Murder of Jordan Davis Reflects Racist Culture

By Gary Younge, The Nation - February 20, 2014

There is a moment in the film 12 Years a Slave when Solomon Northup understands the depth of the trouble he is in. Lying shackled in a pen after having been drugged, kidnapped and sold to slave traders, he wakes up to protest to his captors that he is a free man. They demand to see his free papers. Just a few days earlier, he had thought carrying such papers unnecessary, even in a slave state. “I thought at the time, I must confess, that the papers were scarcely worth the cost of obtaining them,” he wrote in his memoir. “The apprehension of danger to my personal safety never having suggested itself to me in the remotest manner.” Only after he finds himself without them does he discover their—and therefore his—true worth. For in the absence of that proof, his value as a human being plummets to zero, and he is destined to live as chattel for more than a decade, until he can prove otherwise.

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