Feeling threatened is something entirely different from being threatened.
This, THIS, is exactly why we are not hearing each other. This is why some see race as an obvious factor while others contort their conscience into a blind utopian veil, or even a declaration that the dead teenager was the racist aggressor. There is a lot in between. And all things considered, plenty of it is reasonable.
We all consume media. Some of us way too much, some of us the bare minimum. Print advertising, television, film, radio, narrative curriculum, music, news, your childhood living room, comedians, even Fox News. There is a disproportionately aggressive representation of Black males in media. We’re not going to argue about the roles, responsibility or methodology involved. Not right now. The fact is, this representation certainly effects your assumptions about Black males in real life encounters. Especially if you are not engaging with a healthy variety of us fairly regularly. Generally speaking, this trend makes you more likely to “feel threatened” by the presence and behavior of a black male than his white counterpart.
However, what’s often under-explored in these conversations held over the still warm black body is the simple fact that feeling threatened is something entirely different from actually being threatened. If the races were reversed in these scenarios, and you would not come to the same deadly conclusion, then we are holding each other to a different standard. Right? If that’s the case, the “threat” didn’t really come from me, as much as it came from, you, your own prejudices. By definition, some of these prejudices are even reasonable . But that doesn’t give you the right to kill me. We are not a nuisance in your world. As this is not your world. We are all human beings and we all suffer inconveniences. We are not taking anything from you. All that you have is not yours. Privilege emboldens us to waltz around oblivious the people we may be hurting. Men do it all the time to women. We sexually harass women but call them “bitches” if they have the audacity to be offended or otherwise noncompliant. When you’re used to getting what you want, anything less can feel like oppression. This is not oppression. This is you being a brat. So please get up off the floor and think of something other than yourself for a damn minute.
What if you got the phone call? That a 47 year old man grabbed a gun and slaughtered YOUR teenage son/brother? Sorry but he’s dead. A guy fired 10 rounds into a car full of kids, then drove away and ordered a pizza.……………….Actually think about that happening in your life. Not someone else’s life. Not someone “different” from you. This happened to a real boy, a real mother and father. You wouldn’t give a damn why he claimed did it. There is no possible why that would justify the slaughter of your unarmed child.
Michael Dunn is why we have prisons. He is a threat to society. If we are included in “society.” If we are more than three fifths of a man.
Thank [whatever you believe in] that only one of these four boys died in this shooting spree. He shoud also be on trial for the attempted murder of three boys. Too often we see the American male “shoot first ask questions later,” cowboy mentality, lay waste to reason and decency.
Of course this is not only about individuals and their families. There’s also us, and our reactions. Our sympathy, or lack there of. Our inclination to relate to one person or the other: the aggressor or… the aggressor, depending how you choose to see it, after thinking about it, with your brain. The implicit bias we all carry with us. The lens through which we view teenage male behavior, and are able to see our selves honestly. How we process this recurrent loss of life. For example, we are not likely to care too much when a rat is killed in a trap, because the rat had no real potential and is generally regarded as a menace. At best he’s a pest, an obstacle to my more peaceful existence. But when a blonde girl goes missing it is a national emergency: for she, is the magic intersection of innocence, beauty and potential.
These are obviously extreme examples but i bring them up to establish our borders; our bottom and our top. If you’re not exposed to a wide variety of Black male lifestyles, achievements and interests, then your expectations of Black males that you see, will obviously reflect that. At the same time, it’s nearly the year 2013: the information age, and a little curiosity goes a long way. When given a semblance of opportunity, education and freedom, even for just a few generations, black people have accomplished, currently accomplish, and will continue to accomplish incredible things. Look into it sometime. So for the sake of argument, let’s say that black people are human beings of equal value to white people.
Black males remain the most opaque and feared demographic in this ever changing nation. Not just today, or since the sixties, or the twenties; Since we got here, which in many cases was long before Europeans. Blackness itself is treated as an act of aggression.
"This guy started yelling at me."
"This black guy started yelling at me."
We are not a monolith. We, just like any other demographic or socially constructed group, disagree with each other about a whole range of issues. We also change our minds, and evolve, and just like everyone else, we have plenty of room to grow. You, shutting me out, not hiring me, dismissing me, mocking my experience or failings, calling the police on me, or a nigger when you’re upset, shooting and killing me, because of your scared, when I’m 17 years young, is absolutely unacceptable. You’re scared? Really? We’ve been terrified for centuries. White males have been killing Black people in this country without consequence every single year for hundreds of years. That is not hyperbole.
Nor is the fact that when white men use violence on brown people, society reflexively looks for explanation first. When brown folks do anything but conform, society reflexively looks to condemn.
Anyway, Jordan Davis is dead. Bo Morrison is dead. Daniel Adkins, Jr. is dead. Trayvon Martin is dead. Jamonta Miles is dead.
Let’s top teaching that greatness is achieved through eloquently justified violence.
This is NOT a Black problem. It is our problem. It’s a White problem and a male problem and a structural societal ill. They are kids. We are adults. Let’s demonstrate the difference.
When you were a kid you did a lot of stupid shit. I most certainly did. Sometimes, I even played loud music in my friend’s car. Actually, all the time. It was really the only way to play music. And not just when we pulled into gas stations (Jordan Davis, 17, shot dead). Sometimes I would even go to parties and when those parties got busted, us kids would sometimes run. Maybe we’d hide in bushes, or on a neighbor’s porch (Bo Morrison, shot dead). And you’ll never believe this one: I was also known to occasionally use the hood on my sweatshirt, especially if it was chilly out or drizzling or god forbid both. Sometimes i’d even walk around my neighborhood (Trayvon Martin, shot dead). And if you harassed me, or maybe just looked at me, guess what I might act like, a teenager. Because that’s what I was; a teenager. But now I’m dead. Don’t worry though because you’re alive. That must be difficult for you.
If a trend was raging in this country that saw case after case of black adult men shooting and killing white teenagers, because they were “scared”, and visualized phantom weapons that never materialized, we’d see a sizable boost in yet another American trend: lynching.
Never mind the for-profit prison industrial complex, the systematic distortion of world history, the “war on drugs”, war on the impoverished, and the many complex and simple factors that leave us with so much to learn and repair. Please excuse any mistakes I may have made today. This was just an unfiltered spontaneous reaction, because I felt threatened.
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Stand Your Ground violence