Just a few months ago I remember writing an optimistic post about how the outrage surrounding the George Zimmerman trial gave me hope that this country was changing. I wrote about how Trayvon Martin’s death, and the controversy surrounding it, proved that the American people were frustrated with racial violence and would not stand for it again. A few years ago Trayvon’s case wouldn’t have made news, it would have been business as usual here, but the fact there was such an outpour of support showed me that though the U.S. isn’t quite there yet, it could be.
Then Michael Dunn came along—a drunk as fuck, middle-aged man with a pistol shoots a car full of teenagers because they were playing loud music in a convenience store parking lot. No, they weren’t playing loud music as neighbors or in front of his home, no, the teens weren’t armed, but Michael Dunn “felt threatened” so he shot the car up ten times, killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis. Then he went back to his hotel room and ordered a pizza. Why would a man do something like that: well, because, in America, he knew he could get away with it.
Dunn’s case went to trial and 10 out of 12 jurors thought he was guilty of murder (in the first degree or second degree) but 2 believed he acted in self-defense. The hung jury meant that the judge had to declare a mistrial, Dunn will have to be tried again before we’ll know what happens to him.
Can you believe it, that we are here, this country is here, that we are sitting here again?
A white man felt justified in killing a car full of teenagers because they were listening to loud music. Loud music means you deserve to die. Loud music means you can be judged by any white man and be killed.
When I am on the subway with my cheap ass ear buds blasting Beyoncé or Kanye and the person next to me can hear the music does that give them permission to murder me? When I am listening to “Versace” by Migos in my bedroom loudly, can someone come into my home and murder me? These scenarios aren’t any different, these teenagers were in their car, they were in their car. People listen to music in their cars. That is what people do.
No on explains it better than Jesse Williams from Greys Anatomy, of all people. He really breaks down how Black people, specifically Black males, are immediately perceived as threats before they are presumed innocent.
I know a ton of Black males who put on a smile and wave happily whenever they see a White person so that the White person “feels OK,” because that is necessary in this country. I’ve seen police officers stop Black men on the street during a blizzard and aggressively ask, “Why are your hands in your pockets?!” Because it is fucking cold, sir. A White person asks a condescending and degrading question. A Black person responds with attitude. The Black person is perceived as a monster, the White person as a victim. Classic America. Stop and Frisk was ruled unconstitutional here because police officers were only stoping Blacks and hispanics. Can we just stop it already?
America has conflated the idea of feeling threatened with actually being threatened, here is the difference, the way you feel isn’t always dictated by rationality. If you are a racist then you will always feel threatened by the race you hate. They call it “homophobia” for a reason, if you are uncomfortable with gay people, you will always feel threatened or uncomfortable around them. That is YOUR issue. Fucking go to therapy. Or you know what, walk the other way. I’ve gotten onto trains with a group of friends and have seen an older white woman clutch her handbag. Fuck that woman’s brainwashing, but fine—she didn’t make a scene. She didn’t antagonize my friends and I. She didn’t alert the authorities. She just allowed herself to feel uncomfortable and then you know what? Nothing happened because her fears were irrational, agist, racist and unfounded.
I used to be scared of the dark when I was a kid. That is an irrational fear. No matter how intense I felt that fear, it was completely unfounded. So no, the Mayor of New York didn’t declare the entire city had to keep its lights on to accommodate me.
I am sick of people using the fear of Black people as a defense for murdering us. You decided to be afraid of me because of how I look and now I have to die. You decided to believe that a certain kind of music means I am a certain kind of person that deserves to die. And then this country, the judicial system says that is OK.