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Latest Florida Killing Microcosm of Race Relations in America

by Todd A. Smith

Death, Not in Vain

 

            There is hope for race relations in America after all. 

Although 2012 brought out the worse in bigotry in some regards with the Trayvon Martin murder and secession talk after President Barack Obama’s reelection, there is a great possibility that all of these controversies have not been in vain. 

Nevertheless, America still has a long way to go, but its progress should not be ignored or taken lightly.

            Unfortunately, a recent killing in Florida has presented this country with a microcosm of race relations in America.

            According to “Headline News,” last Friday in Jacksonville, Fla., Michael David Dunn pulled into an area convenient store parking lot where a group of Black teenagers sat in a sports utility vehicle blasting loud music.

            When Dunn asked the teenagers to turn down their music, a profanity-last argument ensued, and Dunn allegedly fired eight or nine shots into the SUV killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

            Dunn claimed that the teenagers had a shotgun in the car and said he fired on them in self-defense.  Instead of calling the authorities, Dunn returned home to Brevard County, Fla, not finding out the teen died until the next morning.  When asked why he did not notify the authorities immediately of his act of his self defense, Dunn said he feared retaliation from gang members.

            Unlike the Martin murder, Jacksonville, Fla. authorities arrested Dunn almost immediately, but similar to the Martin murder a Black teenager was senselessly murdered because he was perceived as a threat.

            Despite the obvious presence of racism in this country, race relations in America are getting better despite the glass half-empty image that is usually shaped in the media.

            Unfortunately for intelligent Americans, bigots exist amongst us and all that can be done to help them is to educate them instead of persecuting them.  However in many cases, those responsible for poor race relations in America seem to be from older generations and hopefully that old negative mentality will die out with them.

            Many people, especially educators, who spend time with America’s young people, notice an indifference to race amongst them.  It is doubtful that any of those people are suggesting that racism is totally nonexistent amongst the younger generation, but race seems to be a lot less important to them than it was to previous generations.

            Furthermore, it seems that Florida authorities have learned from their mistakes in the Martin murder investigation.  They did not wait for a nationwide uproar to arrest an obvious murderer, they did their job in a timely fashion and Dunn will soon have his day in court for the death of Davis.
            That shows that Martin’s death was not in vain, as so many protestors feared initially.

            And although the swift arrest of Dunn represents that America is learning its lesson, the fact that Dunn even had to be arrested shows that we still have so far to go when it comes to race relations in America.

            Fortunately, there is a silver lining in Martin’s martyrdom and it is if we acknowledge our shortcomings when it pertains to race relations in America, the day will soon come when America’s potential will become more than hope and more like reality.

Smith is publisher of Regal Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

This article was published on Friday 30 November, 2012.
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