Citation
Paint it Black

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Title:
Paint it Black racialization of rape and sexual abuse
Creator:
Perkins, Sandra J
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
88 leaves : ; 28 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Discrimination in justice administration -- United States ( lcsh )
Racism -- History -- United States ( lcsh )
African American women -- Crimes against ( lcsh )
Sex discrimination against women ( lcsh )
African American women -- Crimes against ( fast )
Discrimination in justice administration ( fast )
Racism ( fast )
Sex discrimination against women ( fast )
United States ( fast )
Genre:
History. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
History ( fast )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 80-88).
General Note:
Department of Political Science
Statement of Responsibility:
by Sandra J. Perkins.

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Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
45216776 ( OCLC )
ocm45216776
Classification:
LD1190.L64 2000m .P47 ( lcc )

Full Text
PAINT IT BLACK: RACIALIZATION OF RAPE
AND SEXUAL ABUSE
by
Sandra J. Perkins
B.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 1997
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Political Science
2000


Sandra J. Perkins
Sj 2.1 co
Date
Barbara Bollmann


Perkins, Sandra J. (M.A., Political Science)
Racialization of Rape and Sexual Abuse
Thesis directed by Professor Jana Everett
ABSTRACT
This paper examines the concepts of racialization and the meta-language
of race in relation to the soci-historical process of slavery and its effect on
concepts of Black identity and human rights under the law. Research suggests
that racist ideology derived from slavery influences legal decisions involving
African- Americans. In many cases, racist language limits or denies Black victims
of sexual violence due process under the law. Research on rape rarely focuses on
African-American victims and the impact of socio-cultural perceptions of Black
identity analogous to factors such as socio-economics, and structural power
differentials. Findings suggest that there is a historical pattern of rape and sexual
violence committed against African-Americans linked to political climate and
socio-economic instability.
Critical Race Theory, Black Feminist Jurisprudence and Postmodern
Linguistics will form the theoretical constructs used to deconstruct the underlying
structure of racial ideology related to language and the law. Comparative
discourse analysis of historical accounts, biographies, narratives, newspaper
accounts, court documents, and socio-political discourse will be examined in
relation to the racialization of sexual violence. The Shenice Iverson child rape and
murder and the Abner Louima Police brutality case will be used to illustrate the
intersections of race, gender, class and socio-political power and their impact on
law and public policy.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis.
I recommend its publication.
Signed
Jana Everett
m


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Thank you to my graduate committee Dr. Jana Everett, and Dr. Myra
Bookman. Special thanks to Dr. Barbara Bollmann, Vice President of Instruction
at the Community College of Denver, and her assistant, John Robey for all their
kindness, support and understanding. Dr. Marguerite McCormick, thank you for
your wisdom and kindness. You taught me to honor my strength which gave me
the courage I needed to get through this process.


DEDICATION
I dedicate this thesis to myself, my family, and the family of Sherrice Iverson.


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION............................. 1
Sexual Violence Tool for Socio-Political Terrorism
and Political Economic Control........ 3
Comparative Socio-Political Operation of White
Supremacist Ideology.................. 11
Racialized Justice and the Hypersexualized Black
Identity................................ 20
Racism: Codex of Race, Rights and Representation 27
2. SOCIO-HISTORIC READING OF BLACK IDENTITY
3. METHODS.................................. 28
Black Feminist Jurisprudence...............51
Deconstruction.......................... 52
Structural and Post-structural Linguistics.53
4. CASE STUDIES: WHITE SUPREMACIST
SEXUAL VIOLENCE............................. 54
5. CONCLUSION............................... 73
BIBLIOGRAPHY........................................... 80
vi


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Realization extends racial meaning to previously unclassified
racial relationships, social practices and groups...and is an
ideological process...a historically specific one. Racial ideology is
constructed from pre-existing conceptual elements and emerged
from the struggles of competing political projects and ideas
seeking to articulate similar elements differently (Omi &
Winant,1993, p.31).
Black identity became hypersexualized through the socio-historical
processes of slavery. The systematic sexual exploitation of Black bodies was
justified through the economic political practices of slavery. White supremacist
ideology developed a socially constructed hypersexualized Black identity to
isolate, label and control Black people. In addition, this hypersexualized Black
identity served to dehumanize Black people and locate their use and value in
sexual and reproductive functions (Hill-Collins,1990; Roberts,1997).
According to Hill-Collins (1990), the White hegemony continues to use
the hypesexualized Black identity to label Black culture and marginalize Black
people from mainstream socio-political and economic processes. Busia & James,
(1993) argue that trace notions of this socially constructed hypersexualized Black
identity remain deeply rooted in socio-cultural philosophy and are reflected in law
and public policy. According to Davis (1989), in terms of crime and punishment,
the criminal justice system implies that all Black people are criminal elements,
and therefore cannot be victimized. As a result, Black victims of sexual violence
1


