Colloquium: William Cheng
|When||April 13, 2018 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM |
|Where||Fulton Hall |
|Contact Information||Music Department |
|Description||Will Cheng, Assistant Professor at Dartmouth presents "His Music Was Not a Weapon": Black Noise, Breakable Skin, and the Plundered Voice of Jordan Russell Davis. |
On 23 November 2012, at a gas station in Jacksonville, FL, a 47-year-old white man named Michael Dunn fired ten bullets and killed 17-year-old unarmed black teen Jordan Davis . . . in an apparent dispute over Davis’s loud rap music. “I hate that thug music,” Dunn had complained to his fiancée minutes earlier. Dunn later claimed to have seen Davis brandishing a shotgun, or merely its barrel, or a pipe, or some dark object. Police never found any such weapon. So maybe Dunn lied. Or maybe that dark object was just Davis’s black body, a living weapon in the eyes of a racist.
Media ended up dubbing People v. Michael Dunn the Loud Music Trial. Yet this perplexed the public. Murder? Instigated by music?
Make no mistake: Jordan Davis’s rap music was a weapon. It’s just that Davis wasn’t the one wielding it. On the contrary, my lecture shows how Davis’s rap music became posthumously weaponized at the hands of Dunn’s defense lawyer, Cory Strolla, in efforts to exonerate his client on the basis of self-defense (and, nominally, Stand Your Ground). By emphasizing the sheer volume and cacophony of Davis’s music, Strolla detonated a sonic smokescreen in the courtroom, attempting to cast reasonable doubt over every word testified by Davis’s friends, who had witnessed the shooting at point-blank range. “But if the music was so loud, how can you be sure Jordan didn’t threaten to kill my client?” Strolla kept asking these boys. By investigating full court proceedings as well as copious materials that weren’t entered into formal evidence (Dunn’s handwritten letters, Dunn’s jailhouse calls, Strolla’s press statements), this lecture further demonstrates how People v. Michael Dunn—like numerous tragedies involving extrajudicial shootings of unarmed black individuals in the United States—implicitly subpoenaed blackness to stand on trial. By conflating blackness with bruteness, Dunn and Strolla worked to enchain black music, to discredit black testimonies, and to weaponize a deceased black body in service of white supremacist violence.
|Categories||Conferences/Lectures, Lectures, Seminars, Workshops, Arts, Staff, Graduate Students |
|Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this event should contact the event sponsor for assistance. |
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