I always try to play devil’s advocate in situations like this. While waiting for the verdict in this Michael Dunn case, and learning that the jurors had questions on the count of first degree murder – which would probably and indeed did result in a mistrial on that charge – I had this opinion to offer:
Maybe it’s the “premeditated” part of 1st degree murder the jury is having issues with. 10 shots is damn sure willful.
— Tqwana Brown (@TheQisSilent416) February 15, 2014
But that wasn’t the case. The issue is that somehow this unarmed boy, sitting in a car at a gas station with his friends, listening to what the defendant described as “thug” music, posed a serious enough threat that might have warranted his being shot at multiple times and killed.
Verbal threats? Whatever happened to “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
The alleged gun Dunn saw? Doesn’t exist.
So what was it about 17-year-old Jordan Davis that cost him his life? To even need to ask that question puts the victim on trial, to say that he was at fault in his own death. That he deserved to die. We’ve seen this before, and also in the state of Florida. My home state. The music was endangering Dunn’s life perhaps. God forbid Jordan was wearing a hoodie. Or was it just because he was young, male and black, which certain parts of society automatically deem a threat? Why is it so easy to believe that where there are young black men, there must be guns? They must be up to no good? That they are “thugs?” Thug is the new N-word, y’all.
It’s so easy to point the finger at institutional racism in this country. To lay blame at only non-blacks and how they view us (Dunn’s views on race are clear enough in letters he wrote from jail). To say the system doesn’t work for the poor and minorities. Stand Your Ground didn’t work too well in Marissa Alexander’s favor.
There is much truth in all this. To deny the issues is to contribute to the problem. Post-racism America does not exist.
But, I don’t want to point fingers and lay blame. Rather than descend into more bitterness and hate over the outcomes of these trials, I want to open up the discussion that this country hides from. It’s time. It’s long past time. I want – no – need to know why. Why does someone who’s never met me, hate me because I have more melanin in my skin? Why do people assume that I must be a single mother living off government assistance? Why is it that I’m “ghetto” or a bitch because I’m not meek and mild? Why does my life and the lives of my people not hold value to others?
At the same time, I need to know why the Claire Huxtables have been replaced by the athlete side chicks? Why Lil’ Wayne and others like him are what our young men aspire to be and too many of our young ladies chase after? Why is our blackness now being defined by how confrontational and “hard” we can be? Why do we look down upon those of us that speak eloquently, read books, excel in school, open our hearts and minds to people of other cultures and travel the world? Why some of us live by the snitches get stitches philosophy? Why do we march for Trayvon, but not for what’s happening in places like Chicago? Why do we idolize the Kendrick Lamars, but not the Neil deGrasse Tysons?
I offer no solutions. I have none. I just want to talk openly about it all, finally. Share your views with me, interweb.