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29 May 2009

Blame It on the Blacks (Or Browns)

In 1989, Tanya Dacri, a mother in Philadelphia, drowned her baby and then cut him into pieces and blamed three black men for the crime.

In Boston in 1989, a white man named Charles Stuart claimed a black man killed his pregnant wife. He had killed her himself. Yet for weeks afterwards, black men were rounded up, simply for being black, some forced to surrender DNA.

In 1994 a white woman named Susan Smith drowned her children, three year-old Michael Daniel Smith and four-month-old Alexander Tyler Smith by strapping them into their car-seats, setting her car to "drive" and sending it down a ramp into a lake.
She claimed a black man carjacked her at gunpoint and kidnapped her children. Every day, for nine days she lied. A black man victimized a white woman and her children. In South Carolina. In the American Southland. In Dixie. In the heart of the former slavocracy.

In May 2005, a white woman named Jennifer Milbanks ran away from her impending marriage. She claimed she was abducted by a Latino man (and a white woman).

In January of 2009, a white man named Clint Horvatt murdered his fiancée, shooting her to death in Putnam County FL. He claimed that an unidentified black man was the real killer.

There was also a election related episode in October, when a John McCain white female volunteer claimed a 6-foot-4 black man carved a "B" (for Barack) into her cheek. She had done it herself.

And this week (May 2009) a white woman in Philadelphia named Bonnie Sweeten called 911 claiming black men forced her into the trunk of their car after a fender-bender and stole her car with her daughter in it. She was caught on surveillance video withdrawing $12,000 (which she is now alleged to have stolen from a number of employers) and taking a plane with her daughter to Florida. She was at Disneyland.

The unspoken truth is that black (and brown) men are still "credible" threats.
And white people, particularly white women, are still credible victims.

In the Philadelphia case, the police had doubts early on. But they were concerned that one way or another, the little girl was in the hands of a criminal. But they didn't tell the public. The news media kept broadcasting the "black-men-did-it" news.
When the truth came out, very few news agencies held Ms. Sweeten accountable for the racialized accusation. Just the generic lie.

All of this in the week that America's first President of African descent nominated the first Latina candidate for the Supreme court.

Some of us still can't catch a cab.
Some of us are still pulled over for driving while black and brown.
Some of us are still followed around stores.
And our menfolk are still at risk, from the lies (some) white women tell.

Now, what the hell am I supposed to write in that gratitude journal?


  1. I am grateful that that the universe bends towards justice. (MLK adapted)

  2. "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." abolitionist Theodore Parker

  3. Thank you Diane. I remember it from Dr. King. Good to know where it originated.