Trigger warning: sexual violence and abuse
I’m pissed [p.s. I’m not sorry for the language, Grammy].
Facebook has been flooded today with mug shots of four Chicago teens who have been charged with a Hate Crime after live-streaming abuse of a disabled man.
As an advocate for peace, it should go without saying that I do not condone the use of violence against any person, place or thing. With that said, I’m also an advocate for racial justice so I can’t help but be pissed at how mainstream media and society is responding to this particular incident.
Folks are outraged.
They’re pissed too, as they should be.
But as a friend on Facebook said, “Where were y’all two weeks ago?”
This person is referring to a case in Idaho where a high school football player sexually assaulted a teenage victim, with intellectual disabilities, using a coat hanger, while others participated and watched.
Haven’t heard of this case?
I’m not surprised. It didn’t receive widespread media attention, in comparison to the Chicago incident.
My guess is because scenario one involved Black perpetrators and a White victim while scenario two involved a White perpetrator and a Black victim.
Yes, I’m making this about race.
I hope that is LOUD and CLEAR because it has EVERYTHING to do with race.
Of course, it’s also about toxic masculinity and our lack of value towards people with disabilities but the lack of media coverage and offender accountability for scenario two (perpetrator who is a White male), as well as the widespread backlash to scenario one (Perpetrators who are Black), is ALL about race, in my professional Social Justice Warrior opinion.
I’m not the only one pissed.
The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence released a statement in response to scenario two (perpetrator who is a White male) saying:
“Accountability is part of love. We ask everyone to lead with love and faith in community in any responses to this case. Violent statements against anyone are not acceptable, and perpetuate our culture of domination, extraction, and violence.”
It’s believed that the perpetrator in scenario two (White male) will serve two to three years of probation (yes, I said PRO-BA-TION) and will not have to register as a sex offender. This means his conviction could be dismissed upon successful completion of the terms of his probation.
The perpetrators in scenario one (Black teens) have been charged with a hate crime, felony aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, residential burglary and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
I doubt probation will be on the table.
I’m not saying it should be because I don’t think it should. Just like it shouldn’t have been an option for the White male who too committed a heinous crime.
As I wrote on my personal Facebook, “This is not tit for tat.”
I’m not here to compare which case was “worse,” or justify violence against any human– let alone an individual who is more susceptible to violence because of their disability- in order to “make a point” or further my “racial movement.”
Rather, I’m asking folks to step back and take a “balcony view,” to recognize how institutional, structural and internalized racism is impacting how we are responding to these incidents.
It’s no coincidence that the perpetrator, who is White, will receive probation.
It’s no coincidence that people are responding the way they are to the Black teens and that they likely will be punished to the full extent of the law.
As a Black woman in AmeriKKKa, I’m used to White people being racist whether it’s “intentional” or not.
However, I never have, nor ever will, become used to Black folks internalizing racism.
I’m talking about the Black folks who shared the mug shots of the four Black Chicago teens saying things like, “This is why White people [inert comment driven by internalized racism of your choice].”
Do you recognize you’re throwing your Brothers and Sisters under the bus to demonstrate that you’re one of the “good” Black folk?
Rather than simply stating, “I do not condone violence in this case or the Idaho case,” you’re essentially fueling the same racist system that keeps you oppressed by saying, “Yes, but I’m not one of them.”
Quick Sidebar: I’m not here to educate you on internalized racism. Instead, I’d encourage you to read a few of my favorite Everyday Feminism articles on the subject:
- 5 Signs That I’m Struggling With Internalized Racism by Maisha Z. Johnson
Put Out Internalized Racism: Why Solidarity Between People of Color Matters by Jarune Uwujaren
While I want to love on my Black friends for standing up against violence, I want to love on them even more because I’m sympathetic for their battle with internalized racism – a battle many don’t even realize they’re fighting!
While I want to love on my White friends for standing up against violence, I also want to hold them accountable for not using that same voice to call out the systematic racism we’re seeing in these two cases.
We can do better, people.
We have to do better, people.
I KNOW we can do better, people.
The first step to addressing all problems is acknowledging there is a problem.
I’d like to think that step two is getting comfortable with the discomfort that may come with engaging in dialogue around complex issues like race, ableism and other forms of oppression, as well as topics like white supremacy, patriarchy and privilege.
I guess the third step would be actually engaging in that dialogue.
And lastly, step four: taking action to eradicate systematic oppression and structural violence so that we all can be liberated, authentic human beings living in a world free from violence and hate.
A girl can dream, right?
No, a girl… actually, a human, can work!
And work, I will.
With that said, my “rant” is over.