Racism sucks. Most of us can agree on that. The bad news is that many of us are racists. We just are. I fear that I may be a racist on some level or another. It’ll help our conversation dramatically if we can all start from the presumption that we’re all racists in some way. This way, we don’t have to all be so defensive. And if we aren’t, we can all agree that we’re all racialized…meaning, we can’t help but see the world and others via the lens of race.
I know that dialogue isn’t sufficient in itself but conversation and knowledge can become foundations to action. If you’re in the Seattle area, join us for our church’s 4th annual Faith and Race Depth Class. Register HERE. I can assure you that you’ll be disappointed by the class but that’s ok. It’s still good a good discussion to have…
For five weeks in October and November [5 consecutive Mondays beginning Oct. 22] we will be hosting our fourth annual faith and race conference. We hope to learn more about racism in America, deepen our understanding of what it means to call ourselves a “multiethnic church,” and continue the dialog that began in 2003. We will be working through a reader using excerpts from the articles and books below as well as video clips from the Color of Fear documentary. The format will be both small group discussions and lectures led/taught by members of Quest. The charge is $10 to cover the cost of materials.
By now, many of you have heard about the situation known as Jena 6. But how many of you have heard about the rape and beating of Megan Williams on September 7, 2007? Seriously, how many of you knew about this? This is from a facebook group entry and the CNN news report:
It amazes me that articles of negativity against “black Americans” can always make the headline news, but situations like this just go un-noticed. OJ Simpson is back in jail again and we have heard about that since the 1st day it began and will hear about it from now until this time next year, instead of treating OJ Simpson’s case like any other similar crime, but how much have you heard about this? It’s sad to think this is 2007 and so many things still have not changed!This happened in West Virginia, USA very recently and on Wednesday, 9/12th 2007, Megan Williams was still being treated for this in the hospital.
She was tortured and raped for a whole week, by six white individuals, Three males and three females between the ages of 20 and 49. CNN normally does not reveal sexual assault victims’ names. But Williams, who is hospitalized, and her mother, Carmen Williams, wanted her identity revealed.Police said Bobby Brewster raped Williams, forced her to lick blood and drink from a toilet, and told his mother to kill Williams if she tried to escape. Authorities previously said Williams was also forced to eat rat and dog feces.
According to criminal complaints filed in the county, Williams was assaulted, stabbed in the left leg, choked with cords and beaten for at least a week. When she was found, big parts of her hair had also been torn off of her scalp.
Williams says that Alisha Burton 22 cut her ankle with a knife while saying, “That’s what we do to Niggers around here,” police records show“I don’t understand a human being doing another human being the way they did my daughter,” Carmen Williams told The Associated Press on Tuesday from her daughter’s hospital room. “I didn’t know there were people like that out here.”
Deputies received a tip and Saturday visited a home owned by Frankie Brewster in Big Creek, West Virginia. As the deputies spoke with a woman on the front porch, “a female inside the residence limped toward the door with her arms held out, saying ‘Help me,’ ” according to a news release from the sheriff’s department.
“It’s something you’d expect to see in a horror movie, not in Logan County,” Abraham said. “She was subjected to unendurable torture down there.”
The six are charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, malicious wounding and battery. If convicted of kidnapping, a suspect could face a sentence of up to life in prison. The penalty for first-degree sexual assault is 15 to 35 years.
Abraham said he is seeking the maximum sentence on the kidnapping charges. In addition to the Brewsters, the suspects are Danny J. Combs, 20, of Harts, West Virginia; and George A. Messer, 27, Karen Burton, 46, and her daughter, Alisha Burton, 23, all of Chapmanville, West Virginia.“
They all have previous records and have been arrested numerous times,” Sheriff W.E. Hunter said Tuesday. “They are familiar to law enforcement.” Frankie Brewster was charged with first-degree murder in 1994, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in the death of an 84-year-old woman. She was released in 2000 after serving five years in prison, according to court records cited by the AP. All of the six individuals that are involved in this case are accused of 108 different cases of crimes all combined.
I was stunned when I recently read about this crime but still can’t find too much information about it. Consider these words and perspective by “clammyc” – a white female blogger:
Imagine, if you could even think of the horrific situation, where a 20 year old “pretty white woman” was abducted by six black men and women, raped, stabbed, made to eat rat droppings, drink from a toilet, threatened with death if she tried to escape and tortured for around a week.
Imagine, not only what living hell that poor woman went through, but also the fact that she was still undergoing treatment for her injuries around a month later. Imagine the 24 hour outrage on the cable news, the papers, every caring human being, not to mention the outrage by the racist people who would be decrying this, “the culture that promotes animals like this”, how this was a hate crime and the potential revenge for these horrific acts.
Imagine that the suspects all had prior arrests and records for prior crimes, including one who was arrested for murder of an 84 year old woman but pled to a lesser charge of manslaughter. We would hear about this for months, and we would all know her name, the suspects names, backgrounds and every little development in her treatment, the case and the potential blowback to the community.
Now that you have finished imagining this hell that the poor woman was subjected to, ask yourself if you have ever heard the name “Megan Williams”. I bet you haven’t. I know I didn’t – at least before today when I got an email about this matter.
You see, Megan Williams is black. And all of what you just imagined actually did happen to her a few short weeks ago, yet there has been so very little reported on this case. No round the clock commentary on CNN. No “panel of experts” talking about the degradation and breakdown of the justice system that allowed these six to even be in a position to kidnap, rape and torture Ms. Williams. No calls for protests or help for Ms. Williams or her family in this time of need. No “on the ground” reporters with live updates at the local jail, courthouse or even interviewing the locals.
No “special segments” advertised on any of the major news networks and programs. At least none that I have seen. But if you look at ABC News’ web site’s US News page, you will find a story about Natalie Holloway’s mother “still holding out hope”. And the big poll on CNN.com is whether Britney can get her life back.
I am white. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the subtle racism or discrimination that occurs on a day to day basis. I wouldn’t even try to put myself in a position to discuss experiences, dirty looks, out of line comments or anything else. No matter how much I am against this and no matter how much I speak out against it, I probably can’t do it justice or appropriately capture the emotions, anger and frustration of those who experience this.
All that being said, I can speak and have spoken out quite a bit about the “missing pretty white woman” syndrome that has taken over the reporting arm of the US corporate media. When was the last time that a missing “non-white” woman was reported as missing for more than a few minute segment? What kind of coverage would a story like this get if Ms. Williams was a “pretty white woman”? And whose family has lots of money?
Yet, once again, we have a stark contrast here. Ms. Williams is not white. And I have no idea as to whether she is pretty or wealthy, but neither of those mean anything. What does matter is that she was kidnapped, brutally beaten, tortured and threatened with death by six white people in West Virginia. And that these six people have long records, her life is scarred beyond repair and unspeakable acts were committed against her while she was imprisoned by thugs and criminals for a week.
What also matters is that this got very little ongoing coverage, and the volume that the media silence speaks when the victim isn’t white, young, pretty and wealthy.
Why else wouldn’t this story get the coverage it deserves?
This is not a rant to demonize White Americans. Hardly. It’s simply to implicate all of us. We live in such a broken nation and world. I feel so depressed right now.