Saturday, September 18, 2010

Imaginary Black People Running Rampage Again!

Have to say the Bethany Storro story is one of the saddest and weirdest I've heard in a long time. Before it became known she'd thrown acid in her own face, she'd blamed a black woman for attacking her:

Bethany Storro was celebrating her new job when a stranger approached her and asked, "Hey pretty girl, do you want to drink this?"

The attacker tossed a cup full of acid in Storro’s face. Her skin immediately began to sizzle.

Naturally, the news media were only too happy to accept her dubious story at face value and every racist jerk with an internet connection was soon banging out comments at AOL and Yahoo news. Then, not unnaturally, black folks got justifiably pissed when the whole thing turned out to be a hoax. As Angry Black Bitch says:

I can’t help but wonder where the outrage is for them…for us…as I listen to news reporters, their voices softened in concern and compassion, ponder the condition of Ms. Storro even as they circumnavigate the fact that she could have and might have falsely accused a black woman all the way down the line to a trial.

Don’t sleep - this nation has a history of this sh*t…black people have swung dead from trees for this kind of sh*t…right now some people are unjustly in jail on that sh*t.

Yup. Yet again, black folks have been all too casually wronged by a media that seems happy to keep the 'wild negro' stereotype alive for the fear-based titillation of it's majority old, white consumers. Remember Susan Smith who blamed an imaginary black man for killing her two kids? Remember Ashley Todd who blamed another imaginary black man for scratching a 'B' for Barack in her face? Remember Bonnie Sweeten who blamed imaginary black guys for carjacking her and kidnapping her daughter? There's a veritable crime wave going on in America... those imaginary black folks are running rampage!

As a white guy, I continue to be deeply confused by racism. Sure, I understand how angry, ignorant people can all too easily become haters and I understand how all racism is primarily fear-based - that same fear that made Storro's story so convincing in her own mind when she came up with it. But why are so many white people scared of black people anyway? It's just plain weird. Hate is horrible but simple. But the fear that sparks it is inexplicable.

I don't know why, for instance, a black guy is always described as "this huge black guy" in so many white people stories like an unstated physical threat is always implied. I don't know why, for another instance, white people keep repeating the classic "getting lost and ending up in [insert predominantly black neighborhood]" story as if ending up in a black neighborhood by mistake is a punchline in itself... like "phew, you made it out alive?!" It's weird.

Is it some kind of sublimated collective guilt? Is it the demographic trends that show non-whites about to outnumber whites? Is it too much bad TV from the 70s? God alone knows. But it seems like just tackling racist hate is like working on the walls of the house when the foundations are shot. We need to be fixing the foundations, fixing the fear and trying to figure out what tribal throwback bullsh*t makes so many of us afraid of other people.


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