Monday, October 27, 2008

white woman cries "black man wolf" -- Ashley Todd & the racist victimization/demonization of black men

Very recently, Ashley Todd, a 20 year old white woman, falsely accused a black man of carving a "B" into her face -- the "B" is for "Barack Obama" -- and raping her because she had a McCain sticker on the bumper of her car.

"When men rape women of other races and ethnicities, it is more often a white perpetrator raping a woman of color..."

But these facts are not the beginning and end of the story linked to and implied by Ashley Todd's false, racist-sexist accusations against a fictitious black man -- and in a sense, all U.S. American black men.

I will update/complete this blog post in the next few days.

For now, read excellent analysis/blog commentary on the Todd incident here.

Todd did not miss a beat in invoking racist characterizations of white women as victims, black men and black people as victimizers -- she got it all in there -- the racist characterization of black communities as "bad neighborhoods" and the racist-sexist stereotype of the black male rapist -- a racist-sexist stereotype that acquired ubiquitous (or nationwide) power -- not coincidentally --  in the aftermath of slavery's abolition and survives into the present day. 

The racist-sexist stereotype of black men as rapists, drug dealers, drug users and all around model criminals encourages and justifies individual acts of racism -- such as a white woman grabbing her purse when a black man passes her on the street -- or enters an elevator :) Racist-sexist stereotypes of black men, black women, Latinos and Latinas also encourages and justifies the high number of police cars overseeing black and Latino/a neighborhoods -- no matter what the dominant income status of the community (I don't mean to imply that class status should make exempt a person of color from being targeted for racism. It is important, however, that a black and Latino/a person's economic status does not diminish their experience of racism in this instance). The fact that 73% of all drug users are white, and most drug dealers are white, and that white people are 4 times more likely to be physically assaulted by another white person than they are a person of color, and that white men & white boys are responsible for committing most violent crimes in the U.S.  -- the fact that most acts of sexual and gender violence against white women and girls are committed by white men and white boys  that they know *does not* change the fact that most white women and white girls fear sexual/gender violence from black men and teenaged black males. 

Most rapes, in fact, are committed by people (typically men) who belong to the same racial group as the rape victim/survivor. The Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center observes that "when men rape women of other races and ethnicities, it is more often a white perpetrator raping a woman of color...."

(If you're a white woman reading this blog entry -- before you ask me for "proof" of white women's racist fantasies about black men -- ask yourself -- and give an honest answer -- who do you imagine will rape you or rob you? What is the race and gender of the person the person that you fear will rape you or rob you?) 

None of these facts changes the racist behavior of the vast majority of law enforcement officials, the racist, over-representation of blacks as the agents of violence in the media, or many white people's  (individual) racist belief that blacks are pre-disposed to criminality. 

Cops don't step up their patrolling of suburbs -- the assumed bastions of peace and tranquility -- because no girl or boy has every been beaten by their alcoholic/drug abusing parents in the suburbs, or beaten by a classmate, or sexually molested in the suburbs, or raped by a gang of white boys in the suburbs... that's never happened -- because the suburbs are safe.

Of course domestic, sexual and physical violence happens in the suburbs -- most suburban violence occurs inside the home not in the street where police can see it (if they were even there to see it in the first place) or a neighbor could witness it to alert the media. Social workers don't visit the homes of solidly middle and upper class parents -- they don't remove the children from upper and middle class homes. However, the homes of poor and working-class people -- mostly black and Latino/a homes but many poor & working-class white homes as well -- these homes, these parents, these children are subject to intense state scrutiny, which is why most of the children in foster care are black, the 2nd largest number are Latino and a minority of of foster children are white -- the vast majority of all of them removed from poor and working-class homes. Again, I'm not saying that poor and working-class children should not be removed from abusive/violent homes -- I am saying that state supervision should be equitable. What the state does to/for poor and working-class youth it should also do to/for middle and upper class youth. Right now, what exists is a foster care system that engages in blatantly classist and racist practices -- another example of institutionalized classism and racism -- that is tolerated by middle and upper class people -- because middle and upper class people believe both consciously and unconsciously that poor and working-class people deserve that kind of treatment -- because "they" are not as well-behaved, hard working and moral as middle and upper class people.

