So if you haven’t been on social media or been watching CNN, you might not know who Michael Dunn is and what had gotten the African American community (and every empathetic person with a heartbeat) up in arms.
Slain Teen Jordan Davis
We all thought that after the horrible miscarriage of justice in the Zimmerman trial, that the lives of our children were valuable enough in the court of law to punish a murderer. We were wrong.
As of this evening (around 7 pm EST), the jurors were deadlocked over the count on murder in the trial of a Jacksonville, FL execution of an African-American teen inside a car because the “thug music” the teens in the car were playing was too loud. They could not agree on the first count for murder against the shooter, Michael Dunn. Instead, he was convicted of four other counts that would imprison him indefinitely.
Ok, you’re probably saying “he’s already going to prison for some part of this crime” and you’d be right. What I have a problem with is that another child is murdered for no good reason and the shooter is not being directly punished for it. I hate to say this but if the races were reversed (and the shooter was black and the victim was a Caucasian teenager), there would be a swift conviction with no questions asked.
The larger ramifications of this verdict will continue to haunt me and many. What does this teach people who are genuinely uncomfortable around teenagers of color?! That they have the right to execute these kids who look at them the wrong way? That’s what Mr. Zimmerman believed when he evoked the “Stand Your Ground” law to assassinate Trayvon Martin. What does this verdict teach our children of color? That their lives are less valuable than their white counterparts?!
I remember the uproar that the killing of Trayvon Martin caused amongst his friends and classmates in the Miami Gardens community in South Florida. They led the protest to leave school in outrage and when they were seen protesting, that was when the local and national press took notice. As a teacher at the time, I remember asking whether we as faculty would be discussing what happened amongst our pupils but never got an answer which made me really uneasy.
I saw Trayvon as one of my students, a good-hearted kid with mild behavioral issues that could be ironed out over time. I saw Trayvon as my younger brother Brandon who nothing but respectful of authority and elders. And now I feel the same way about Jordan.
So in the tradition of social activism that my parents’ generation reflect on during the Civil Rights Movement, I have decided to use this blog and its social media platforms to inspire community mobility and support organizations in the trenches like The Dream Defenders and Trayvon Martin Foundation. I will use my connections and contacts to open up the conversation about gun laws and the welfare of our children of color to the legislators and policymakers.
What are YOU planning to do?
Laurean D. Robinson, MA