The Little Murders Matter Too.

Hadiya is gone, but she must not be forgotten.

Hadiya is gone, but she must not be forgotten.

The one thing I want to make clear is while I’m in pain over the murder of Justin Davis by Michael Dunn, I’m not in any more pain than I am over the death of a Hadiya Pendelton and the distressingly long list of Black people who meet their ends not at the hands of a trigger-happy Dunn or George Zimmerman, but through random acts of  cruel and destructive street violence.

Hadiya Pendleton was the innocent victim of gang warfare. President Obama mentioned her in his State of the Union address.

CBS 2′s Jim Williams talked to Hadiya’s parents, who despite their grief have been very busy in the past year. January 29th is an anniversary Cleo and Nate Pendleton dread.

Cleo Pendleton, Hadiya’s mother, called it “the darkest day of our lives.”

“I don’t look forward to the 29th at all,” said Hadiya’s father, Nate Pendleton.

“I’m afraid of the 29th because I remember what it felt like last year,” Cleo said.

One year ago Wednesday, their daughter Hadiya was shot to death near her high school. The 15-year-old honor student was the victim of alleged gang members who fired into a crowd.

“We grieve always. Talking to you, we’re grieving. Talking about our baby is sad because it’s in the past tense,” said Cleo Pendleton.

The Pendletons will mark the anniversary at an after-school assembly with Hadiya’s classmates at King College Prep High School, which has been decked out in purple – Hadiya’s favorite color.

Trayvon Martin’s parents.

I’m angry and I’m hurt, but not more angry and hurt than I am when the 11:00 news is on and there’s yet another shooting and yet another dead body on the South side of the city where I live.   I’ve written thousands upon thousands upon thousands about Black boys and Black girls and Black men and Black women and Black children who met premature and senseless ends at the hands of someone who looks like them.

To limit my outrage to White killers and Black victims or fatal encounters with cops marginalizes and trivializes the little murders that aren’t front page news, don’t spark marches or soul-searching speeches and commentaries or shake our collective consciences.   Every murder matters to somebody and it shouldn’t take an angry racist like Michael Dunn to make Justin Davis matter to me.

In 2012, USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham wrote, “Taking on this problem is no civil rights photo op. It’s a campaign that could last as long as the U.S. military action in Afghanistan — America’s longest war. But the payoff for solving it would be huge. It could stabilize black communities…most important, a campaign to end these murders will save the lives of the thousands of blacks who are killed by other blacks each year, an effort that currently lacks the intensity of the call for justice for Trayvon Martin.”

Had Justin died from a bullet fired by a brother instead of a bigot would his death mean any less to me?   If Black life isn’t valued and treasured and protected among each other we can hardly be shocked when it is not valued by anyone else.

I grieve for every deplorable death in my community..  The tragedy of a murdered Black child is not magnified exclusively by the White skin of their killer.

We can do better.  We must do better.  Nothing less than our the future of the race is at stake and when our children are lost to  We can spare some family the agony the families of Hadiya, Justin and Trayvon live with every day.

To paraphrase Joseph Stalin, every kid’s death is a tragedy.  The fact we don’t know all their names should not make them only a statistic.

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“If They Take You In The Morning, They Will Be Coming For Us That Night”

Jordan Davis is Dead. But not murdered?

I wish I had something more to say about the fact that Michael Dunn was not convicted for killing a black boy. Except I said it after George Zimmerman was not convicted of killing a black boy. Except the parents of black boys already know this. Except the parents of black boys have long said this, and they have been answered with mockery.

Jordan Davis had a mother and a father. It did not save him. Trayvon Martin had a mother and a father. They could not save him. My son has a father and mother. We cannot protect him from our country, which is our aegis and our assailant. We cannot protect our children because racism in America is not merely a belief system but a heritage, and the inability of black parents to protect their children is an ancient tradition.

Ta-Neshi Coates/”On the Killing of Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn”

James Baldwin (photo credit ReciteThis.com)

One might have hoped that, by this hour, the very sight of chains on black flesh, or the very sight of chains, would be so intolerable a sight for the American people, and so unbearable a memory, that they would themselves spontaneously rise up and strike off the manacles. But, no, they appear to glory in their chains; now, more than ever, they appear to measure their safety in chains and corpses.

