[NOTE: I got two posts today from contributors, Terence and Danielle, on this key and troubling story. I am posting both over next 12 hours. Please add your comments.]
“Come on boy; you know the routine. Assume the position.”
Yes, unfortunately in these here United States of America, my skin is my sin. The luck of possessing a hue associated with Africa and the ownership of a Y chromosome carries a heavy burden. The burden was front and center this week within the story of Bonnie Sweeten of Feasterville, Pennsylvania . Ms. Sweeten made a frantic phone call to 911 from Philadelphia, on May 26th from the trunk of a car where she told authorities that she and her 9 year old daughter were, after being rear ended earlier. She went on to say that after the accident, after exiting her SUV, she and her daughter were then kidnapped. The story caught national attention from NBC to Fox news. The police, the amber alert system, and the FBI all pulled their efforts together to save them damsels in distress from the “evil doorers” ( photo credit: JLaw45 ).
You might ask yourself, who would commit such a disreputable deed? Well it was “two Black men” of course! And of course they were driving, of all cars, “a Cadillac.”
Well today, we found out it was all a disgusting hoax. In fact, the two were bound for Disney World. After taking out thousands of dollars from her family account and buying two tickets to Florida, mother, with her child, were later spotted boarding a plane in Tampa which led the local police to their hideout with Mickey at the Grand Floridian Hotel in Orlando. On Thursday, May 28th, the Today Show discussed the issue of Michelle Henry; District Attorney for Bucks County Pennsylvania, who was asked by the newscaster whether this was a case of racial profiling. Ms. Henry avoided the question raised .
My frustration observed in writing this entry is not without merit. For this country has a long history of feeding a stereotype of Black males as dangerous, oversexed, with out a moral compass [See the book, The Assassination of the Black Male Image by Earl Ofari Hutchinson]. Where again you might ask?
Examples can be traced from the stereotypical, controversial, and influential 1915 film, Birth of a Nation,
March 25, 1931, Alabama with the death of what the media called the Scottsboro Boys.
October 24, 1989, Boston—Pregnant Carol DiMaiti Stewart, 30 years old died, from a gun shot to the head. Her husband, Charles, 29 years old reported to police that a Black man claiming to be an undercover policeman pulled their vehicle over and shot he and his wife; killing his wife and later after two weeks of survival, their eight week premature unborn child. Later the police discovered that the husband actually killed his wife and unborn child.
October 24, 1994, Union, South Carolina—In order to win the affection of a man with whom she had been having an affair, Susan Smith placed her three year and 14 month old children into the safety devises in her car and rolled the car into John D. Long Lake. She claimed to the police that she and her children were carjacked by a Black man. During the nine days before she had confessed her merciless crime, a number of Black males were harassed and seen as possible perpetrators in the crime.
July 11, 2007, Tituville, Florida—Bob Allen, a Senior Republican, and former co-chairman of the campaign of Senator John McCain arrested for attempting to solicit oral sex for 20 dollars from an undercover police officer in a men’s toilets facility. Mr. Allen has a long record of being a proponent of ant-gay legislation in Florida. When arrested, he attempted to avoid prosecution by declaring that the undercover police officer, who happened to be a large black man, intimidated him and Allen felt he had to do whatever it took to survive.
Within the 21st century there is an effort to still demonize the Black male and depict them as a threat to society. Black males have been historically and presently seen as a sexual, physical, and emotional threat to Whites. Some Blacks and other people of color have also helped to feed the stereotype. It is time for us all to bash this image when it is presented.