(Dusky, 1996) must prove their cases beyond a racist socially constructed and
hypersexualized identity. Racist ideology in law and public policy
(Higginbotham, A.L.1993) facilitates the application of a stratified system of
responsibility and justice based on notions of race.
Research suggests that there is a pattern of differential assessment and
treatment of African-Americans victims of rape and sexual abuse which
corresponds to racist white supremacist ideology coded into law and public policy
linked to a socially constructed hypersexualized Black identity (Roberts 1997;
Morrison et al, 1992; Taylor,1998). Comparative discourse analysis from
historical accounts, newspaper reports, magazine articles, biographies, and
narratives which document or recall incidents of racist sexual violence will be
used to deconstruct racially coded ideology embedded in language, law and
behavior which reflects and embodies the socially constructed hypersexualized
Black identity.
The Abner Louima police brutality incident and the Sherrice Iverson rape
and murder case will be examined to illustrate the impact of racist ideology and
the socially constructed Black identity on law and socio-political discourse.
Critical race theory, Black Feminist Jurisprudence and Postmodern Language
theory will be used to analyze white supremacist ideology in law, public policy
and socio-cultural discourse linked to personal or political expressions of
anti-Black racist-sexual violence.
2


Sexual Violence; Tool for Socio-Cultural
Terrorism and Political Economic. Control
Sexual violence as an expression of domination and control became
racialized through the socio-historic process of slavery (Hill-Collins,1990;
Roberts, 1997). The European slave trade normalized the use of sexual violence as
the primary mode of subjection and control against enslaved Black people
(Andrews et al 1997; Burnside & Robotham, 1997). White supremacist
socio-religious propaganda constructed a myth of Black racial inferiority to
justify the denigration of African people and cultures (Ani,1995; Andrews et
al, 1997). Africans were seasoned: prepared for slavery by being repeatedly raped
while incarcerated in slave castles by their captors, and were forced to watch the
rapes of family members or others (Andrews et al, 1997; Burnside &
Robotham,1997; Feelings; 1997). Seasoning was a distinct methodology
cultivated by European slavers to psychologically indoctrinate enslaved African
people into a slave identity. Repeated rape and its dehumanizing emotional and
physical after-effects served to psychologically break enslaved Africans,
terrorizing them into submission to their captors. Enslaved Black people were
denied personal autonomy over their physical bodies, attitude, behavior and
appearance; this made them malleable to the whims and demands of their captors
( Pacifica Archives, 1997; Richardson & Wade, 1999; Rodiger,1997).
During slavery, Black identity was reconfigured to fit the doctrine of
their inhumane captors. Those who would not comply to the new role that slavery
required of them were subjected to more psychological torture and sexual violence
3


at the hands of overseers and slavemasters/mi stresses. Under the system of
slavery, Black people were forced to work and breed as if they were chattel. Men,
women and children were expected to work and perform whatever duties required
of them. No consideration was given to Black female slaves in regard to female
biological processes, pregnancy or menstruation did not preclude them from being
exempted from working under the same conditions as Black male slaves.
(Roberts,1997) White supremacy masculinized Black female identity through the
processes of slavery (Hill-Collins,1990; hooks, 1992).
The plantation system legitimized an economy based on the sexual
exploitation of Black people. Language in the law coded Blacks as less than
human property. The United States Constitution included a provision called the
Three-Fifths Compromise Article one Section 2 which designated Black people
as three fifths of all other persons (Roberts,1997; Rothenberg,1992). In
addition, subsequent slavery and emancipation state legislation such as and An
Act for the Better Ordering and Governing Negroes and Slaves (1712) and The
Black Codes in (1865) are examples of legislation which mandated government
control over free Blacks and slaves.
The Black body was used by slave masters as a sexual object, to be
marketed, distributed and bred for economic purposes. Black bodies became
sexual objects used to reproduce the labor force and repositories for the
libidinous desires of others. The criminal justice system didnt consider rape or
sexual abuse of slaves or free Blacks a crime (Hill-Collins, 1990; Roberts, 1997).
Rape, incest, and sexual mutilation were common practices among slave-traders
4


