December 03, 2012

Black youth killed like Trayvon

You may have heard of the latest Trayvon Martin-style case. A man approached a car with blacks playing loud music and ended up shooting one of them, Jordan Davis. Then the shooter, Michael Dunn, claimed it was self-defense under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

Hey America! Can you please stop killing our (usually) innocent Black male children now?

By ShanikkaTruth be told, when Trayvon Martin died, we knew it would happen again. We rallied. We marched. We protested. We signed petitions. We put our hoodies up. But in the back of our minds we knew that it would happen again. There is no comparison between the deaths of any seventeen year old, as every life is sacred and the families deserve to have their own periods of mourning. So don’t confuse this with thinking that I am comparing the two, but something is happening in this country that has to come to an end. We don’t want the fear that some have of young black men to be a disease our country cannot cure.

I'm not so sanguine as Jordan Davis' parents. I know that a person doesn't have to consciously think or shout Klansman epithets to hate, fear and distrust Black people, deep down. Indeed, when it comes to young Black men, most people don't have any conscious thought of hating or fearing them. Yet they do. And I know why, as does anyone morally honest.

The black male. A demographic. A sociological construct. A media caricature. A crime statistic. Aside from rage or lust, he is seldom seen as an emotionally embodied person.

It is inarguable to anyone honest that racism is America's original sin, and hatred and fear of Black people part of our national heritage, even though we are long past the point where most Americans are consciously aware of these sentiments within themselves most of the time. (And most Americans, white and Black, do have these feelings deep within; see any book written by any Black psychologist including Franz Fanon or Kenneth and Mamie Clark, or even a non-psychology text like Carter G. Woodson's Miseducation of the Negro for further details.) It is that part of our culture that allows whites like Michael Dunn (and those people of color also infected by the culture's teaching us all about the defects and worthlessness inherent in Black people) to feel entitled to approach a group of young Black men they don't know in a public place and demand that they accommodate their wishes as it relates to their car stereo volume. It is that part of the culture that then allows men like Michael Dunn to believe he should pull out a gun and start shooting. (After they get into the fully-expected argument and the boys likely exercised their God-given right as free Americans to tell Mr. "I'm Willing to Bet Money that Mofo was Drunk as a Skunk and That's Why He Didn't Stay and Call 911" Dunn to fuck off and die.) With just a few extra shots as the children tried to flee in their car, just in case the message about who really had the power in the interaction wasn't clear in their minds.

If folks want to talk about reckless disregard for human life you can't get more on point than a white man's offense with too-loud music (and what my gut says was not just "backtalk" something that every parent of every teenager knows that teens do–but Lord Have Mercy Black backtalk, which is not necessarily polite to rude white people, but so what?) leading to eight shots being fired into a vehicle with four children in it, none of whom had any weapon of any kind in their possession.
Comment:  Needless to say, this analysis also applies to the racist beliefs and actions against Indians and other minorities.

In particular, the "Indian savage" is a social construct similar to the "black criminal." Both groups suffer racism for similar reasons. Among the reasons is they remind us of America's original sins--slavery and genocide--which most people would like to forget.

For more on Trayvon Martin, see Racial Profiling for Blacks and Indians and Blaming Trayvon for Getting Killed.

Below:  "Hoodie + loud music = death."


Anonymous said...

I remember a study a while back saying people will more often than not remember a white assailant as black. Color-coded for your convenience, I guess. But seriously, can we stop the ham-hawing about how "stand your ground" is supposedly a Good Idea(tm)? Because, um, presumption of innocence?

Basically it's like the South Park episode where Jimbo hunts endangered animals and tells Stan and his friends "Before you shoot one, you have to say 'He's comin' right at us!'"

Tom said...

It is so sad. Such a sad story. I still don't understand the "loud music" angle of the story either. But just another stereo-type I guess.