February 26, 2014

Bitter Rain

Guest Post by Jamie Ruff 

Black people – catching hell in America since the day we arrived.

There, I said it. Now dismiss me as another angry black man – because I am angry, and I am black. But that’s not quit accurate, because I have a joke for you.

The problem is that African Americans and Native Americans have unique, uncomfortable relationships with this nation.

Naive Americas are the former landlords who came home to find that through legal maneuvering and force of arms the family they had taken in had taken over and now owned the house, replacing every picture, the furniture and the carpet. Black Americans, by contrast, is the neighbor being held hostage in the home’s basement, his screams and cries ignored.

We all know the history: Every other ethnic group came; the African American was brought – in chains … under protest, not that it mattered. Every other ethic group has been assimilated and nurtured. We have been raped and robbed. Our talents and creativity is used to enrich, our due given generations later and reluctantly.

 We have had to fight for everything we got. We’ve had to take everything we have, and that is never forgotten: you took my job … you took welfare … you’re taking up air, the angry complain.
We are credited with having taken everything, yet we have so little; maybe that’s why we are culturally psychotic: we love our country thought it shots down our children; we want to celebrate our ethnicity, yet the same people who remind us that we are the others are just as quick to remind us that our ethnicity is American.

We’ve all had the conversation with a well intended white person at one time or another.
“Why be African American?” you’re asked. “Why not just be American?”

And, actually, we, like the Native American, are distinctly American. My roots go back to South Carolina and then back to – a continent. You can take pride your roots go back to Russia or France or England or Portugal or Spain or Germany. You can hand down names and words that reach back to that homeland, and maybe even a town or village. I have to make up names. The African American distinctness makes us a blend like no other. That should make me the good stuff. Top self. But, of course, it doesn’t. It makes me less likely to get a good paying job, more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, more likely to be incarcerated for the same crime that you don’t even get arrested for committing … shot  by another black man or by a cop I was running toward for help, or by a white man who can claim it was fear that make him carry a gun and pull it.

Let a black man shot a white child and see the outrage, but when a white man shots a black child -- that’s just the manifestation of fear, though no one ever seems to give a good explanation on how the grown man with the gun during the shooting at an unarmed child gets to be afraid.

I’m angry because it happened again.

On Saturday, Feb. 15th, after several days of deliberation, a Florida jury finally convicted Michael Dunn of four charges relating to his shooting into an SUV full of black teenagers during an argument over loud music, including three counts of attempted second-degree murder. The convictions are expected to put him behind bars for decades. But the jury failed to reach a verdict on the most serious charge of murdering 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

Dunn’s attorney, Cory Strolla, reported said that his client was “in disbelief” at the verdict and asked “how is this happening?”

I’m in disbelief and want to know how this happened, too? I can’t help but wonder how he could not be convicted of murder?

State Attorney Angela Corey said prosecutors will seek to try him again on the murder charge. That’s a good thing, but it misses the bigger point. Dunn is not the first white man to shot an unarmed black teenager and have a jury not think it murder and I’m fearful he won’t be the last.

Of course, the most famous was another Florida case, the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Like Dunn, Zimmerman argued self defense, though he, too, was armed and made a point of confronting and shooting to death an unarmed black teenager whose only offense seems to have been drawing the ire of a white man.

On Nov. 23, 2012, Dunn pulled into a Jacksonville gas station in Jacksonville, parking next to a red Dodge Durango that Davis and some friends were in. They had stopped to buy gum and cigarettes; Dunn had just left his son's wedding and was with his fiancée, who went inside the store for wine and chips.

Dunn said he asked the youths to turn down the music and was threatened, claiming he saw the barrel of a gun sticking out of the Durango. Investigators did not find a weapon. Dunn fired 10 shots at the SUV. When he left the store, Dunn drove 40 miles to a bed and breakfast in St. Augustine, where he walked his dog, ordered a pizza, then drank rum and cola. Apparently that’s how he deals with being “stunned and horrified,” since that’s how he later explained he felt. He also did not bother to call police and tell them what happened.
And still a jury couldn’t be convinced of his guilt.

So here’s my angry black man joke:

How many white men does it take to murder a black child?

None. A white man can’t murder a black child.

Not funny? I’m not laughing either …

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