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When The Crime Is Who You Are Part V: The Right To Say No

February 6, 2014

The State of Florida v. Michael Dunn started today.

What’s that you say? You didn’t know that or maybe you haven’t even heard of the case?

This boy is dead.

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This is the person who killed him.

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Oh and it happened here,

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which should not be a surprise to anyone who has read this blog or seen the news in the past couple of years. For real people, there is a reason I voluntarily moved to a state where a good deal of winter is spend in negative degrees.

Global Grind has a great breakdown of the timeline so I’ll just expect you to follow the link rather than going over it in detail again.

The basics, which are not in dispute, are that the car that Jordan Michael Davis was riding in and the car that Michael Dunn was driving met up at a gas station and by the end of that meeting a boy was dead and his killer was driving home after having unsuccessfully chased the people he just shot at.

He. Chased. Them.

The other thing that most people seem to accept is that Dunn “asked,” Jordan and his friends to turn down the music in their car because it was too loud.

I do not accept this.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that Dunn said something that indicated his feeling that the music was too loud and he wanted it to be turned down.

Did Dunn ask them to turn it down?

No.

It wasn’t a “request.” Because, “could you please turn that down?” which would be a question, has very little likelihood of leading to shouting and cursing and shooting. Told? Demanded? Ordered? Much more likely to be the case.

Now it is possible that I am wrong. I mean, Dunn specifically stated that he politely asked that the music be turned down. I could be making this up out of whole cloth but I’m pretty smart, I used to live in Florida, and I’ve been not white all my life. So, I’m probably right.

Let me break this down for you.

White guy walks up to car full of black teens and orders them to turn down their music because he thinks it’s too loud? Extremely fucking common. It’s simple, people. It’s privilege. It’s the same privilege that led to a white guy stalking a black teen and thousands of people wondering why the teen didn’t just stop, identify himself and assure the white guy that he had the right to walk down the street while black.

It’s one of those things that many Caucasians don’t realize is an aspect of their privilege but People of Color must be aware of lest we risk our lives.

What do I mean by that? The problem that cause Dunn to shoot? It wasn’t the music.

Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, testified in front of the U.S. Senate, telling them that Dunn said this to the boys before he shot: “You’re not going to talk to me like that.”

It wasn’t the music. It was the denial of privilege. It was a man outraged at the denial of his right to regulate the behavior of PoC.

Why didn’t those kids just turn down the music and keep it low?

Because they didn’t have to. They had the right to tell the man who was probably not being overly polite to them, that they weren’t going to comply.

PoC have the right to tell Caucasians no. We even have the right to tell them to fuck off. I’m not saying it’s a good idea or polite or kind but do we have that right. Also, we do not have to pull up our pants or straighten our hair or ever let you touch it.

In case you were wondering, women do not have to smile, trans people do not have to reveal where they are on the journey of their transition and gays and lesbians do not have to hide their love for each other. We have the right to live our lives and in some cases doing so involves playing loud music.

Except clearly not in Florida. In Florida, denying someone’s privilege? It can get you killed. Because now, the prosecutors have to prove that Dunn was not in fear for his life and clearly, based on the results of the Trayvon Martin trial the fact that Dunn chased the car as these boys fled from him and then fled the scene himself, is not enough to prove that.

So I’ll ask again

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