Justice for Jordan

When the jury in the first trial against Michael Dunn came back as deadlocked regarding the charge of 1st degree murder I was saddened and upset.  I believed that the Duval County Prosecutor’s Office would not retry Dunn.  He was found guilty of the other 4 charges, including the attempted murder of the other occupants of the car, and was looking at a sentence of 60 years in prison.  But the prosecutor’s office didn’t think that was good enough.  They decided to go to trial again on the sole count of 1st degree murder.

I am happy to say that the jury came back today with a decision of guilty.  I have to admit when I saw the make-up of the jury-7 white men, 3 white women, 1 black man, and 1 black woman-had me scared that Jordan would not get justice and his death would have been in vain.  In a country that has a long history with race relations, something that a lot of people sweep under the rug or choose to ignore, and in a city with which I am very familiar, I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out.  But I am extremely happy that Michael Dunn was found guilty.

This verdict is much more than a man being found guilty of murder.  This verdict shows that you can’t shoot and kill someone because you feel disrespected.  Because a child doesn’t respond to you the way you would like.  Because someone was playing music you didn’t like.  And, most importantly, this verdict shows that the lives of Black boys matter.

Jordan, you did not die in vain.  Your life matters.  And the man that took it away will spend the rest of his life in prison.

What’s Really Important

Everyone has become obsessed with Donald Sterling and his racist remarks (which is nothing new) and the elevator fight seen ’round the world with Solange and Jay-Z.  But in the grand scheme of things, these things don’t really matter.  Sterling being a racist is nothing new, based on a housing discrimination suit brought against him.  And the perfect façade the Carters have built has crumpled slightly – boo hoo.

I have talked about missing girls before on my blog before, specifically Mitrice Richardson.  I have failed to talk about the 234 missing girls in Nigeria, who have reportedly been kidnapped by terrorist group Boko Haram; the group has threatened that the girls will be sold as wives, if they have not been already.   And I have loved seeing the world, specifically Americans, come together to help rescue these children.  Unfortunately, we do not do the same with girls in our own country.

According to The Covering House, human trafficking generates $9.5 million each year in the United States, and the average age of children forced into prostitution is 13-14 years old.  The top areas in this country for human trafficking include Las Vegas, Charlotte, Chicago, Houston, and Washington, DC.   Unfortunately, there are not enough resources for underage victims to receive help and assistance if they are able to leave these situations.

Let’s not forget Relisha Rudd, the 8 year old girl who was last seen on March 1.   She was reportedly with Kahlil Tatum, a custodian that worked at the homeless shelter where Relisha lived with her mother and three younger brothers.  Police believe Tatum killed his wife and then killed himself.   Unfortunately, authorities are not close at all to finding Relisha.  They are still looking for her and treating it as a recovery mission.

While I applaud all of us for bringing attention to these girls in Nigeria, let’s not forget that there are girls, and boys, in our own backyard who may be victims of kidnapping and/or human trafficking.  To help end human trafficking in the US, you can contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center to find out about organizations in your city, learn the red flags of human trafficking, meet with your local or state government officials, organize a fundraiser, among other activities.

The only way to end it is if we stand up and are united.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

No Means No

While driving to work this morning, I listened to the Russ Parr Morning Show during the People Poll question segment.  (I’m a notorious channel surfer.)  The question dealt with the recent news surrounding former NFL player Darren Sharper, who has been accused of sexual assault on a total of nine women in five different states; so far he’s only been formally charged in two states-most recently Arizona-with charges pending in other states, along with Erick Nunez. There are even reports that state some of these women were drugged.  Parr asked, “Do women bare some of the responsibility if they are sexually assaulted?”  I genuinely wanted to hear what people thought, so my ears perked up.  And I was shocked at what I heard.

Most of the callers, especially the women, stated that women do bare some of the responsibility if they are sexually assaulted.  I.was.floored.  I was even more shocked when a victim of sexual assault called in and said she deserved to shoulder some of the responsibility of her attack.  The only person who said anything that made any type of sense was the show’s “intern”, Brittany.  If a woman is drunk, has been drugged, or is otherwise incoherent, she cannot consent, and thus anything that happens to her is rape.

Now, let’s chat for a minute.  Growing up, heck even now at 31 years old, my mother told me to always be careful, be extra cautious when I’m out by myself, and to not go out alone at night.  Essentially, she was telling me to never make myself a target for a predator.  Now, since I am not a parent and I don’t have any brothers, I wonder what the parents of sons are teaching them.  Are they being told to respect women?  To not take advantage of women?  To not attack them?  To leave a woman alone when she says “no”, REGARDLESS of what is being done when she says it OR what she has on?

As I’ve stated in a previous post, we live in a patriachal society, so I doubt it.  At least not to the degree that little girls/women are told to not make themselves a target.  Not to the degree that we are told to not dress provocatively.  Not to the degree that we are told to behave like a lady to not give people the wrong impression.

