Why the fantasy is naive, insidious and deadly
How false optimism on race seduces idealistic black youth into identifying with the very people who’d kill them
Last week, Creshuna Miles, Juror No. 8 in the Michael Dunn trial, gave an interview to CNN about the jury’s partial verdict. Although she believes that Michael Dunn is guilty of second-degree murder, a lesser charge for which the jury had the option to convict, she insisted that the case was “not about race,” that it never came up. Moreover, she believed Michael Dunn to be essentially “a good guy,” who made “bad choices.”
Startlingly, she also indicated that until Dunn ran down the street chasing Jordan’s three friends, she actually believed that Dunn acted in self-defense.
Post-racial thinking is insidious not only because it gives lie to the very real and continuing material consequences of racism in this country, but also because it seduces young, optimistic, idealistic black youth into identifying with the very systems and people who would kill them without a second thought — and then go order a pizza and a take a nap.
Part of what Miles’ impressions of Dunn reveal is that the defense did a far better job of humanizing Dunn for the jury than the prosecution did of humanizing Jordan for the jury.
But her impressions also reveal a deep disidentification with the seemingly retrograde racial politics that informed Dunn’s fatal engagement with Jordan Davis. Those 20th century-style racial politics take as a given that a group of young black men listening to rap music must be up to no good and that white harm is imminent.
Such thinking seems not to fit the cosmopolitan, progressive 21st century narrative of multiracial acceptance that ideological post-racialism pretends to be.
I know that jury selection is a strategy. And I know Creshuna Miles was picked because she is a black woman whose political views seem to be able to lay race to the side, even when it is so glaringly obvious.
Had Jordan Davis been white, he would still be alive. Maybe Michael Dunn would have yelled at a white Jordan Davis for bumping rap music, but he absolutely would not have perceived such a kid to be a threat or the playing of rap music loud enough to constitute a capital offense.