The state of Florida finds itself in the spotlight once again for a situation that is becoming entirely too common all over the country. Another life was lost due to the nauseating symptoms of anger, pride, fear and ignorance. A proud father who had just come from his sons wedding, crossed paths with a normal kid from a good family. In what appears to be a growing occurrence, the young man wound up dead. Murder in the first degree for Dunn may have been a difficult charge for the jury to decide on, but the question remains, should it have been? On a disastrous day in November of 2012, Michael Dunn stopped at a convenience store with his fiance. He ended up parked next to 17 year-old Jordan Davis and three of his friends. An altercation over loud rap music coming from the youngsters vehicle ensued, which then escalated and ultimately resulted in the shooting death of Davis at the hands of Dunn. The young man was black, his shooter, white.
Yes, Dunn did indeed murder Davis. Because Davis is dead; killed by bullets fired from Dunn’s hand gun. There was no evidence of a gun in the vehicle Jordan was in. He never even made it out of the car. This is fact, yet a 12 person jury, consisting of eight whites, two blacks, one Hispanic and one Asian, were unable to find Dunn guilty of first degree murder. Sure they were able to get convictions on three counts of attempted murder and one count of firing into an occupied car, but why was there not a conviction on the most serious charge of them all, the one that should take precedence over all the others being that a life was taken?
Amazingly that charge was was struck down even though someone was murdered. Yet, somehow that glaring fact was totally avoided, and at least for the time being, taken entirely off the table. Again, it was found to be a difficult charge for the jury, but why should it have been in face of the facts presented? Dunn can potentially face up to 60 years or more in prison for those four charges alone, but he may do no time at all for the actual murder of Davis. Something seems very wrong there. Could the skewed representation of “Black America” in the media have played a role in enhancing Dunn’s apparent paranoia toward minorities? It more than likely did in this case. The first murder degree for Dunn, is a difficult charge for the jury, but should it be?
It appears that the irony in the location of the incident being a convenience store, had also been lost on Dunn that day. The whole point of calling it a convenience store is so that one does not have to spend much time there. One can drive up, jump out, grab something, stand in a line that is usually not longer than say, three or four people deep, make a purchase and go. Seems simple does it not? It could have been. Surely Dunn wishes several times a day that he had made a different choice and done the simple thing.
It is easy to imagine him fervently wishing that he did, and desperately regretting that he did not. If only he had minded his own business and just allowed himself to be temporarily annoyed by some loud obnoxious music for a few minutes, or better yet, parked in another spot altogether, further from the auditory annoyance. Had he done so, he most probably could have gone on with the life he created with his fiance and Jordan could have gone home to his family, gotten a hug from his mother and lived to see another day. It is continually astounding how in the span of a mere few minutes, bad decisions can dramatically and forever alter the course of several people’s lives in one fell swoop.
Admittedly, rap is not the most savory genre of music at its worst, and at high volumes it can be extremely annoying to just about any body. Be that as it may, there is no denying that it is very popular all over the world. It has taken parts of the middle east (rapper MIA) the UK (Tinie Tempah, N-Dubz) and other countries by storm and most likely wont be disappearing anytime soon. And in what may be a surprising fact to some, not just black people listen to it, like it or perform it. Eminem anyone? How about the Grammy winning Macklemore? Remember Vanilla Ice?
Suffice it to say there are hordes of white teens and young adults who have embraced it and have been known to blast it from car stereos as well. That is also a fact. Knowing this, one might naturally be led to wonder if that fateful scenario would have played out in quite the same way had the teenagers been of Caucasian descent? Would Dunn so readily have feared for his life? Would he have thought that he saw the shadowy outline of a gun? More importantly, would a white teenager have died that day for being verbally defiant? The answer to that question will never be known, but it serves the important purpose of forcing one to look honestly at ones self when it comes to racial differences, negative mindsets and misplaced beliefs, be they seemingly valid and logically sensible stances or not.
Needless to say, a vast number of Americans, black, white or other, are just flat out weary of the racial strife in America. So, what happened to the great melting pot this country was supposed to become? How has this nation gotten so far off track? What appears to be lacking more than any other thing is basic common sense. It seems as though the use of sound judgment is becoming a non-viable capability in this day and age. That is truly unfortunate and a testament to the sobering realization that our technology has most assuredly outstripped our humanity. When the non-essentials are peeled away, it becomes apparent that the basic desires of most people are the same. To live a full, happy life, to realize dreams and see their families prosper and thrive are what the majority of people want.
Surely no one wishes to see their child cut down in the prime of life, and in the same vein, no one wants to see a family member forever lose their freedom as well as any chance at happily growing old, surrounded by loved ones and friends. Now sadly Michael Dunn will not get a chance to take any future grandchildren on a play date to the park, and Jordan Davis won’t be able to go on any dates at all or ever have any grandchildren of his own. Those things are horrifyingly unfortunate for everyone concerned. Yet, they could have been avoided, much like the circumstances that surrounded the murder of young Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman may have ducked prison in that instance, but it is highly doubtful that he is now leading an enviable life by any measure.
Murder in the first degree for Dunn may have been a difficult charge for the jury to make, but should it really have been that hard? Until and unless America takes a deep, close, honest look at it’s laws and enforcement practices, then takes the proper steps to correct and improve them, there will never be tangible, positive change. Ignorance hurts everyone and racism is rapidly rotting this country from the inside out whether willingly acknowledged or not. It is high time that the human animal stops fearing the unknown in it’s various cultures, races and social groups and begins instead to celebrate that which makes them all beautifully different and surprisingly the same.
Editorial by Mai Nowlin
Writer note: Jordan Davis would have turned 19 years old today. He is wished a Happy Birthday from this author, who has a 19 year-old of her own.