Like a well-appointed suitor who is totally used to controlling the relationship he established for himself, American racism knows how to give a little hope now and then to keep us hanging on. So, the Florida man who argued with Black teenagers over the loud volume of the music coming out of the youths’ van, then shot into the van numerous times, killing Jordan Davis and wounding one other passenger, just got convicted of first-degree murder. Boo Yow!! Mr. Michael Dunn is to get a mandatory 25 years to life for his murderous act.
It took two trials to finally get there—the first one ended in a hung jury. The second go-round a jury of 10 Whites and two Blacks finally looked and listened to the evidence and did not believe the man’s excuse—he was in fear for his life since he thought he saw one of the youths pull out a gun. There was no gun found anywhere inside the van, nor anywhere in the gas station area in which the event took place, except for the gun the man used to shoot up the van. For once, the “Stand your Ground” defense in Florida did not work to protect a White citizen exacting racial homicide on a fellow Black citizen. So, a little proper justice was finally done, after Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, and numerous others.
Maybe it isn’t fully open season on Black males after all. Sure seemed like it, though. But maybe we’d better wait a little bit more before relaxing our vigilance.
Clearly, all cops aren’t drowning in racial animus, and all Whites are not out hunting for Black scalps, even in Florida. But gosh, one can be forgiven for feeling like there’s been some sort of cultural code issued to Whites, to wit, “If you’re feeling overrun, if you just don’t like Blacks, just shoot you one or a few and go on back home. Nothing will come of it. We got your back.”
There’s been no grand jury indictment in the Michael Brown case, though the victim was clearly unarmed and had his hands raised up in surrender, and two White witnesses have now come forth to report that’s what they saw. The police officer during the altercation, Darren Wilson, repeatedly fired his gun at Michael Brown regardless.
In New York, 43-year-old Eric Garner was chokeholded to death by a group of police over cigarettes. The New York medical examiner’s office declared the death a homicide, but the grand jury has not yet reported an indictment against any of the officers, nor has any other authority.
In Los Angeles, an unarmed Black man, Ezell Ford, was shot several times and killed by police officers in a recent case, and there have not been any firings, suspensions or indictments in consequence.
In Ohio, a 22-year old Black man, John Crawford, was shot and killed while shopping in Wal-Mart by a team of police. Crawford held a toy gun sold in the store, but had threatened no one with it. As usual, the special grand jury assigned to investigate the case refused to indict any police officers involved in the shooting.
Of course, there is a serious problem here. Maybe it’s bad police training. Maybe it’s bad cultural optics repeated far too often in modern America, where Black men in video games, films and TVshows are constantly portrayed as thugs, criminals, and gang-related.
Maybe, a frightening thought, this is what post-racial really looks like.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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