The American triumph—in which the American tragedy has always been implicit—was to make black people despise themselves. When I was little I despised myself, I did not know any better. And this meant, albeit unconsciously, or against my will, or in great pain, that I also despised my father. And my mother. And my brothers. And my sisters. Black people were killing each other every Saturday night out on Lenox Avenue, when I was growing up; and no one explained to them, or to me, that it was intended that they should; that they were penned where they were, like animals, in order that they should consider themselves no better than animals. Everything supported this sense of reality, nothing denied it: and so one was ready, when it came time to go to work, to be treated as a slave. So one was ready, when human terrors came, to bow before a white God and beg Jesus for salvation—this same white God who was unable to raise a finger to do so little as to help you pay your rent, unable to be awakened in time to help you save your child!

Angela Davis

Angela Davis

We know that we, the blacks, and not only we, the blacks, have been, and are, the victims of a system whose only fuel is greed, whose only god is profit. We know that the fruits of this system have been ignorance, despair, and death, and we know that the system is doomed because the world can no longer afford it—if, indeed, it ever could have. And we know that, for the perpetuation of this system, we have all been mercilessly brutalized, and have been told nothing but lies, lies about ourselves and our kinsmen and our past, and about love, life, and death, so that both soul and body have been bound in hell.

Some of us, white and black, know how great a price has already been paid to bring into existence a new consciousness, a new people, an unprecedented nation. If we know, and do nothing, we are worse than the murderers hired in our name.

If we know, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own—which it is—and render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.

An Open Letter to My Sister, Miss Angela Davis by James Baldwin/November 19, 1970

This innocent country set you down in a ghetto in which, in fact, it intended that you should perish. Let me spell out precisely what I mean by that for the heart of the matter is here and the crux of my dispute with my country. You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits to your ambition were thus expected to be settled. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity and in as many ways as possible that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence. You were expected to make peace with mediocrity. Wherever you have turned, James, in your short time on this earth, you have been told where you could go and what you could do and how you could do it, where you could live and whom you could marry.

Please try to be clear, dear James, through the storm which rages about your youthful head today, about the reality which lies behind the words “acceptance” and “integration.” There is no reason for you to try to become like white men and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you. The really terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them, and I mean that very seriously. You must accept them and accept them with love, for these innocent people have no other hope. They are in effect still trapped in a history which they do not understand and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it. They have had to believe for many years, and for innumerable reasons, that black men are inferior to white men.

Many of them indeed know better, but as you will discover, people find it very difficult to act on what they know. To act is to be committed and to be committed is to be in danger. In this case the danger in the minds and hearts of most white Americans is the loss of their identity. Try to imagine how you would feel if you woke up one morning to find the sun shivering and all the stars aflame. You would be frightened because it is out of the order of nature. Any upheaval in the universe is terrifying because it so profoundly attacks one’s sense of one’s own reality. Well, the black man has functioned in the white man’s world as a fixed star, as an immovable pillar, and as he moves out of his place, heaven and earth are shaken to their foundations.

A Letter to My Nephew by James Baldwin/ December 1962

James Baldwin. Right then. Still right now.

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Stand Your Ground (and Kill Who You Want)

A wrong-headed law that gives people to kill without punishment.

A wrong-headed law that gives people to kill without punishment.

With his trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin not slated to begin until next year, don’t think for a minute George Zimmerman isn’t spending his free time dreaming up new hustles to separate suckers from their money.

His latest one is a post on his official website when Zimmerman claims  the “George Zimmerman Defense Fund is at its lowest, and new funds must be raised to support George’s living expenses and legal costs.”   Give now and you’ll receive a note that reads “Thank you for your support, [signed] your friend, George Zimmerman.”

I have no idea what kind of person would give money to a cowardly punk like Zimmerman and I hope I never meet anyone that would.   I’m not a violent man, but I do have fantasy of what I might do if George Zimmerman, a metal baseball bat, a locked room and me were to all converge simultaneously in an act of cosmic justice.

Who needs a bloody fantasy when  you can make them reality and under Florida’s twisted Stand Your Ground law you can kill who you want when you want because you want  and  nobody seems interested if  allows people to get away with murder.

