Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Killing Them (Minorities) Softly

Gotta call attention to this post at Feministing, which is in turn calling attention to this op-ed from NYT columnist Bob Herbert. F-ing makes additional great points on top of Herbert's -- that point being that the murders of minorities, especially non-white children, is wildly unequal, with a number of murders having taken place in Chicago this year, around 36 children apparently, a grim statistic pretty much unremarked upon in comparison to school and university shootings in majority-white schools. Feministing's Samhita says
"I actually think that Herbert is giving them an easy way out suggesting that it is just that mainstream media frequently overlooks the deaths and murders of people of color. When people of color are involved in the death or murder of a white person, that is definitely headline news..."
while Herbert is suggesting that the stories that cover the murder of women of color, poor people and other disenfranchised communities, it is not just that they are overlooked, it is that they are strategically woven into the narrative of good verse evil. White women are pitted against communities of color, contrasting innocent verses guilty.

Go and read both, and ask yourself how much you heard about this case, where in West Virginia a black woman's kidnappers
"forced her to eat rat droppings, choked her with a cable cord and stabbed her in the leg while calling her a racial slur, according to criminal complaints. They also poured hot water over her, made her drink from a toilet, and beat and sexually assaulted her during a span of about a week, the documents say."
I myself didn't know anything about this, that it had even ever occurred, until I listened to an old Democracy Now! podcast. Hopefully, I was just intensely in dissertation mode and it really was big news, hopefully I was in a bubble and missed the huge national attention turned to this horrific incident, the public questioning of ourselves as a country and what could be done to prevent this, and the deaths in Chicago, and the deaths and injustices heaped on everyone of every color, no less against blacks or Latinos or Asians or gays and lesbians or transgender or anyone else than against white heterosexuals, because riddle me this -- can you imagine a white woman being kidnapped by six black people, tortured by them, called racial epithets, and raped, and her story not becoming a lasting national memory? Certainly, part of it would be its memorability as "man bites dog" (or "black supremacists attack whites"), that is, because it is a less familiar story, but doesn't the familiarity of black-on-white crime, its quasi-quotidian quality, disturb one in and of itself?....


Daktari said...

I actually heard about this because it happened not too far from where I was living at the time. They had kidnapped and held the girl(s)?? hostage for a while. While they may have done all those things, there was some hint of a "relationship" among one or more of the people involved and it seemed that there were parents and kids involved. Speaking from one who came from those people, all in all, you gotta keep an eye out for hillbillies. Stupid doesn't die easy.

Daktari said...

And in a comment that is sure to riase the neck hair on more than a few....let me add, consider for just a minute that the crime MIGHT have been ignored because it occurred in West Virginia. If it had happened in suburban Washington, DC...you know, one of those nice white Virginia or Maryland suburbs, the uproar would have been outrageous. But when it happens to or by a) poor people, b) poor white trash type people and c) people who associate with poor white trash--especially interracial associations with poor white trash (and the victim here knew her attackers--as is often the case in crime)--damned if it isn't easy to chalk up to stupid. And we don't care about stupid. We care about the myth of white virgin purity. We care about the blonde, blue-eyed white girls who are going to grow up and be senators' wives. We care about Miss America.

Hillbillies and black folks don't stand a chance. They just ain't photogenic enough. Or, in other words, maybe you didn't hear about this because it is as easy to ignore the violence perpetrated on and by crackers as it is to ignore black victims.