If I can make an educated guess, little boys/young men are taught to be assertive, go-getters, and to weild as much power and prowess as they can.  And due to no limitations being put on them, they are used to getting what they want.  They are not used to hearing “no”.  And God forbid he’s an athlete AND attractive.  That’s a recipe for disaster.  He’s used to getting what he wants-the girl, the (fixed) grades, the acceptance letter to a big college, and the chance to go pro.

Clearly non-professional athletes are guilty of sexual assault as well.  But some men like to feel powerful.  And when someone, anyone, wants to take that power away, they feel threatened.  And a huge disservice is being done when we make our children think they can get whatever they want.  Why?  Because they become adults who think they can get whatever they want and will take it, regardless of what has to be done to get it.

A friend on Facebook once updated her status to say that we teach our girls about sexual assault and how to avoid it, but are boys taught the same thing?  If not, I implore parents of young men to sit your sons down and talk to them.  Tell them that when a young lady says “no” she means “no”.  Tell them they can’t always get what they want.  Tell them how to protect themselves and to not put themselves in a compromising position.

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

Here We Go Again…

You know, Michael Dunn may spend the rest of his life in prison, but Jordan Davis still has not received justice. And as Southern Dad pointed out to me this weekend after the jury came back with a verdict on 4 of the 5 counts Dunn was charged with, Dunn’s punishment for his misdeed may not come on this Earth, but it will come from the Lord. While I know he is right, I find it completely unfathomable that he (Dunn) could not be found guilty of murdering an unarmed CHILD but found guilty of attempted second degree murder. As I mentioned in my personal Facebook page, I think the prosecution overcharged Dunn; I think he should have been charged with second degree murder. And Angela Corey, the state attorney, mentioned that the state intends to re-try Dunn for the murder of Davis, but they (the prosecution) will speak with Jordan’s family before moving forward.

Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, has the right idea; she has said that she will pray for Dunn and his family. Would it not be amazing if we ALL thought as she? Without having hate or malice in our hearts. Although the state of Florida plans to re-try Dunn, is it worth it? As long as he does not become free after any appeals, which he plans on doing, he is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison. Should the state use time and resources to do this all over again? I honestly don’t know. Hopefully, if Dunn does appeal his convictions, they will not be overturned, and he will have to spend the rest of his days in jail.

Lastly, I’m going to share some names with you, and I hope you all do a Google search – Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, and Hadiya Pendleton. And let’s not forget Jonathan Ferrell and Renisha McBride. Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

Let Me Tell You About Jordan and Michael

In recent weeks, innocent Black people have been killed at the hands of others who had no real provocation to shoot them.  (Think my fellow FAMU Rattler Jonathan Ferrell and Renisha McBride.)  Last November, at a Gate gas station in Jacksonville, FL 17 year-old Jordan Davis was shot by Michael Dunn.

The facts are there were four teenage boys riding in a Dodge Durango and getting gas one Sunday afternoon.  Michael Dunn and his girlfriend pulled up to  the pump next to them.  Dunn asked the boys to turn their music down.  The boys did not oblige.  An argument ensued. Dunn said he saw a gun. Dunn goes to his car, loads his gun, and fires 8 shots into the Durango.  He goes back to his car, drives to his hotel, has dinner, goes to sleep, and drives back to his home in south Florida.  (Dunn was in Jacksonville to attend his son’s wedding.) When he arrives, police are already waiting to arrest him.  Two of those eight shots hit Jordan Davis and killed him.  No one else was hit.

When Dunn was shooting at the teenagers, the driver of the Durango drove away to escape the shots.  He then turned back into the gas station to get help for his friend.  Police searched the area surrounding the station.  No gun, or any type of weapon that resembled a gun, was found around the scene of the crime.  Thanks to the quick thinking of witnesses, one wrote down Michael Dunn’s license plate number; that’s why police were waiting on him when he got home.

Dunn said he was scared and afraid that more “thugs” were coming after him in a second car, and that’s why he fled the scene.  My thinking is, if he was REALLY and TRULY scared, why didn’t he call the police?  He could have easily left the scene, called police, and agreed to meet them somewhere away from the gas station to report what happened.  I just find it hard to believe that if he felt as if he was really defending himself, why did he run?  In my experience, people who run and hide are usually guilty of something.

Michael Dunn’s trial date has been set to start on February 3, 2014.  I truly hope that justice is served for the young Mr. Davis.  I’m writing this because a wrong has been done.  A young life was senselessly and violently taken.  And I’m writing this to make sure you all are aware.  Don’t think for one moment that this does not affect you because you did not know Jordan or you don’t know Michael or you don’t live in Jacksonville.  This affects all of us, because what we don’t realize is that if we do not stand up when wrongs occur, it could give someone else in our own backyard the idea to do the same thing.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

P.S. This is a wonderfully written article regarding this crime.  I hope you all will read it.