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Maurice Tracy Headshot

You Are Not My Peer

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Warning this blogger is over it

With all due respect White America, hell maybe even Non-Black America, but you are not my peers and as such you should not (and have consistently proven that in general you cannot or refuse to fairly do so) judge my brothers and sisters in any legal sense, be us either alleged perpetrator of a crime or the victim of a crime, particularly when that crime is committed against us by a Non-Black person.

Let us look at the latest incident: We have Michael Dunn, a White man pull into a gas station and because he did not like the music playing from a car of Black youths, because he felt threatened and claimed he saw a gun in their car after he "confronted" them, he shot 10 bullets into their car. (God save me from anyone who is triggered by loud Beyonce or Whitney Houston music because those two get turned down for no one.) He then went home, had more to drink (he was originally coming from a wedding reception), walked his dog, ordered delivery, and then once he discovered he killed someone he managed to take a nap. Sure he had stomach pains for four hours prior but he took a nap. Please, let this sink in:

He. Took. A. Nap.

His own fiance states that he NEVER mentioned seeing a gun. Because he didn't. Police searched the vehicle the Black youths were in and inside was basketballs, cups, a tripod--scary!

This should have been an open and shut case. Easy. You are unprovoked and shoot unarmed defenseless people and kill one of them you have committed murder. You knew what you were doing; you knew the potential outcome for shooting at people; you did it; we know you did it; you are guilty.

So how can a jury find you guilty of attempting to kill people but not actually guilty of murder--when the murder is the result of you being successful at your attempt to kill people?

All I am left with one of two possible conclusions:

1) The "jury of your peers" idea is dicey because apparently a lot of my peers intellectually leave something to be desired. Because if you cannot look at that scenario and use common sense, put 1 and 2 together and make 3, you give me 2.5 then, you seriously worry me; your brain seriously worries me; I am worried about your competence. But, you know, I don't think this conclusion is correct. So, what else could it be?

2) We Black people do not have peers in the legal sense. I am not talking about intellectual peers, or us being culturally superior or inferior; I am talking about we fundamentally lack peers in this country to provide us with justice when it comes to Black bodies.

How can I expect justice for Black bodies in this country when -- and this is what this jury's decision as well as the George Zimmerman trial decision tells us, confirms for us -- so many in Non-Black America (and even a few in Black America) cannot, do not, see Black bodies as fully human and deserving of respect, care, and our lives deserving of justice?

As a response to the Michael Dunn verdict, in order to aid our community with self-care, blogger and twitter-intellectual @Anti_Intellect re-shared a clip of a Toni Morrison interview in which she speaks about blackness and criminality and she states: "Blackness and criminality is merged in the mind of most White Americans." Now in this clip Morrison is speaking about the Black person, usually Black men, as the alleged perpetrator of violence, but what recent events have shown us is that Black people, Black Americans, Black males in particular, always exist in a state of presumed guilt and criminality. We live in a country where our lives are to be, in some way shape or form, marked by violence--and yes, regardless of where we live and how we live, our lives are marked by violence because as thinking people we must confront on an almost daily basis the reality of what this country thinks about us, what some of us think about ourselves, and what is occurring to us and our brothers and sisters -- and it is assumed that this violence will always be our responsibility. That any White or Non-Black culpability in the violence that is visited upon our lives can be explained away simply by claiming that one is afraid. And for this defense to work, and it has worked, more than once, what must occur, what must be present, what is essential is that at least one person in a jury must be able to understand, be empathetic with, know in their bones that they too would see a Black body and be afraid, that they too see a n*gger, a thug, a threat.

So yes, while I am sure there are plenty of wonderful legal arguments as to why I should trust a jury of my peers, and that those peers can just simply be any plain old American citizens, I am sorry but no; I do not feel comfortable trusting justice when it comes to Black bodies--be they the defendant or the victim--to people who are culturally taught not to see my humanity.