Activists from around the country marched on Tallahassee Monday to protest what one writer for Salon is calling “open season on black teenagers: The onslaught of white murder.”
The most famous example of this onslaught came two years ago, when George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin. A jury ruled it was self-defense. The next example was last year, when Michael Dunn shot Jordan Davis after feeling threatened by Davis and his friends.
Earlier this month, a jury found Dunn guilty of three charges of second-degree murder for firing several bullets into a car. The jury could not reach a verdict for the killing of Jordan Davis. This prompted howls of protest from black writers and activists who say these two killings form a trend.
Several national media outlets glommed onto the narrative: Black people are victims of white violence. Not the other way around, as many who cite crime statistics maintain, noting that white-on-black crime is a relative rarity compared to black-on-white crime.
USA Today spoke with the parents of Jordan Davis about the protest rally. Said Davis’s mother, Lucia McBath:
We know that the image of young black men having guns and being thugs is pervasive across the country. It’s an established mindset that young black males in this country are dangerous. That young black males in this country are something to be reckoned with. That young black males in this country are people to be feared.
They tried to prepare their son for living in a world where white people can visit violence on black people at any time without any consequence. “Jordan felt really bad about what happened to Trayvon,” McBath said. “He said, ‘This could have been me. Trayvon was just like me.’”
If all that the speakers and protesters and reporters at the Tallahassee rally knew came from the daily newspapers, they could be forgiven for not being aware of the disproportionate nature of racial violence.
As has been documented in this space and exhaustively in my book “White Girl Bleed a Lot, the return of racial violence and how the media ignore it,” the truth about the directionality of race-based crime in America is a jealously guarded secret. It is so commonplace in the mainstream media, that an entire organization of journalists identifies as one of its missions the suppression of the race of perpetrators in news stories.
The most recent example of this deliberate self-blindering occurred a little less than a month ago in Cambridge, Mass. In reporting on an incident of the so-called “knockout” game, ABC affiliate WCVB described the perpetrator solely as “a tall, young man” despite the availability of surveillance video that showed he was black.
Is it any wonder the black community has adopted the same posture? In January, the Black Student Union at the University of Minnesota threatened the administration with “physical action” unless a list of its demands were met by a given date. Heading the list was a demand that the race of perpetrators in crimes on campus be omitted from future crime alerts.
Finally there is this: In Wilmington, Delaware one week ago, local minister Reverend Dr. Donald Morton was on TV talking about the Tallahassee rally, and how he was going to attend to protect “his people” from violence and racism. Sitting next to him was a six-foot, 300-pound black man named Howard Powell, who could easily be mistaken for a professional football offensive lineman.
Powell was visibly uncomfortable at Morton’s unilateral blame of white people for violence. And he said so: “What about black teenagers?” he asked. “I’m afraid of them too.”
Before he could say another word, Morton cut him off. “Don’t say that,” he cautioned. “Some people might use it the wrong way.”
Follow Colin Flaherty at his website, White Girl Bleed a Lot.