There exists all types of slavery.
We have the easily, identifiable and historical sorts of human bondage. We know it when we see it; it’s apparent in the inhumanity and the degree in which such systematic brutality is served upon a particular people. Other times, folks are being repressed and they aren’t even aware of it. That’s where we are now. The trappings from years past may have changed- no chains, no whips, no Jim Crow-but the overall outcome is still the same; black men are dying, their life and existence in every day society, suspect. That’s the lesson I took from the Jordan Davis murder trial.
Watching Michael Dunn during the proceedings, I couldn’t help but notice the level of smugness he brought into the courtroom. I asked myself if he knew or had contemplated what could possibly lie ahead of him. I mean, nobody is assured of an acquittal even when truly innocent so I was at a loss for his, what I thought was, cavalier attitude about the events that went down.
Maybe it was me but it seemed he was comfortable with the deed, showing no remorse. Even more frightening, his demeanor spoke volumes that he would do it all over again, if given the chance not so much because he had to-I’m not buying the “he had a gun” claim-but more so because he wanted to. In my opinion, he liked what he had done and it’s that underlying glee that speaks to privilege and expectations of another time; a period when the courts refused to provide blacks with equal protection under the law.
Today, these expectations of privilege and the following judgments and thought processes in lock step behind them, are slowly insinuating themselves into all aspects of our society again, as if they’d never left.
So while we battle the courts in 2014-let that date sink in for a minute-for equal protection under the law in SYG states, elsewhere the inequities continue, flourish even. There are still disparities in healthcare, inconsistencies in incarceration, biases in employment pay, working conditions and hiring as well as discrimination in housing. You can’t consider any one without the other and must continue to look at the big picture.
We see them and yet, we don’t see them, these new chains of bondage. They’re not as heavy as the ones of old nor do they rattle or make it hard for us to move around but they’re no less damaging-to any and every man-than their very real predecessors. We’re simply getting used to wearing them and that’s a big problem.