Loud music doesn't kill teenagers. And yet major news organizations (including ABC, CNN and the New York Times) continue to refer to the alleged cold-blooded murder of Jordan Davis as the "Loud Music Trial." The New York Times referred to the charge of "premeditated murder of a teenager in a dispute over loud music." CNN referred to "this emotional, hot-button trial -- partly because of the fact Dunn is white and the teenagers who were shot at, including Davis, are black..."
But very few people are really telling the truth -- because we as a nation have failed to tell the truth. And this is the truth: We as a nation have yet to deal with racial prejudice. We keep pretending that it's a zit that pops up every so often on the face of America's adolescent consciousness (because really -- educated and liberal people aren't racist) rather than acknowledging that it is a cancer that has existed since the inception and conception of our nation. If we were honest with ourselves, very few of us can dispute the Rev. Reggie Williams' observation that "If Jordan Davis was a white youth killed by a Black man it would have been first degree murder! Period!" (It is worth noting that Rev. Williams posits this observation as an attorney with a trained perspective.)
So when do we decide -- as a nation -- that neither Skittles, nor hoodies, nor loud music are supposed to be a death sentence?
It was 50 years ago that Ella Baker passionately declared, "Until the killing of Black mothers' sons becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of white mothers' sons, we who believe in freedom cannot rest."
When children line up each day in our schools and resolutely declare allegiance to a flag of a nation that proffers "liberty and justice for all," we need to acknowledge to ourselves and to our children that we have lied. We may have lofty ideals. We may want to pretend that this is true, with very few exceptions. But we are lying to ourselves.
The Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock (who ministers at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sr. ministered) observes:
The inability of juries to actually convict the murderers of Jordan and Trayvon, unarmed children, of murder is indicative of a deep cultural problem and spiritual crisis. The young black male in America is viewed not as a person but as a problem. It is one thing to be stripped of one's life. It is quite another to be stripped of one's humanity. I am not a menace. I am a man. America needs to do some deep, serious and uncomfortable soul searching.
I am a mother to two beautiful white, blue-eyed teenagers. If as many white teenagers were gunned down with impunity as are Black teenagers, we would hear an uproar and outrage. Why are our voices silent now?
To use Ella Baker's words, "We who believe in freedom cannot rest." To use Archbishop Desmond Tutu's words in "God Has a Dream":
Until women are deeply involved in opposing the violence in the world, we are not going to bring it to an end. All women must be equally at the forefront of the movements for social justice. And they also have a special leverage over the men in their lives, who often perpetuate death while women are left creating life. But women can say, "We have had enough of this business. If you keep going out to fight and kill, we're not going to have anything to do with you." It is tremendous that women are increasingly taking on positions of leadership, but they must not simply settle for business as usual. They have the potential -- if they have the courage- - to transform the institutions they are inheriting and to make them more humane and more just. Unleashing the power of women has the potential to transform our world in extraordinary and many as yet unimagined ways...
Enough. This is not about loud music. This is not about Skittles or Hoodies. This is about a culture -- OUR culture -- that says it's OK to legitimize fear of teenagers because they are Black. It is wrong. It is evil. It has to stop. And it will only happen when we ALL say, "Enough."