Turn the music up. Turn the lights down. I’m in my zone. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. 8 shots. Maybe 9 shots. The police still don’t know how many shots the white man fired. Thank God for granting me this moment of clarity. This moment of honesty. The world will feel my truths. From my Blueprint beginnings. To that Black Album ending. Listen close, you’ll hear what I’m about. But a 17-year-old young black man has been shot and he ain’t gonna make it much longer, so I’ll write fast.
His clique. His crew. An Iverson invention. Love for his crew. Like Drake got for the Weeknd. Love for his clique. Like Kanye got for Jay and Big Sean. Four of them sit inside a red SUV, Jordan Davis in the back seat. Jacksonville, Florida. Friday night. The hand on the clock is somewhere between seven and eight. The bullets that are fired are somewhere between eight and nine. The red SUV gets riddled with bullets, but Jordan’s the only one hit. Two shots make contact, but still breathing. Barely. Trying to hold on. DAMN! He’s only 17. The music still makes the car bump, but the bullets muffle the mind to the point that the lights get turned down. Hov. Ricky Rozay. Wayne. Nasir Jones. Drake. Meek Mill. Wiz. Kanye. Maybe even Chief Keef. Blasts out the speakers, like every other car full of teenagers that ride around America that night. The red SUV is the only one that takes bullets for the music, though. Or was it really the loud music that caused the bullets to lose their life too?
He doesn’t make it. He doesn’t take another breath. He doesn’t get to finish high school. He doesn’t get to go to his prom. He doesn’t get to experience his first day on a college campus. He doesn’t get to marry the love of his life. He doesn’t get to have children. He doesn’t get to grow old. He doesn’t get to die in peace. Stereotypes of a black male, truly understood. Sorry Biggie, this time it ain’t all good. Jordan Davis died when he got to the hospital. He was just 17. Shot by a man who didn’t like his loud music and who said that someone in Jordan’s SUV pointed a gun at him, so he felt “threatened.” No gun was ever found, except for the one that took Jordan’s life.
When I was 17, I listened to a lot of loud rap music. I grew up in the suburbs of New York City, only 40 miles away from where realities were being spit on cassette tapes by young, black men who didn’t think they would make it past 21. 17 years later, unfortunately this is still the reality. The lyrics might have changed, but the beat still bangs hard. From Jacksonville to Brownsville to the ville in Chicago, 21 is still that hopeful age. Mothers stay awake at night, praying their sons make it home from that friend’s birthday party. Fathers sit by the phone hoping that their sons call if they ever find trouble. And other 17 year olds attend way too many funerals of other 17 year olds. However, the beat that still bangs hard gives us a moment of clarity. A moment of honesty. Another moment to feel our truths.
Truth be told, when Trayvon Martin died, we knew it would happen again. We rallied. We marched. We protested. We signed petitions. We put our hoodies up. But in the back of our minds we knew that it would happen again. There is no comparison between the deaths of any seventeen year old, as every life is sacred and the families deserve to have their own periods of mourning. So don’t confuse this with thinking that I am comparing the two, but something is happening in this country that has to come to an end. We don’t want the fear that some have of young black men to be a disease our country cannot cure.
We must fight everyday to build a more compassionate America. A more generous America. A more tolerant America. This is the make-up of our generation’s DNA, the bloodline of our future. We know that this vision of a new America will not be accomplished quickly, so we must continue to make the beat bang. Slavery did not end without many lives lost. A woman’s right to vote did not come easily. The Civil Rights movement lasted over two decades. The gay rights movement finally has caught some traction. So, if we are to believe that our country can be that beacon of hope, then we must continue our journey towards justice. And not be afraid to turn. the. music. up!
RIP Jordan Davis. Our prayers are with your family and friends.
Michael Skolnik is the Editor-In-Chief of GlobalGrind.com and the political director to Russell Simmons. Prior to this, Michael was an award-winning filmmaker. Follow him on twitter @MichaelSkolnik