Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Richmond rape case, and why race is relevant or irrelevant

Does this look pleasurable to you? Me neither.

Again I’ve put my best work on T & T, so go there for a summary of the Richmond Homecoming rape case that happened a week ago today. As of this writing, one man who was questioned has been released from custody (not enough chargeable evidence … yet), and five remain in custody with no or very high bail. The three underage suspects are being charged as adults.

The 15-year old victim is out of the hospital but I am sure not out of the woods. Seriously, will she ever be out of the woods, even with the very best of therapy?

When I first heard about this crime, I confess I thought exactly what the majority of people thought when they heard about the actual location of the crime. Richmond is a formerly nice town, especially when the military was still in the area. But with the de-militarization of the United States, something else moves in when the military moves out, and what moved in caused Richmond to become a hood.

Now before you jump all over me, “hood” does not mean an exclusively black or Hispanic neighborhood. There are plenty of areas that could and are described as “white trash,” and hood is just a more politically correct term in my eyes if that’s possible. The word “ghetto” evokes strong feelings toward one race, “barrio” toward another, and those ill-feelings toward the people who may live in those areas is entirely too destructive.

So knowing a little about what kind of people live in Richmond now, I figured this was going to be more black-on-black violence (like the epidemic in nearby Oakland) or Hispanic-on-Hispanic or white or black (like most of the Bay Area). Didn't matter to me, it was still disgusting that a female was taken advantage of yet again by uncivilized males.

Let me say that the black-on-black violence sickens me, but what sickens me more is the attitude of black opinion leaders who virtually ignore what happens in Oakland. Toss a white or Hispanic person into the mix (a la the Oakland cop massacre earlier this year) and you get Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson all over the place decrying how unfair everyone treated the black perp—it wasn’t his fault he was a felon, it was all about lack of opportunity, blah blah blah.

I feel the same about Hispanic-on-Hispanic gang violence. There’s outrage, but no opinion leaders stand up and offer suggestions as to how to stop it. More often than not, it’s shrugged off as being a “cultural thing.” How that cheapens life!

When the Richmond rape occurred, I believed the victim was more likely to be black or Hispanic. But when the usually predictable overblown response (or lack thereof) from black or Hispanic opinion leaders didn’t pop up, that was a big red flag that the victim was white, which is the case.

The boy who lured her over to the group of boys and men who were drinking on the Richmond High campus was white, and a friend. At Richmond High, whites are the minority, big time. Most of the group of male (thus far) appear to be Hispanic, though there is one black boy charged as well.

The black boy’s family say he was arrested because he’s black, and they are threatening to sue the city of Richmond for targeting the boy because of his race. The family claims he walked by and left the scene.

But Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton haven’t rushed to the black boy’s family and started their rhetoric. They must know something the family is denying ...

So far none of the Hispanic boys/men or the white boy’s family are squealing about race being the reason they were arrested. Of course media accounts have said that none of the males took questioning seriously—until the cops told them how grave the situation was and just what they were facing. No reset button. No do-overs. No taking it back.

I keep saying this to anyone I speak to about this horrific crime—it’s not about race. Bad people come in all colors. And do I think the girl was targeted because she was white? I honestly don’t know. I am inclined to believe she was just an available girl, that the group didn’t talk about targeting a white girl—it was more like any girl would do.

But we have to know about the race of the perps to know which “audience” to target in order to figure out remedies. Rape is not a crime about sex, it’s a crime of control. Standing by and watching an unconscious girl be raped is not entertainment, it’s a symptom of something much bigger—the lack of empathy and accountability. And neither the cause nor the solution are going to be easy to figure out.

You’ll get people who say this negative change in attitude and caring is because of absent fathers and irresponsible mothers on welfare. You’ll get people who say this happened because the United States is turning away from Judeo-Christian principles. You’ll get people saying this is a cultural thing (for example, me la robo bride-selling in the Trique culture), especially in a culture that devalues women and treats them as possessions. You’ll get people saying the boys/men were bored and the girl was a tart (by all accounts she was a churchgoing kid trying to fit in on campus, and went to the dance dressed nicely). You’ll get people saying it’s because of violent video games which facilitates a break from reality because of the reset button. You’ll get people saying it’s because of rap and hip-hop music that teens of all races listen to, and a common theme in that music is devaluing females (“hos”).

Maybe it’s all of that.

Yes, the school itself needs to take part of the blame. According to friends of the victim, boys/young males who were not Richmond High students were hanging around on campus. Back in the 1970s when I was in high school, that simply would not have happened—school administrators, chaperones or the cops would have chased them off. To be let into a school dance, you needed to show your student body card. If you wanted to bring in a date from another high school (or someone who had already graduated), you had to submit that person’s name to the office early in the week for approval.

And kids weren’t wandering to and hanging around in the dark, poorly-lit areas of campus—there were adults patrolling. I know this one for a fact, being the stupid little pothead I was in high school, being chased from a nice dark corner trying to toke up.

Race is relevant only in it helps sociologists, anthropologists and educators study why stuff like this happens. To make a blanket statement that says Hispanics and blacks are more likely to rape is wrong. To embrace that believe is to perpetuate racism and rape, and the devaluing of females of all colors.

Young men need to be raised with a sense of accountability and empathy. They need to be told—repeatedly—that despite what pornography tells them, rape is not fun for the woman. And they need to suffer the consequences when they cross the line.

I hate the idea that we need to raise our daughters to be more paranoid and less trusting of males, but until males understand the gravity of rape (and that means prosecute it, period), it’s up to us females to minimize their opportunities. And being a strong, assertive and streetwise female is definitely not a racial thing!


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