“If America is freedom, and liberty, and equality, then it’s also racism. It’s our heritage.”
At the Daily Beast, Jamelle Bouie’s written the best thing I’ve read yet on the verdict in the trial of Michael Dunn for the murder of Jordan Davis. “The jury is a historically contingent group working in a historically contingent system,” he states. “For as much as we’d like to believe otherwise — hence the disappointment over the ruling — the institutionalized impartiality of our courtrooms isn’t equipped to deal with the fallout of our long, national romance with white supremacy.”
I can already imagine the howls from angry readers. “Why must you bring race into this?” But I haven’t brought race into anything. It’s already there. If a fourth dimensional being came to our planet, looked at the United States, and unfurled our four hundred years of history, it would see a single constant: The steady effort to make pariahs out of black people. And if it zoomed into the current moment, and looked at the Dunn trial, and read the decision, it would come away unsurprised. Knowing what it knows about America, what else could have happened? Like the Zimmerman verdict, the Dunn verdict fits our pattern of legal injustice. And when another black boy is killed for believing he’s human, as will happen, we shouldn’t be surprised when that also fits the pattern.
If this sounds like resignation, or fatalism, it isn’t (I was surprised by the ruling). It’s simply an attempt to look with clarity. If racist outcomes are a problem we want to solve — or if not solve, ameliorate — then we owe to ourselves to dismiss our illusions. If America is freedom, and liberty, and equality, then it’s also racism. It’s our heritage. But it doesn’t have to be our inheritance.