A Witness Against Fear: Remembering Jordan Davis and Renisha McBride
Over the past months, I have been haunted by thoughts of Jordan Davis and Renisha McBride.
Their names come to me, disturbing sleep and dinner. Their faces stop me cold in the middle of my thoughts.
Killed in November 2012, Jordan Davis called metro Atlanta and Jacksonville (Florida) home, and since I have deep, personal history with both these places, I wonder if that is why. I wonder if I ever saw Jordan; I wonder if we ever crossed paths. We probably listened to some of the same music.
Renisha McBride was killed last month in the suburbs of Detroit, following a car accident.
Jordan and Renisha were both shot by men who said they were afraid.
I would like to believe that these were isolated incidents, that they have nothing to do with each other or the death of Trayvon Martin, but I can’t believe that. No matter the differences in their stories and circumstances – no matter whether they were model teenagers (if there is such a thing) at the time of their death, or as rebellious and defiant as most of us in our teenage years – I can’t believe that these events are isolated.
This is a fear that I was warned about early in life. This knowledge was important for my survival, as for millions of children. Some people might find it strange that a child could grasp this concept: when someone more powerful than you in our society is afraid, that fear reduces the value of your life. This culture does not seem to understand that the value of one’s life is given by God.
We can change that fear.
This August, at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, I traveled to our nation’s capital with five young African-American social change-makers. Together we participated in the Living Legacies tour organized by the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference. One of those outstanding young adults was Nicole Newman, a community organizer in D.C.
Nicole offers this poem for the memory of Renisha McBride. Among other things, it is a call to resilience and a witness against fear.