There was a sense of entitlement so obvious in the actions of Michael Dunn, who is white, when he fired those 10 shots into a vehicle occupied by four unarmed Black Florida teenagers.
We’ve all heard Dunn’s rationale: the teens’ music was too loud, he told them to turn it down, he thought he saw a gun, he feared for his life and then he began shooting. His spree resulted in the death of Jordan Davis, yet another unarmed Black teenager who senselessly lost his life because of the audacious actions of another human being.
Among its definitions of the word “entitlement,” Merriam Webster says it is a “belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges.”
Dunn believed he was entitled to tell those young men what to do, although he was not their authority figure. Dunn also believed he had the right to fire multiple rounds into the SUV. And if that wasn’t enough, Dunn felt so entitled that he didn’t stick around to claim responsibility for his actions. He simply drove off into the night.
I made the mistake of listening to some of Dunn’s phone calls from prison. I wish I had not wasted my precious time on such a self-absorbed man. During his conversations, he repeatedly boasted about how he was attacked and that he was the true victim. He also made several references to African-Americans he was incarcerated with as “animals.” But the insults didn’t end there. The delusional and obviously insensitive Dunn even compared himself to a rape victim.
“It made me think of, like, the old TV shows and movies, where how police used to think, when a chick got raped, ‘Oh, it’s her fault because the way she was dressed,’” Dunn told his fiancee.
He laughingly continued, “Yeah, and I’m like, so it’s my fault because I asked them to turn their music down. I got attacked and I fought back because I don’t want to be a victim and now I’m in trouble. I refuse to be a victim and now I’m incarcerated.”
You have to be an incredibly entitled and arrogant person to behave as Dunn did.
There are several things that I’ve witnessed in life that I have not liked – loud music being one of them – but never have I yelled at anyone and demanded they reduce the volume. Though I may not have liked the loud music, it was not my business to tell people I didn’t know to turn their music down.
What gave Dunn such a right? What makes someone – regardless of their race, age or gender feel it’s OK to violently end the life of another individual?
And more specific to youths like Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin, when will people stop looking at Black youth as threats? Is it because of the clothing they wear? Is it because of their facial expressions, or is it simply because they are Black?
It’s probably all of these factors with the latter having more of an emphasis than others.
The lives of Black males – youth and otherwise, are devalued and that’s not fair. It’s not right, and something has to be done about it.
While it seems like a slow way to institute change, the best way to end such senseless crimes against our youth is to change the laws. Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is full of loopholes and flawed beyond belief. We’ve seen it with Trayvon Martin’s case, we’ve seen it with Marissa Alexander case, and we’ve seen it with Jordan Davis’ case. Justice will not be served until laws are changed. It all comes down to participating in the political process and electing people who are fair, just and open-minded. Until laws like Stand Your Ground are rewritten, attacks on our youth will continue and because of the complexities of the law, justice probably will not be served.
The jury’s indecisiveness on Dunn’s first-degree murder charge gave him the benefit of doubt. Today’s young Black males are not receiving that same benefit. Instead, they are losing their lives. Their pure existence is being eliminated like yesterday’s trash.