I digress.

Police don't patrol 4 year colleges and universities -- institutions -- communities -- that enroll predominantly white middle class students who frequently drink underage, and drink excessively -- a drinking rate that are linked to the highest instances of acquaintance rape. College aged white men drink more than any other racial/age group. College aged women are, in fact, more susceptible to sexual violence than any other age group. In fact, white men drink and drug more frequently than white women and women and men of color. And lets not forget college aged students' drug use -- no police officer is present to observe the bong hits of a white middle class college student. 

(For more statistic-based information on the relationship between racism, sexism, prison and drug laws go here.)

There is no increase in the arrests of white men and women who use drugs and deal drugs. There is no increase in police shootings of white men (I am not saying there should be) but unarmed black and Latino men are gunned down time and time again because police officers -- most of them white -- believe that these men had guns when, in fact, they did not. Tim Wise raised the same point in 2001 when he cited a "Washington University in St. Louis found that the mere presence of dark skin increases the probability that an object... will be misperceived as a weapon." 

Not once, in U.S. history -- recent or past -- has a police officer been convicted and sent to prison for murdering an innocent black man, black women, Latino and Latina -- not once.

So, the conscious or unconscious racist belief that black and Latino men are dangerous -- excessively dangerous -- addicted to danger and violence even -- that racist belief makes police officers of all races -- but significantly, mostly white police officers -- far more likely to use excessive force on black man or Latino -- and black women, Latinos, and especially since 9/11, Arab-Americans, Arab immigrants and men and women perceived to be of Arab descent. Police officers are far more likely to beat members of the aforementioned groups to death and/or murder them because of racist stereotypes.

That is real. 

And the experience of inequality and violence in the context of law enforcement is a major, defining difference between those who have white skin privilege and those who do not have white skin privilege.

(Here are some video recorded words from the Wise on white privilege and the historical creation of whiteness. He also discusses how a white person can "challenge whiteness" or resist at least some of the unearned benefits they receive because they are white, and thus, resist complicity in the racist oppression of people of color as a white ally in the struggle against racism.)

White men and women are not arrested, imprisoned or beaten as frequently as black men, black women, Latinos and Latinas and murdered by police as frequently** as black men and Latinos because the stereotype of a violent criminal/drug user/drug dealer does not fit their image -- straight, white Protestant men are model citizens -- model "Americans" -- and middle & upper class heterosexual Protestant white women are the symbol of all that is feminine, pure, moral and safe -- unless, of course, that straight Protestant middle or upper class white woman finds feminism -- then she's a man-hating "bitch" or has more power than most white heterosexual men then she's a dyke like Hillary Clinton.

So, Ashley Todd's false rape accusation and false accusation of physical assault should not be dismissed as the raving of a "mad" woman (Todd says that she carved her own face and accused a black man of that crime and a rape crime because she suffers from a mental illness), or an "isolated incident" -- because there is a long history of white women accusing black men of rape and physical assault in the U.S. -- and a long history of white people believing these false accusations, which led far too many whites to terrorize entire black communities in the form of genocide -- that is, all out vigilante/illegal murders of black children, women and men, lynchings, organized rape campaigns and racial profiling in response to these false accusations -- and white people could torture, murder and rape black men, women, and children with impunity -- without concern of legal consequences. Until the 1960s, almost all white judges refused to convict and imprison white men arrested for lynching and raping (etc.,) black men, women and children.

**Re: racist police murders -- I use the term "frequently" because I do not know of any instances since the 1980s where a white man or white woman was wrongfully murdered by police officers -- if you know of any instances where this occurred, please share them.

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