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Dunn Case Not So Done Deal.

(SNN) - Controversy arose this week over the Michael Dunn case, often referred to as the "Florida loud music killing case." Briefly, Dunn, a White male, parked next to an SUV in which some Black teenagers sat listening to loud music, described by Dunn as "rap crap" and "thug" music. A disagreement ensued and Dunn, fired a 9-millimeter legal handgun into the SUV and continued firing as the SUV left. The gunfire struck Jordan Davis, one of the SUV's passengers, three times causing his death. According to the LA Times, Dunn thought he saw a shotgun in the SUV and fired because he felt threatened; however, no gun was found in the SUV. Jury members' disagreement over whether Dunn was guilty of first-degree murder resulted in a mistrial on that charge, though he was convicted on three counts of second-degree murder. The disagreement centered on whether Dunn's self-defense plea applied. Read what one of the Jurors had to say here.

One is reminded of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case in which Zimmerman (White and Peruvian) shot and killed Martin (Black) and was later acquitted. You can read about that case here.

Perhaps less well known is the case of Black American Marissa Alexander who fired a warning shot at her husband because she felt threatened (no one was harmed) and was subsequently sentenced to 20 years in prison. Read more about that here.

Much of the controversy revolves around "Stand Your Ground laws" and whether they excuse outright murder. To be fair, according to the LA Times, neither the Zimmerman nor Dunn legal team utilized these laws as a defense.

But there is something deeper going on here--the question of whether Black Americans are still negatively stereotyped and whether even the laws of this land are unfairly applied regarding them; in other words, whether we still have a long way to go to end racism. Clearly the answer is yes.

If anything good can come out of the Dunn case, it is a national dialogue about racism.

Some of that dialogue began Sunday when Twitter users responded to the Dunn case with poignancy using the hash tag "DangerousBlackKids," in which people posted pictures of adorable young Black and mixed-race children and young adults with sometimes humorously sarcastic messages about how stereotypically dangerous the kids in the photos are. Yet, as one Twitter respondent said, "The #dangerousblackkids tag is humanizing and important. But it's enraging that we black people STILL have to PROVE our basic humanity."

Yes, and it's also sad.

Negative stereotyping (dehumanizing) is first a psychological violence perpetrated on a perceived outsider group that ultimately leads to a more tangible violence of one sort or another. It requires educating to begin to eradicate.

Many Whites--particularly middle class and wealthy whites--live and work in environments largely segregated from meaningful interaction with other races or classes. Often stereotypes go unchallenged because people are not conscious of holding them, or are unaware that the stereotypes they hold are stereotypes, and are unaware of the violence they perpetrate by holding onto such stereotypes. This is a two-way street, though generally more dangerous for those less socially entitled.

It is regrettable that the burden of educating falls largely on those most adversely affected by this inequality, but it is always the case--just ask women's rights activists. The good news is things are changing. Not all White Americans need to be convinced Black Americans still largely have a raw deal. Many are ready and willing to challenge their own and other's preconceptions.

Here's hoping the Dunn case gives all of us the impetus to continue this dialogue and to make real advances toward a substantive equality and toward the day when no one will be considered an outsider. One thing is certain; the Dunn case is not over yet.

Maye Ralston is an opinion columnist for The Sage a blog contributor and member of the Midwest Writers Workshop Planning Committee. Her blog can be found at

Photo: Sample prison doors, Some rights reserved by kIM DARam flickr photostream, The Sage nor this article endorsed, The original photo can be found here.

DISCLAIMER: The above article is provided for entertainment purposes only and the article, image or photograph held out as news is a parody or satirical and therefore faux in nature and does not reflect the actions, statements or events of real persons. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the authors of The Sage Satire and forum participants on this web site do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the The Sage News Network or the official policies of the The Sage News.
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