Regardless of the trial’s outcome, Jordan Davis is still dead. Regardless of how much time Michael Dunn receives for having been found guilty on three attempted murder charges, Jordan Davis is still dead. Regardless of our inability to understand how one can be found guilty of attempted murder but jurors be unable to determine if he intended to murder, Jordan Davis is dead. Dead. Gone, shot, murdered, for listening to music too loud for another human’s liking.
Another black boy.
And it will continue to happen because our collective respect for human life continues to deteriorate. But more than that, the fear of black boys and men, the assumption that every black boy and man is dangerous, up to no good, a villain, has to stop. And yet, how? How do we do that? How do we make that perception go away? Historically, this is how it goes. This is how irrational, unjustifiable fear persists. Intrinsic to the continuation of death by being black is the unblack man’s indisputable belief of his superiority. That is ever present. Until we change that, nothing else will change.
I can teach my son how to not act like a threat when pulled over, when stopped in a store or walking down the street, when applying for a job. I cannot teach my son how not to be brown.
In regard to the Dunn case, do the circumstances even matter anymore? Can we forget about music or Skittles and focus on the basic issue of you are a black boy who deserves no better treatment than to be gunned down in the street? It’s pointless for us to discuss gun laws, it seems. Pointless, it seems, to discuss gun laws in relation to crimes against black boys. What about gun laws in relation to crimes against black boys WHO ARE UNARMED? Sure, I know guns alone aren’t the problem. But guns in the wrong hands, guns for the wrong reasons — when is the right reason? When is it logical for an ordinary person to simply ride around with a gun? What amount of potential trouble is suspected? Don’t give me the line about your right to carry a weapon. You have a right to carry it. You do not have the right to suspect that a black boy, regardless of his taste in music or preference in decibel, deserves the gun used against him. You do not have the right to follow someone just because you believe him suspicious. What makes him suspicious to begin with? It’s not where he is or what he’s doing or listening to. It is him. It is his color.
What happened doesn’t matter. Who said what to whom doesn’t matter. The outcome is what matters. The gun’s presence is what matters. Those seconds between an argument escalating and your reaching for a gun is what matters. It matters at a gas station, walking down the street, even in a movie theatre. Have we lost all semblance of presence of mind, the ability to assess and react appropirately? Are we so determined to be right? Are we so uncaring that we will take another person’s life because that person refuses to bend to our will? What happened to shaking our heads, flipping the bird and driving away? Are we too good for that now? We have to show our control?
I feel like we’re spinning our wheels, locked in place. We move forward and then stupidity and egos has us playing a dangerous game of Trouble. The wrong roll of the di can send you back so many spaces. We like to claim that this is just the way Florida works, that Florida is an anomaly. We like to think that Florida’s denizens’ thoughts and feelings are so far removed from the people who live next to us, who think that black people, black boys, are dispensable, troublemakers that deserve to die. We like to pretend that Florida is different, removed from the masses. But listen. Racial profiling exists outside of Florida. Ignorance and superiority exist outside of Florida. There is no question this pervasive mentality has to stop. At what point will it stop, though? WHO ELSE HAS TO DIE?
We can cry about the senselessness surrounding Jordan Davis’ death (for music!) and we can reflect on the hideousness of Trayvon Martin’s death (for walking, suspiciously). We can shout over the injustice of Darius Simmons’ death (his neighbor, John Henry Spooner, thought Darius had burglarized his home. Spooner shot him as Darius was putting out trash) but until we deal with the underlying perpetuation of black men deserving to be feared, we change nothing. Until we deal with the fact that guns are readily available, eagerly given (regardless of paperwork, it can still be easy) nothing will change. It makes me laugh, sardonically, mind you, to imagine a man whose record is clear of previous arrests or charges or incidents who gets a gun so easily and then has to contend with a pesky murder charge.
We can rally. We can march and protest and talk until we are blue in the face. But what remains is this: black boys are seen as robbers, murderers, pillagers, problems to be expunged. Until we change the mentality that rights are distinguishable by race, that black boys are subpar citizens who should automatically be feared, we change nothing.Until there is remorse for the murder of an unarmed teen, not anger over the loss of livelihood, the loss of one’s freedom for killing such a boy, nothing will change.
To see a parent’s face when a child is senselessly lost is gut wrenching. We have to carry that feeling around at all times, remember it when we’re in precarious situations, when sense isn’t our ruling emotion.
We have to do something else, try something else. Because what we’re doing isn’t working. Black boys, innocent black boys, are feared. And they’re losing their lives as a result.
We have to do something else.
I’ve heard it said that education is the key. But, education of whom? The black boys can be as educated as imaginable, but if they continue to be seen as black only, regardless of education, what sense does that make? If the person judging them, sizing them up, determining them worthy of being the next unfortunate headline death isn’t the one who needs to be educated, where does that leave us? Where does that leave the black MAN?
WE HAVE GOT TO DO SOMETHING ELSE.