The state that let Casey Anthony roam free and put guns back in George Zimmerman’s hands has now become infamous for some of the most outrageous cases with even more outrageous verdicts. Some view Florida as some sort of Twilight Zone in which open and shut/common sense situations are rarely handled as such. But the truth is Florida is a blatant representation of the violent tug-of-war centered on the citizenship rights and humanity of African descended peoples (Black people). The clarion call from “Birth Of A Nation” sounded in 1915 and its echoes still bellow across America. The belief that “Blacks” should be feared and the pathos allowing for someone to legally execute even the smallest among us is the driving force behind stand your ground laws and much of the “justifiable” deadly force logic in thinly laced “self defense” accounts.
Even as we learned that Michael Dunn gunned down an unarmed teenager and afterwards ordered pizza and jurors were still confused about whether or not this was 1st degree murder.
Where is the confusion? The confusion lies in the inability of some to divide their own internalized/learned fears from the reality that a child has died. Often in these cases people think, “What would I have done? What if it were me?” In the sad case of Trayvon Martin the jurors more than likely aligned their own fears of Black teenagers along with George Zimmerman’s; giving him the benefit of the doubt and allowing Trayvon, to be labeled an aggressor even though Trayvon was the one being followed. The same can be said for some of the jurors in the Michael Dunn trial. Though he blasted bullets and punctured the flesh of an unarmed human being, his “fears” of mythical gangsters upheld by “thug” music, some how legitimized Dunn’s spray of bullets enough for their to be a mistrial.
Some are stating that these verdicts highlight a license to kill but this is wrong. It’s more than about one or two people. This is a license to exterminate. Trayvon and Jordan represent a population in America that has been abhorred, hated and subjugated for centuries. Even still we’ve managed to live, even thrive in some cases. This has infuriated those that wish to see Black and Brown people members of a permanent underclass.
When it comes to justice for us, verdicts in trials like these signal that the mainstream population views us as “not quite” human beings. Those that kill a Black person are given lighter sentences and fewer years in prison. This upholds the ever present three fifths of a human being compromise of 1787 (almost, but not quite human so the penalty is less). Though initially the compromise was about state representation, the premise is the still the same.
In all honesty, Florida is not far off from the rest of the US. It’s a peculiar state, which is bursting with multicultural communities that are surrounded by gatekeepers of the olden days, the good ole’ boys and gals. It’s a state with one foot in and one foot out of Jim Crow. This is why voter suppression tactics are suddenly vital for Florida. If law makers could construct new versions of the Grandfather’s clause they would…and they’re trying to.
Like other people, I’m done with Florida in its current condition. Cases like this remind us of the thousands of other dead children with forgotten names and unmarked graves. Strange fruit. Yet, the Blacks are still here. The Native Americans are still here. The Latinos are still here. The freedom seeking, anti-oppression people of all colors are still here.
We’re not going to be silenced or forced out. The fear and aggression are enough to cause fatigue but these are examples of a declining era fighting desperately to hang on, yet is bound to fail. These battles are hard fought but history has shown us that it’s possible. A new Florida, a new America is possible.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”- MLK Jr.
Jessica Ann Mitchell is the founder of OurLegaci.com & BlackBloggersConnect.com. To reach JAM, email her at OurLegaci@gmail.com.
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