, police brutality, #MeToo, PRIDE, social movements, family separations and deportations, ‘Make America Great Again’ slogans… the list goes on.

Today is defined by overwhelming challenge, glimpses of hope, but mostly, desperate pleas for change. 

Strive to be a change maker. Find your role.


See innocence, not guilt.

Capability, not deficiency.

Similarity, not difference.

Community, not segregation.