Michael Dunn Verdict and the Civil Rights Schism Between Blacks and Gays

Michael Dunn Verdict and the Civil Rights Schism Between Blacks and Gays

[The Washington Post]

Defendant Michael Dunn is brought into the courtroom just before 5 p.m., where Judge Russell Healey announced that the jury was deadlocked on charge one and have verdicts on the other four charges as they deliberate in the trial of Dunn, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, for the shooting death of Jordan Davis in November 2012. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Mack, Pool)
Defendant Michael Dunn is brought into the courtroom just before 5 p.m., where Judge Russell Healey announced that the jury was deadlocked on charge one and have verdicts on the other four charges as they deliberate in the trial of Dunn, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, for the shooting death of Jordan Davis in November 2012. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Mack, Pool)

The reaction to the mistrial in the Michael Dunn case on the first-degree murder charge for the 2012 killing Jordan Davis was predictable in a lot of ways. Another unarmed black teenager shot dead for the silliest of reasons. In this case it was loud music. But Frenchie Davis had a reaction that demands exploration.

The actress and singer, who is a veteran of “The Voice” and “American Idol,” posted a blunt message to the white gay community on her Facebook page the day after the Dunn verdict.

I need the gay community to STOP comparing our struggle to the Black Civil Rights Movement. You DON’T get to draw that comparison and then remain SILENT when the civil rights of Black teens are being violated. I mean, where the f— are y’all?!?! Yay! For Ellen Page coming out at an lgbt youth conference. I was there. I sang right after. But THAT should not have been our focus yesterday. How in the hell are we having conferences to inspire our youth to live their truths and then have absolutely nothing to offer to THIS conversation???? Dear White Gays, I am HEARTBROKEN by your continued silence on these issues and I DO NOT give you permission to high jack [sic] the Civil Rights Movement while simultaneously IGNORING the inequalites [sic] that youth of color face every f—ing day. It is culturally insensitive to do so and we are either fighting for EQUALITY for ALL or we aren’t. As an LGBT woman of color, I am having an extremely difficult time grasping WHY Matthew Shephard’s life is so much more valuable than Trayvon’s or Jordan’s????!?!?! Help me understand, y’all! Help me understand.

And with that broad brush, Davis exposed a simmering frustration many African Americans have with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The pursuit for LGBT rights has been called “a defining civil rights challenge of our time” by none other than Attorney General Eric Holder. He is among the four straight black men at the highest reaches of the U.S. government who have led on LGBT rights. And don’t forget that the closet doors in basketball and football were flung open by black men.

Still, a lot of black folks chafe at the comparison of the two communities’ shared struggle for civil rights. Nevermind that what links the two struggles is the quest for equality, dignity and equal protection under the law. Gay rights are civil rights. It’s that simple. Still, Davis asks a valid question of the LGBT community: where are you?

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