Welcome to Florida, Where It Is Always 1950
I think I broke the Derailing for Dummies website. I mean, you post a link ten or twelve times on Facebook, Twitter, HuffPo and The Daily KOS and suddenly it has exceeded its bandwidth. Who knew? Sorry!
So all of the shows I watch and all of the groups I am a part of on social media have taken to talking about Jordan Davis. I’m not taking credit for this, OK maybe a touch. There were, I’m sure, tons of people who did exactly what I did, posted all the information we had to any news outlet that might listen and begged for some help. Props to those news outlets that stepped up.
Many people, a really surprising large number of people have responded to this tragedy and my writing on it with some version of “Well, you weren’t there and can’t know what happened. You can’t judge.”
Fuck you. Yes I can. It’s not like this is a one off, isolated incident. Florida is gunning for People of Color, literally.
The other response is “Well, I think you’re overreacting. You can’t blame the whole state.”
Of course not. But I can look to the systematic targeting and scapegoating of PoC but the Republican legislature and the recently Republican governor of the state and call shenanigans at the very least.
Don’t believe me? Come along on the journey of Republican hate. It starts in childhood.
As I mentioned previously, Florida has decided to lower the standards required of black and Latino students instead of, you know, educating them to the previous standard. If you have different standards then you can’t call them standards anymore. What you can call them is separate but equal and as we all know, separate but equal is never equal. It is only ever separate.
Why is that relevant? Florida is setting up children of color to fail and when they fail scholastically and express their logical frustration behaviorally they are punished far more often and far more severely than their Caucasian counterparts.
And then they’re sent to prison. A felony conviction in Florida effective destroys the possibility of enfranchisement which permanently traps them in second class status. (Everyone should buy the book in the link just previous to this sentence. It is the single best resource on this subject.) The state has also been attempting to privatize the Florida prison system for several years which would remove even the most ephemeral connection to judicial motivations and replace them with profit motivations. Motivation via profit leads to corruption. It has already done so in Florida but they want to try it again.
The push from education to incarceration fuels the stereotype of PoC as more criminal overall which is totally not true in any way but is widely believed.
That belief along with just the general false stereotypes of black people in general, leads people to see PoC as inherently threatening. Further, the presumption of innocence is pretty much eradicated if the accused or the victim is a felon. So there’s that.
The Stand Your Ground statute in Florida puts the burden of proof on the victim, not the shooter. If also removes the retreat requirement. SYG defenses are effective roughly 70% of the time and are significantly more effect if the person standing their ground is Caucasian and the person who has been shot is otherwise. The Tampa Bay Times has done some outstanding reporting on this, by the way.
While all of this is going on and apparently not feeling that disenfranchising the felons they create is enough, Florida recently did their very best to prevent PoC who have managed to avoid all of these pitfalls from exercising their right to vote.
How are all these things connected? Starting from childhood the state of Florida sets up PoC for failure and future life as convicted felons. In so doing it both enforces a false stereotype and disenfranchises a huge swathe of the populace, a larger percentage than any other state in the nation. In the process, it changes the law to allow people to take advantage of the false stereotype in order to do violence and to mount a legal defense when they do violence. Finally, the state does its best to disenfranchise the group most likely to vote them out of power.
This is the world we live in. This is not an accident. This is a systemic and systematic design. This is Jim Crow.