Michael David Dunn will be brought from Brevard County to Jacksonville after entering a not-guilty plea to charges of murder and attempted murder in the Friday shooting death of a 17-year-old student at a Jacksonville gas station.

Dunn, 45, of Satellite Beach, waived extradition and should be en route back to Jacksonville before Thursday to face charges in the death of Jordan Russell Davis, according to Lt. Tod Goodyear, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

A gun collector in Jacksonville for his son’s wedding, Dunn told police he felt “threatened” after an argument with the Wolfson High student over loud music coming from a sports-utility vehicle parked next to him at the Gate station at 8251 Southside Blvd. Davis was in the back seat when “there were words exchanged,” followed by gunfire at 7:40 p.m., said Jacksonville homicide Lt. Rob Schoonover.

“Our suspect produced a weapon and started firing into the vehicle. Our victim was shot a couple of times,” Schoonover said. “ … They were listening to the music. It was loud; they [other teens] admitted that. But I mean that is not a reason for someone to open fire on them.”

Jordan Davis.  Victim.  Dead.

Jordan Davis. Victim. Dead.

Schoonover said Dunn and his girlfriend were next to the red SUV containing Davis and three of his friends. Dunn’s girlfriend was inside when Dunn and Davis exchanged words. Shots were fired, leaving Davis hit and eight or nine bullet holes in the SUV, Schoonover said.

The couple drove off after Dunn told her he had “fired at these kids,” Schoonover said. They went to their hotel, then returned to Brevard County when they learned what had happened from local news.

Witnesses gave police Dunn’s license plate number, which led police to his home. Schoonover said Dunn was planning to turn himself in when he was arrested.

Ever been at a red light when right next to you some big-ass Escalade rolled up and the bass was bumping so loud it’s not just rattling their windows, it’s rattling yours too?   How many times have you wished you could scream, “Hey!  Turn that shit DOWN!”   But you don’t.  You just sit there fuming and wishing the damn light would turn green already.

Or maybe if you’re strapped and feeling like you’ve had about as much as you can stand, you do tell the rude kids in the big-ass Escalade to turn that shit down.  Maybe you even follow them and decide to enforce some city codes about noise.

Dunn’s attorney explained what her client’s defense would be for shooting the unarmed Davis, “It will be very clear that Mr. Dunn acted very responsibly and as any responsible firearms owner would have acted under these circumstances.”

Lemonidis told a Jacksonville television station, “All he did was pull up next to this car, or the car pulled up next to him, he’s on the passenger side of their car, and he said, he rolled down his window and politely said, ‘Would you mind turning that music down?'” Lemonidis said. “And the driver apparently turned it off immediately. Then he hears from the back, ‘That (expletive), he can’t, that (expletive), we ain’t going to tell us where to turn our music down,’ and boom, they cranked it back up as loud as it would go. Louder than it had been.”

“When he saw the shotgun barrel come up in the rear passenger window, he saw about three to four inches of it,” Lemonidis said. “He estimated the gauge of the shotgun, the type, everything, he’s very familiar with firearms, as I said, owns firearms and has since he was in third grade. He immediately went into self-defense mode, which any responsible firearms owner would do.”

When informed the police said no weapon was found in the vehicle Davis was riding in, Lemonidis replied, “I humbly suggest that they may not have looked hard enough, and it certainly would not have been in the vehicle when they looked unless they had stopped it immediately, which I doubt they did.”

Lemonidis did not say whether Dunn would invoke the Stand Your Ground defense.

This isn’t self-defense.  This isn’t even Zimmerman’s bullshit claim that his role as part of a neighborhood block watch gave him the authority to stalk, confront and kill Trayvon Martin.   This is straight-up street justice when whatever it is that annoys or scares you is all the pretext needed to pull out your piece and start blasting.

Haven’t we been here before?  Yes, we have and we will revisit this story again with only the names and places changing as long as Florida and other states in this gun-crazy country makes hunting human beings legal.

Mr. Dunn, meet Mr.  Zimmerman.  You two should hang out.  You have so much in common.   Like the blood of dead young men on your hands.

Michael Dunn.  Shot Jordan Davis.  May go free.

Michael Dunn. Shot Jordan Davis. May go free.