With the cover of the Constitution for all Americans, whose pursuit of happiness matters most in cases such as the Michael Dunn trial?
I have to admit: I haven’t followed social media or the overall buzz around the Michael Dunn Trial in Florida quite like I did the George Zimmerman trial in 2013. Perhaps it is because I refuse to deal with the cantankerous and ridiculously-slanderous comments that get thrown around in the anonymity of Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps I simply do not want to set myself up for more heartbreak if another man gets the opportunity to assault young Black men without consequence. Perhaps, as a proud father of 3 Black males, I cannot get caught up in the emotional aspect of feeling that pain once again. Perhaps, simply, I don’t want to live through that first-hand and “in the moment” during Black History Month, especially as things seem to be getting worse in Black America.
During the Zimmerman trial, the talk on one side of the issue was all about the 2nd Amendment, self-defense, and guarantees to one’s liberty and the “pursuit of happiness” highlighted in the founding documents of the United States of America. However, for all of the political rhetoric that was directed at a social and family tragedy, a sore point of mine – and many others in America – continues to be overlooked.
What about the “pursuit of happiness” for these victims, particularly victims that happen to be Black, young, male, and wrongfully stereotyped?
From the ongoing trial surrounding the death of Jordan Davis in Florida to the upcoming trial concerning the beating of honors student Jordan Miles here in Pittsburgh and the testicle-crushing beating of Darrin Manning in Philadelphia, the notion of “pursuit of happiness” continues down the “separate, divided, and unequal” path of justice, life opportunities, and expectations for the American Dream. The continued condoning of the mistreatment of Black men – particularly Black youths – in the face of on-going reminders of challenges within Black America as some sort of justification for the inhumanity that appears to grow is frightening.
The God-given right to pursue happiness as extolled in the Declaration of Independence and protected in codification via the United States Constitution in its present form should not and must not be shifted around in a shell-game manner only to be enjoyed by pre-selected winners and losers in America. For all of the rhetoric that has been going on from many parts of the politically-savvy and politically-engaged parts of the nation over the past few years, the adherent support of constitutional rights and personal liberties for some Americans never seems to reverberate in tone or deed to the communities of citizens in most need of basic civil rights protections. Lost in the newly-vamped definitions of social justice and racial perspective is the notion of innocent until proven guilty while Black. In scary contrast, the right to bear arms, assault children first and ask questions later is held tantamount to the freedom of speech and the right to vote by many in modern-day America.
When unarmed police officers can beat Black boys without fear of retribution and armed White citizens can shoot first and questions later, America regresses. When White men can assault and kill Black young men with the benefit of the doubt while Black men are presumed dangerous and guilty upon first contact, there is no longer a pursuit of true happiness, balance, or civic justice nationally. The foundation of equality and constitutional ethics becomes nothing but a slab of faulty lies and poetic hubris. The words quoted throughout social media and spoken by some in civic meetings that miss this American inconsistency sing a hymn of flat notes to an echo-chamber choir. Those preaching the pursuit of happiness for American citizens and the merit of the Constitution while ignoring the corroding practice of criminalizing all Black men – hiding behind the wicked guise of propping up statistics and hollow analysis to castigate millions with one broad stroke – simply love the separation and weakness of America, not the richness of these United States. These folks are traitors to this nation for attacking our fellow citizens and wishing to strip them of their constitutionally-protected rights via their domestically-treasonous ways. They stifle the pursuit of happiness for these youths and they bastardize the definition of civic happiness for us all.
Perhaps I’m too much of a patriot to continue to watch that as more Americans buy into that silly notion of civic hypocrisy. Perhaps I’m too much of a father to watch another Black teen son have his reputation dragged through the mud posthumously while an arrogant grown man attempts to justify a deadly error in judgment. Perhaps I’m simply too different of a conservative to ignore the political and rhetorical inconsistencies between the call for constitutionality today and the recent void of defending African-Americans in the face of clear (and growing) legal dualities in America. Perhaps, simply, I get that it is becoming rapidly harder for many to grasp the “pursuit of happiness” in America if they find themselves on the wrong side of perceptions in this increasingly-divided America – especially as we continue to pick winners-and-losers based on newly-enforced stereotypes and destructive social notions.
Lenny McAllister is a political analyst and commentator featured on various local, national and international outlets including Al Jazeera America, CNN, the American Urban Radio Network, and Sun News Network. The Pittsburgh-based pundit appears on “4802: Final Friday” on WQED and hosts “NightTalk: Get to the Point” on the Pittsburgh Cable News Channel. He is the former host of Launching Chicago With Lenny McAllister on WVON The Talk of Chicago 1690 AM. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.