… there are a lot of people with felony convictions who served their time who also deserve just as many chances as a violent teenage Mark Wahlberg received. Wrote a post about it for The Root. There are 5.85 million Americans with felony convictions, but most don’t get the Mark Wahlberg treatment, but instead of punching the repugnant Wahlberg down, why can’t we lift the reformed up? These former inmates need to rejoin society and start their lives over.
Should it be expunged? Sure. Why not? Wahlberg is a perfect example of how anyone, no matter how horrible and seemingly racist, can be reformed. Wahlberg—as far as I know—hasn’t publicly beat the crap out of anyone while screaming racist slurs in years. (Wahlberg’s last-known violent indiscretion was in 1992 when he beat up his neighbor.)
He never apologized for what he did to black music or how he initially made his fame off gross cultural misappropriation (while, you know, also seemingly not liking black people), but he did apologize for being a teenage drug-addict criminal. He’s never paid any reparations to his victims since becoming wealthy, but hey, he feels sort of bad. And he did his short time—45 days on what was supposed to be a two-year stretch—in prison through our highly flawed, but the only one we have, justice system.
Could a similarly violent young man of color have received the same breaks if he went around high as a kite, terrorizing white people? Hell no. Wahlberg only spent 45 days in prison for half-blinding a man. Black men’s sentences for crimes similar to white men usually are 20 percent longer, and black men and boys who get caught up in the system quickly get the “thug” label and are dehumanized. It’s the rare few that get to do what Wahlberg did—do the crime, do the time, then grow up. It’s the textbook example of white privilege. It’s a highly unfair system, but keeping Wahlberg from making more millions via a criminal record won’t make our justice system any fairer.