Death and taxes used to be the only two certainties in life—but no matter how much progress it feels like we’re making sometimes, the sad fact is you can probably slide racism into that list, too. Are we in a moment of uprising that feels like it has the potential to create real, systemic change? Yes. Do people and organizations still show their ass on a daily basis? Oh, most definitely. And to keep tabs on all that ass-showing, we’re pleased to present our semi-regular racism surveillance machine. Stay woke, and keep your head on a swivel out there.
There’s no greater assessment of whether a song bumps than the car test. But Florida residents may want to think twice before cranking the volume on Cardi B’s new single or blasting Drake’s dance music in the whip.
As reported by Bay News 9, Florida enacted a new statute yesterday that makes it “unlawful for anyone in a vehicle to turn up their radio too loud”—as in audio that can be heard from at least 25 feet away. If you fail to pass this nebulous test, you may be hit with a traffic infraction (or, perhaps, an even darker fate).
There’s a lot going on here (i.e. who does this benefit, exactly?), but it’s hard to imagine enforcement of this joyless law not being yet another excuse for racial profiling. After all, music that’s “too loud” never sounds like a White guy with a guitar.
For decades, the idea of blaring music has been tied to Black music, whether hip-hop or soul. On Kings of Comedy, Cedric the Entertainer joked that the only time Black folks turn down their tunes is while concentrating on a parallel park. Chris Tucker once famously cautioned against messing with a Black man’s radio. We’re serious about our shit. And yet, as with most things related to even casual racism, there’s an undercurrent of tragedy.
Just under a decade ago, 17-year-old Jordan Davis was shot and killed by 45-year-old software developer Michael David-Dunn in Memphis after they disputed the volume of Davis’ music. Last August, a disabled Black man named Alvin Motley Jr. was shot to death by security guard Gregory Livingston, the cause also being an argument over decibels.
Dunn was eventually convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, and Livingston has since been indicted for murder. Neither were members of law enforcement, yet they’re tethered to the idea of the danger of playing music “too loud” while Black.
All of this is to say, stay safe in the Sunshine State, since “Florida Law” often feels as perilous as “Florida Man” and dog-whistle legislation is targeting us from all angles.