and owners (Berlin et al, 1998; Richardson & Wade,1999). In fact, masters often
sold their own children from slave women that they had sexual relations or had
sex with their own mixed race children (Andrews et al, 1997; Ball,1999;
Roberts,1997; Richardson & Wade, 1999). The mother of Black abolitionist
Frederick Douglas was a slave and his father a unknown White slave master
(McFeely, 1991).
Contrary to popular conceptions, white supremacist socio-political
ideology and behavior towards Black people wasnt eliminated with
Emancipation. The White hegemony considered newly emancipated Black people
a threat to the established socio-economic and political structure. Whites feared
that the inclusion of Blacks would be disruptive and lead to a reconfiguration of
their ruling social structured political order.
Yet, in spite of the Jim Crow, segregation and anti-miscegenation laws
mandated to prevent or restrict Black people from integrating into mainstream
socio-cultural processes, many organized hardworking Black people succeeded
and excelled in all areas of commerce, education and the arts (Andrews et al,1997;
Katz,1995). Black peoples success in spite of racist opposition was seen as a
direct challenge to the notion of white supremacy (Andrews et al, 1997; Rodiger
,1998).
Militant factions of the white hegemony developed and organized racist
terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan ( KKK) advocated the use of sexual
violence as a means to control the Black community. They combined white
supremacist religious philosophy with political ideology to reconfigure God in
5


their image in order to justify the use of racist terrorism to dominate and control of
Black people ( Andrews, et al, 1997; Katz, 1995; Ridgeway,1995). In their minds
anyone who did not conform to this image was inhuman and needed to be
controlled or eliminated.
The KKK and their supporters used lynching as a symbolic ritual to
express their racist hatred of Black people (Andrews et al,1997). There are
branches of the KKK which include members of the law enforcement, judges,
attorneys, educators and doctors in their ranks (Katz, 1995; Ridgeway, 1995).
Matt Hale, the leader of one of the fastest growing white supremacist groups,
World Church of the Creator is the son of a retired Chicago policeman. Hale and
his group do most of their recruiting on college campuses and through the Internet
(Belluck, 1999; SPLC 1998-99).
Throughout the United States from Emancipation to the late 1950s
thousands of Black people were murdered by racist violence (Andrews et al,
1997; Thompson, 1993). According to a national register complied by the
Tusgekee Institute: From 1862-1965 over 6000 Black Americans were murdered
in acts of racist violence in the United States and between 1865-1965 over 2400
African Americans were lynched in the United States (www.geocites.com., 2000,
p.l). Its important to note that this information is from documented accounts,
numbers would be higher with the addition of undocumented accounts and
incidents from 1966 and the present.
Lynching involved hanging, sexual mutilation, torture, display and or
burning of the victim. Alleged rapes of White women by Black men were used as
6


an excuse to lynch; mutilate, rape, and murder Black men, women and children
(Andrews et al, 1997; Thompson,1990). In fact, this violence was driven by racist
anger, frustration and desire to dominant and control the Black populous. Lynch
mob mentality usually took place in a perverse festive atmosphere. Many white
newspapers advertised lynching days in advance to assure a large crowd, and in
many instances women and children were encouraged to observe and take part in
the event (Andrews et al, 1997; Harris et al, 1974; Thompson,1990). White mobs
passed out mutilated genitalia as trophies or displayed them as souvenirs (Harris
et al, 1974). Lynching served to send Blacks the message that their presence and
any assertion of their human rights would not be tolerated in white racist society
(Andrews et al,1997; Katz, 1995).
Historically, hate crimes against African-Americans correlate with trends
in socio-economic decline and prosperity and socio-cultural change. For example,
during the 1920s, prosperous Black communities such as Rosewood, Florida and
Tulsa, Oklahomas Black Wall St. were destroyed by angry white racists who
were envious of their accomplishments ( Henderson & Johnson, 1999; DOrso
1996). Individuals in these communities who had the courage to stand up against
the forces white supremacy suffered reprisal from white vigilante forces. Many of
them were were raped, lynched, or murdered, and had their property destroyed
(Henderson & Johnson, 1998). According to Katz,
By the end of WWI the Klan claimed to have a membership of
five million people, with branches all over the United States...the
flaming cross-the Klans warning to all those opposed-burned from
New York to Oregon as well as Mississippi. Klan powers stretched
7


