Saturday, December 11, 2010

Here's Why So Many Folks Hate Crystal

Sometimes I wish I could just go live with all the folks who love me and agree with me politically. We could find an isolated patch of wooded mountains, a forgotten town on a back road, or an island in the middle of the ocean. Lot’s of people, I believe, have this dream. It is just so tiring to put up with the insanity that passes for political discourse in this country that it makes me want to scream and run away.

I know, I know, if you had the money (many of you) would gladly donate to the cause to help me achieve my goal of getting away from it all. Thank you for that sentiment but we all know that we’re pretty much stuck with each other.

Here’s a serious question that I want to ask those of you who take the time out of your day to write and post things about Crystal Mangum like “She’s a waste of a human soul” or “She’s a worthless sack of human skin”. Both of these comments are real and they both set up “humanity” as the “us” and Crystal as one of “them”. This is how one talks about an enemy because it allows you to believe that when you kill them it wasn’t murder it was more akin to exterminating a pest like rats, ants, or cockroaches. I know all about the First Amendment and I am in no way suggesting you don’t have the right to say these things. A constitutional lawyer might have something to say about it but I’m not a constitutional lawyer. What I am is a human and I hope you consider me one, i.e. as one of “us” because I would hate to be one of "them".

The “other” used to be all black folks in slavery times and then after “Reconstruction” and on into the “Jim Crow”era and, despite rumors to the contrary, the idea continues to this very day. A prime example of the persistence of this attitude is the existence and continued generation of postings such as those sited above.
Now, don’t get me wrong. If you are in some way related to those Lacrosse guys then you might be forgiven for overzealously jumping to their defense. Likewise, if you represent some other party who was harmed in the whole Lacrosse debacle – the Lacrosse coach for example – I’ll cut you a little slack. But what I don’t get is the rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth, demonizing of Crystal by nearly the entire white population of Durham, North Carolina, and the entire country.

The press has painted Crystal as a slut, a liar, a psychopath, a ghetto dwelling mooch sub-human. We can debate the merits of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case until the cows come home. That isn’t my intent here. My intent is to try to fathom what it is about Crystal Mangum that so infuriates people. I have a theory but let me lay the groundwork first.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument that Crystal is guilty of falsely accusing those Lacrosse guys. Let’s even say that she did it because she has some form of mental illness. Let’s even say she’s manipulating the legal system to some nefarious end and plans to make a fortune off her story.

I submit that the exact same actions by a white woman would not elicit such scorn and attacks as have been visited upon her to date. Here’s why:
             The United States has a long and sordid history of race relations. After the Civil War there was a brief period where black folks held positions as congressman and local politicians and business and generally were working their way into the broader American society as more or less equals. When the federal troops were abruptly pulled out of the south some 16 or so years after the war all that stopped. What became known as Jim Crow was instituted. Whites reasserted themselves as the masters and created laws to place black back into servitude. In fact there’s a great book called Slavery By Another Name that goes into detail about the thousands of black folks who were literally enslaved in the coal mines and factories of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and most other southern and some northern states. 

At the same time as this re-enslavement/apartheid was being perpetrated the “terror” wing of white society (no, of course not ALL white folks but most of them) was going around “lynching” black folks to the tune of hundreds every year. The Klan, of course, gets all the credit for the lynching but there were other groups and a great many spontaneous lynchings. You may have seen some of the post cards that were made in the twenties and thirties of a burned corpse hanging from a tree in front of the county court house with dozens of white folks in their Sunday best with picnics spread out for the event. These weren’t isolated incidents. This was common and pervasive across the south and the Midwest. 

So, knowing that this is our history when something like the Duke Lacrosse Case comes along it is really not that hard to follow the historical line of evidence of racism from times long past to the recent past (the so-called Civil Rights era) to the present. Racism was a nationwide thing and always has been. The South was just the most flagrant example of it since that’s where most black folks lived and still live. 

I do not paint with a broad brush.. The two things lacking from the whole Duke Lacrosse Case that distinguishes it from the racist riots of the 1920’s and 30’s is the use of the N word (that would have provoked a backlash that would have quickly gotten out of hand) and an actual lynching (folks had to be satisfied with doing it in the press and now in court). Everything else is the same. She’s so ghetto. She’s a whore. She’s a waste of a human soul and much, much worse. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve read what people say about her. Many of you wrote those things yourselves. You’ve said those things to your friends and shook your head as to why the “black community” can’t seem to get itself together. If you said these things or if you even thought these things you are a part of the problem. What you need to do is examine your heart and see if you can find some decency there that will allow you to see Crystal for what she is : First and foremost a human being (go ahead, say it to yourselves a few times. It gets easier every time and you’ll feel better about yourself once you let go of the hate) The next thing is to realize that as a human being she if flawed – as are we all. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. You remember that from Sunday school, don’t you? Now that we’ve established that Crystal is actually one of “us” and not a “them” we can begin to get some perspective on things. 

I know that I will be misquoted and misunderstood for saying all this. I will say right now that I am a supporter of Crystal Mangum. You don’t have to be. Go ahead and believe what you want about the things that she did. But in your heart of hearts you know that it is wrong to attack her personally. And, you know in your heart of hearts that if she were white she wouldn’t have suffered nearly the abuse that she’s gotten simply because she’s black. You also know that when a white woman accuses a black man of raping her it is a completely different scenario. Even if that woman were proven to be wrong and the black man was wealthy (I’ll have to look up case of Pro ball players this might have happened to) the outcome would have been very different. 

Now, go about your business but let’s not have any more of this racist rhetoric.

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