Choking on Grace

Ms. Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, the 17-year-old African American killed by 47-year-old Michael Dunn, followed the script.

According to Yahoo:

“Afterward his mother, Lucia McBath, expressed gratitude for the verdict. Sunday would have been the teen’s 19th birthday.

“We are so grateful for the truth,” McBath said. “We are so grateful that the jurors were able to understand the common sense of it all.” (http://news.yahoo.com/fla-man-guilty-lesser-counts-music-shooting-001256445.html)

Under the most horrific of circumstances, Ms. McBath was truly Christ-like and regal, controlled and gracious. 

Her journey has just begun. The unimaginable, unnatural grief of a parent burying a child will be followed by another well established script. Tasteless jokes at her son’s expense. Questions and impudent challenges about his background, his Facebook page, his friends, his life. But the facts remain. Teenaged behavior. Bullet. Morgue.

Ms. McBath reminded me so much of Trayvon Martin’s dignified parents: Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, and Mamie Till, Emmet Till’s mother. And so many, many others. The army of dead black and Latin men and their parents who were never even granted the dubious respect of being part of the news cycle. 

When I consider the perfection and super human restraint society demands of these parents, I want to scream, cry, rage, puke. The greatest tragedy are the deaths. And it’s not the same thing when young men of color are killed by peers. Why? Because there is a criminally much better chance that those perpetrators will be prosecuted and convicted. And because the legal jujitsu flips that are used to get these folks off is beyond insulting. 

The Field Negro has the most trenchant, concise analysis of the case that I’ve seen:

But this is a chicken and egg question; because when the justice system finds it necessary to treat the killers of young black men differently than they do others, we all see it. And we all know the deal. The system sends a message to all of us. 

“But Field, the man is looking at 60-90 years in jail, what more do you want?”

Well yes. But this is because Mr. Dunn chose to fire a second volley of shots into the SUV on that fateful night. He was charged and convicted of attempted murder of the other boys who actually lived. That is why he is going to probably spend the rest of his life in prison, not because he shot an innocent young black male in cold blood.

Following the logic of the verdict, if he had shot and killed all the young men in the car that night he would be a free man.

There are many things right and many things wrong with American society.  I’m not saying that women don’t suffer or that there is economic equality. But for this moment, I want to stop and acknowledge with rage and sorrow

  • Ms. Lucia McBath
  • Ms. Sabrina Fulton and Mr. Tracy Martin

and all the parents who crumble earth over caskets, can only whisper of justice, and must behave like robots to get a modicum of compassion, sometimes even from their own.  I send prayers in advance for the Halloween parties that will mock their sons, for the Facebook memes and Instagrams.  

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all of the days of my life. (Psalm 23)  Do they really? I believe Lord, Help my unbelief. (Mark 9:24)

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About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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