Day of Blogging for Justice: Protecting Black Women and their Families from Rape
Big Creek, West Virginia and West Palm Beach, Florida provide two disturbing cases of rape perpetrated against two African-American females. To compare and contrast the two stories shows just how much work is needed to keep black women and their families safe from the horror inflicted by sexual abuse.
The realities of sexual abuse are uncomfortable to deal with, making it easy to look the other way rather than stare its evil in the face. This post contains graphic details, but please read the full accounts as not to minimize the pain inflicted into the lives of these survivors.
W. Virginia Case
There has been a lot written on this site pertaining to the torture and rape case of Megan Williams in West Virginia. Williams was held captive in a storage shed for a week while six white suspects, -including a mother and son and a mother and daughter- physically and sexually abused her.
Ms. Williams' Final Call Interview, Initial Reports of the incident, and Follow-Up Stories were detailed at length. Besides having to eat human and animal excrement, she was reportedly sodomized, raped, and forced to have oral sex with one of her female captors.
W. Palm Beach (Dunbar Village)
The details of this story have not been given here so I will expand on the reported events. Thanks to the AfroSpear News Wire for the report.
Four black males — ages 14, 15, 16 and 18 — have been charged as adults in a 14-count indictment that could send all of them to prison for life. Hoping to steal money and jewelry, Avion Lawson, 14, said he and someone else wore masks when they entered the 35-year-old woman's apartment that night, according to the documents.
Once inside, Lawson said, he and his accomplice, whose name is blacked out on the report, encountered the woman in bed with three other masked males around her. Lawson told police he sexually assaulted her and stole two video games and a truck.
Earlier, the victim had returned home from her job delivering phone books at about 9 p.m. on the night of the attack, according to her statement to police. While fixing her son something to eat, a young male with braids knocked on her door to tell her the tires on her truck were flat. Once outside, she said, she saw a male with a large gun and two others armed with guns. They wore black clothing over their faces, she said, and ordered her back into the apartment, where they demanded money.
After being told there was no money, the attackers tore off the woman's clothes and raped her until five others arrived, according to the documents. The new arrivals took turns having sex with her and then sodomized her.
The mother was then ordered into a tub filled with vinegar and water where they used hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, nail polish remover and ammonia on her. At gunpoint, the assailants forced the mother and son to have sex.
Throughout the attack, the victims suffered beatings, including having a bowl and light bulbs smashed over their heads. The encounter was recorded on a cell phone camera, according to the mother.
Before leaving, the males looked for a lighter to set the two on fire but couldn't find one, she told police. They ordered the pair to stay in the tub and took off. About 30 minutes later one of the males returned to sexually assault the mother one last time. Before leaving, he scribbled a man's name and 6-CO, a gang, on a piece of paper and told the woman he hangs out on Sixth Street and that's where he could be found. He grabbed a Sony PlayStation 2 before fleeing.
No one wants to hear it but this country was founded on the principle that black women's bodies were at the pleasure and will of white slave masters and black baby producers. Slave owners had their choice and way with any black female on the plantation, regardless of age.
It's no better that black men were made to bed down with whomever the owners thought would be best for business. The relationship between black men and black women was seen as a breeding arrangement. So whether it was white men or black, there was little choice for black women, their bodies were not their own.
According to a paper by Amy Karen Phillips, "Prior to the war, rape of black women had played an essential role in maintaining slavery: emasculating black men, empowering white men, and assuring a constant supply of slave children. Post-war, little attention was paid to black rape victims…"
White women were not sympathetic to the plight of the unwilling female slaves. They blamed black women for a perceived desire to sleep with their creeping, raping husbands. The legacy of these relationships continue to persist today.
The Fallout and Coverage
So with Megan Williams case there has been very little coverage by the popular media, though bloggers and other entities have not let the story die. Black Lawyers for Justice has planned a march this Saturday in Charleston, W. Virgina. The purpose of the march is '"To bring national and statewide support to Charleston resident Megan Williams, the Williams Family and victims of other hate crimes nationwide."
And so it is. But the question that many folks have asked for months now is "What about Dunbar Village?"
There has been hardly any coverage, any mention of the Dunbar Village case in any circle. Ask most ministers and leaders about it and many would have no idea of the frightful events that were carried out against a mother and her son.
It's as if we as black folks are taking on the ways of those who have sought to oppress our ancestors. They used African-Americans as scape goats to divert attention from their wicked, immoral, corrupt ways (think Bob and Mayella Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird). I would shutter to think that we are falling victim to that very mentality, turning a blind eye to violence perpetrated against our sisters by brothers while searching for the next "hate crime."
Black women are still seen in many circles as playing a role in the abuse that is inflicted on them. In the Meagan Williams case, some have tried to minimize the actions of her six attackers because she supposedly had a relationship with one of them. Reports have all but said that she "brought it on herself" or "should have known better."
The same is true in the case of a 20 year-old Philadelphia prostitute who accused one of her customers and his friends of raping her. Judge Teresa Carr Deni who presided over the case saw it as a theft of service. "She consented and she didn't get paid," Deni told the Philadelphia Daily News. "I thought it was a robbery."
The reality is black men have got to take responsibility for ensuring that black women receive both respect and protection in an environment that has scantly offered it to them. Black men no longer have to sit by and watch white racists defile our women, nor do we have to participate in the practice. We should be part of the solution, not the problem.
The tendency in this country to blame African-American women for the sexual crimes committed against them must stop. Stereotypes regarding heightened sexuality should be squashed out, even through mindless music videos attempt to skew the truth.
When we tolerate the music, tolerate the language, and tolerate the silences, we have in essence said that the degradation of our Black Women is acceptable. For the sake of our women, our girls, our families, and our future, we have to draw a line in the sand. It has to end now.