Source: AP, The Florida Times-Union, Bob Mack
Michael Dunn smiles at his parents during a break in his trial in Jacksonville, Fla. Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. Dunn was found guilty of attempted second-degree murder in the shooting death of Jordan Davis in November 2012, but the jury was unable to reach a decision on the charge of murder.

Celebrating Killers: Yes, Natives Should Care About a Dead Black Teen

Gyasi Ross

The original inhabitants of Turtle Island are not an island. As much as we might want to pretend otherwise, we are not the remote tribes in the Amazon. No, Natives of the United States are increasingly American with all of the benefits and burdens of Americans that affect us like everyone else.

Cable TV. Internet. Materialism. Pop music. Miley Cyrus. Gangnam Style.

Racism. White supremacy.

Sure, we all know that Black lives don’t mean anything to America. That’s been proven for centuries—Emmett Till, James Craig Anderson, James Byrd, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis—these are just a tiny fraction of the victims. But here’s a news bulletin: Native American lives mean absolutely nothing to America. Just like Black lives. Just like Mexican lives.

We’re not special. At all. As Martin Luther King Jr. properly recognized, the first instances of white supremacy were not against Black folks on this continent, but instead against Natives:

"Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shore, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Almost two years ago, I wrote about why Native people should be concerned about the senseless killing of Trayvon Martin. We should be concerned any time a person of color is killed simply because of the color of their skin. That’s what happened to our ancestors, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said—because we were (and are) seen as an "inferior race." I know there are many of our people who have accepted the lie/legal fiction that the Native people of this continent are not a race, but a political group. However, there are many Natives who are still racially Native with brown skin and dark features and who are very ripe to be, like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, the victims of white supremacy.

Native Mothers and Fathers: your brown skin little Indian boys’ lives are in danger. Teach them that their beautiful brown skin and powerful long, dark hair puts them in danger. Tell your beautiful brown little Indian girls that they’re a target to be sexually assaulted just for being them—it’s a fact. Let them know that their attackers—both the boys and girls—will never be punished. In fact, they will be celebrated. Hold those powerful descendants of the first people of this continent close. Tell them that you love them. Every single time they go outside or to the store or to the mall, there is a possibility that they can be tried, convicted and executed of being too brown, too scary, too virile. "Their hair is too long." "They have too many tattoos." Treasure their time—their lives mean nothing to America. In fact IF, God forbid, they were to be tragically killed, there are many who would celebrate that death.

Little Indian boys like thug music, too. Like Jordan Davis. Little Indian boys wear hoodies, too. Like Trayvon Martin.


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Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
White America has a way of carrying on its racial prejudice. They no longer use the N-word, but have taken to using "thug" to mean non-White. If you're not White, rich and employed you're a thug to them. Personally, I believe that White, scared, middle-aged men with guns are the only thugs my son has to worry about. When and how will this end?

sweetgrass777's picture
Submitted by sweetgrass777 on
Good and interesting article. To be honest there have been many incidents where Native men and woman have been targeted and have been the victims of racism and racist attacks in California, Arizona and South Dakota. Several have been posted here on this site as a matter of fact. Some of these people where beaten and called the "N" Word. So dosen't make much of a difference does it. How you look, Brown, Red, Yellow or Black. You are a person of color. The question is can we self identify with the struggle that we all face in this nation and our common suffering. After being here 500 years with black folk and absorbing some of their blood, cultural habits and them ours we can expect anything. Culturally, socially and sometimes psychologically we have no choice but to relate. I notice that on here when any story about a racist attack on Natives are mentioned no one hardly comments!!!??? Like there is an embarrassment about it. Where are the voices of the people who where once warriors who took down their enemies when they killed, raped and murdered or women, children and men??? This is what I ask myself. Have we become cowards or just remnants of the brave people we used to be??? Seems so. When I recalled the "N" word also pertained to Native people. Custer thought so. May he NOT rest in peace in his sorry ass grave. Food for thought. Here is a lecture given by Dr. Umar Johnson. Take a few minutes of your time to listen to it. You don't have to agree with every thing he says but he sure gives a whole lot of insight about certain things and the systematic destruction of a people. We could learn alot!

Zucchero's picture
Submitted by Zucchero on
Great article, very sad. It seems so bizarre that in this land where so many go to tanning salons, have their lips injected with silicone, get their hair chemically modified and get surgery so they can acquire similar features to of people of color, the very people that they fear and hate enough to kill. This is just sickness. At least the new NYC Mayor put an end to the "stop and frisk" rule so young men of color won't have to freeze and get a patdown FOR NO REASON except that they are feared because of the color of their skin. I fear that these shootings will become more commonplace if people don't speak up, I hope it isn't too late. Thank you for not keeping quiet!