Mourn Through Action, Not Malaise

Yes, I do mourn for Jordan Davis.

I mourn for the fact that yesterday would have been his 19th birthday. I mourn that Jordan Davis will never again walk this plane of existence, or be anything more than another dead body in a steadily rising count of victims in the wasteland that Florida has become as a result of Stand Your Ground, joining names like Chad Oulson and Trayvon Martin.

I mourn for Lucia McBath and Ron Davis, who like Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin before them had to perform the incomprehensible and grievous task no parent should ever have to do: bury their child. I mourn for Jordan’s friends, who watched and took cover as their friend was murdered in cold blood for daring to talk back to a racist, egomaniacal, sociopathic thug with an itchy trigger finger.

Though imperfect, we can claim a victory in that Michael Dunn most likely will never be a free man. But I’ll be damned if I join in the throngs of those among us that dare to speak of the Black community being a defeated, helpless minority with no answers except to keep The Conversation going on a weekend talk show. I will not be a party to those within our community whose very brands depend on solution-less, solipsistic Black nihilism and the placation of white guilt. Not when there is an enemy in our midst whose reason for existence is nothing more than the confirmation and enforcement of the white Christian male power structure.

Let us keep in clear focus what our objective should be: The end of Stand Your Ground. Forged in the offices of the American Legal Exchange Council (ALEC) and signed into law in Florida by Jeb Bush in 2005, SYG has essentially become a way for people to take a life anytime and anywhere they feel threatened, by any measure of force they deem necessary. The law’s intentional vagueness not only allows for people to commit acts of barbarism without consequence, but has created a nightmare for people to determine how it applies. From the New York Times today:

…the state failed to persuade everyone on the jury — four white men, four white women, one Hispanic man, two black women and an Asian-American woman — of their version of events. As a result, the judge was forced to declare a mistrial Saturday on the charge of first-degree murder. A new trial on that count is expected to take place later this year.

“This trial is indicative of how much of a problem Stand Your Ground laws really do create,” said Mary Anne Franks, an associate law professor at the University of Miami. “By the time you have an incident like this and ask a jury to look at the facts, it’s difficult to re-create the situation and determine the reasonableness of a defendant’s fear.

For the Black community, the end of Stand Your Ground becomes even more a matter of our survival by the numbers, as was demonstrated by a report in Frontline in 2012:

At FRONTLINE’s request, Roman analyzed the pool of 43,500 homicides by race in states with Stand Your Ground laws* and those without them. Because he wanted to control for multiple variables — the races of the victim and the shooter, whether they were strangers, whether they involved a firearm and whether the murders were in Stand Your Ground states — Roman used a technique known as regression analysis, which is a statistical tool to analyze the relationship between different pieces of data.

Using this analysis, Roman found that a greater number of homicides were found justified in Stand Your Ground states in all racial combinations, a result he believes is because those states yielded more killings overall.

Roman also found that Stand Your Ground laws tend to track the existing racial disparities in homicide convictions across the U.S. — with one significant exception: Whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground states are far more likely to be found justified in their killings. In non-Stand Your Ground states, whites are 250 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than a white person who kills another white person; in Stand Your Ground states, that number jumps to 354 percent.

Now is not the time for railing, incoherent prose from the likes of Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose screed after arguably the most confusing verdict in recent history was handed down read like visceral despair. Nor is this the time for The Nation’s Mychal Denzel Smith’s fearful, hopeless self-hatred about how he has to live with the fear that comes from being born in a Black body. These men proved not too long ago that they are not interested in solving racism, only to just be curious about it.

What it is time for is action. All of us should be fighting vehemently against Stand Your Ground, pressuring every congressperson and senator on local, state and federal levels for its repeal rather than letting another one of our youth fall dead. It is beyond time for us to be preparing to hit the polls this November in the same numbers that elected and re-elected the current President of the United States.

We must be strong. This is a fight. And one we must win.

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One Comment

  1. Hi Isaiah…at first I wasn’t going to comment because I disagreed. However, I am a firm believer that rational engagement across ideologies is too lacking and for so many we have not been taught how to do this. S o here is my two cents. I don’t think Coates and Smith are so much displaying victimology. Rather I think it is a form of vulnerability. Now you obviously think that it serves little to no use. I can deal with that. Yet, I think that their forum is a form of activism just like I think your blog and tweets are. As someone who works in academia, as a low level administrator, who is working on a PhD to perhaps teach/gain tenure in addition to admin duties I hear a lot of the times about the lack of activism among scholars, especially in my field African American Studies. I argue that some of us use academia as our space of activism by teaching our students to dig deep, critically think, know the history, examine the organizing of our ancestors, wed that with 21st century technology and be about it. Keep writing my brother we need all voices at the table because you are correct in your assessment that we must fight. It’s the how that we often stumble on…:)

    Reply

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