There’s a new nocturnal threat to young black men and its calling card isn’t a burning cross.
The past several weeks my social media timelines and threads have been full of commentary about the Michael Dunn trial. At this point, trials like these are becoming an annual event—as expected as the Olympic games, only more frequent. But there are no medals to be won here. Just graves to be dug. Questions left unanswered. Parent left to grieve. Much of the commentary surrounds the controversial Florida “Stand Your Ground” law. Like an experiment of a “mad scientist” legislature, its passage, in some people’s opinion, has meant open season on young, black men. It’s the culprit that claims victim after victim. In some ways, the law itself has taken on the profile of a serial killer—similar modus operandus and similar victims.
Why I Mourn
Though I am a lawyer, I’m not here to denounce the Florida law. That’s not my primary concern when it comes to young, black men. Don’t get me wrong, I mourn with the nation. I mourn with the parents of those young men whose lives were cut short in Florida. It’s a travesty.
But I also mourn with a nation that finds an average of about 6,500 blacks killed annually—most by other blacks. In our two most recent wars, spanning over a decade, there were about 8,000 soldiers killed—a truth that’s hard to swallow. Almost as many black lives taken in one year as the total death toll in two wars.
There were 421 homicides in Chicago alone last year. The locals call it Chi-raq—embracing the comparison to the conflict in Iraq. They speak of war zones and battles like they are playing a war-time RPG on an XBox or Playstation. But there’s no reset button in this game. No extra lives. The end result? Cemeteries filled with young, black men. Gone too soon.
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John C. Richards Jr.