from Maine to California and from local sheriffs to the United
States Senate. D.C. Stephenson Grand Dragon of the Indiana Klan
proclaimed-1 am the law in Indiana...In 1923 the governor of
Oregon and mayor of Portland attended a dinner for the Oregon
Klan... In 1925 forty thousand Klansmen marched in front of the
U.S. capital (1995, p.370).
In the 1930s to 40s America was moving from an agricultural based
economic structure into an industrial based economic structure. After the
Depression thousands of Black people migrated from the South to get away from
one step out of slavery sharecrop farming to seek work in the factories and
industries of the north. The mass migration of Black workers from the South to
the North is commonly referred to as The Great Migration (Andrews et al,1997;
Katz, 1995). Northern urban ghettos which had been exclusively, Jewish, Italian,
Irish or Dutch, now had Black immigrants from the South. The resulting change
of population and economic distribution caused racial tensions to flair, which
often resulted in violence. (Henderson & Johnson,1998).
One example of this kind of racist violence and reprisal, is the infamous
(Katz,1995) Scotsborro Boys trial (1931) where nine Black youths between the
ages of 11-25 riding railway cars hoping to find work in Northern factories were
falsely accused of raping two white prostitutes (p. 401). They were tried and
sentenced to death. However, subsequent testimony from the two women
revealed that they had lied, and after nine year legal battle waged by the
Communist Workers Party and the NAACP they were freed.
In the 1940s returning WWII Black veterans who had enjoyed positive
interracial relationships and experiences in Europe upon their return to the US
8


were subjected to racist violence or lynching. Many returning Black veterans
were decorated war heroes. For example, the Tuskegee Airmen eighty eight of
these pilots won the Distinguished Flying Cross in bombing and staffing
missions, and Dome Miller a navy mess attendant (the only duty an
African-American was allowed to have in the navy at that time) risked his life to
save fellow crew members including the captain, during a torpedo attack by the
Japanese in the open sea. Fleet admiral Chester Nimitz pinned the navy cross on
Miller for distinquised devotion to duty, extraordinary courage, and disregard for
his own personal safety (Katz,1995, p.414). However, Black veterans were
often told by their commanding officers and those of authority in the community
to refer to their military stints as being in service. The ruling white supremacist
hegemony wanted to send them the message that they needed to stay in their place
(Andrews et al,1997; Katz, 1995).
In thel950s and 60s Civil Rights workers were routinely subjected to
racist violence and opposition. Media coverage of demonstrations showed the
depth and extent of racist violence to which Black people were subjected. For the
first time television viewers were able to see the types of violence the police used
against Black people. Civil rights workers, demonstrators (who traditionally had
women and children in the lead) were whipped, firehouse and attacked by
German shaped police dogs. Black female Civil Rights workers arrested during
demonstrations were often subjected to sexual assault and sometimes rape by
white supremacist police officers (Hampton & Fayer, 1995).
9


Many civil rights workers and their supporters suffered violent reprisals
and sometimes murder at the hands of white supremacist individuals and
organizations. The murders of Medger Evers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
Goodman, Chaney and Schwemer, the Birmingham Church bombing which killed
four little girls, are some examples of the human sacrifices made for the Civil
Rights movement (Hampton, H. & Fayer, 1995).
In the 1970s and 80s police brutality became even more prevalent in the
Black community. There were many incidents of mistaken identity shootings and
murders by police of young Black men and sometimes children (Andrews et al
1997; Davis, A.Y. et al 1998; Katz,1995). The aftermaths of the murders of
Malcolm X, Senator Robert Kennedy Jr., Fred Hampton, Oakland Black Panther
leader, and the dismantling of the Black Panther party through FBI infiltration,
concentration of gang and drug activity in Black communities, resulted in rioting
which left many Black urban communities under seize and subject to police
terrorism (Katz,1999; Haley,1964; Hampton, H. & Fayer, 1995).
In the 1980s -1990s to the present police brutality and harassment of
African-Americans has reached epidemic proportions (Curry et al,1998; Davis,
A.Y. et al, 1998). Backlash against affirmative action and the resurgence of
KKK, Neo-Nazis and other right wing organizations and the popularity of
conservative politics which is often a code word for racist politics has inspired
racial violence against Black people (Katz, 1995. Hampton & Fayer, 1995).
Recent examples are the Atlanta child murders, The Oklahoma City bombing and
murder of James Byrd HI in Texas.
10


In general the types of racist violence perpetrated on Black people have
become increasingly sexually orientated and in some cases is perpetrated by other
minorities (Cuny et al, 1998-2000, Klanwatch, 1998). There have been many
newspapers and media reports of this type of racist violence but for the most part
its ignored by the general public. The police brutality of Abner Louima and the
Shenice Iverson rape and murder case illustrate the depth and influence of white
supremacist ideology and language on notions of race, representation, and power
and justice.
Comparative. Analysis; Socio-Political Operation
of White Supremacist Ideology
In many regards, past and present American society resembles that of
apartheid South Africa. Racialized socio-political processes are predicated on
white supremacist ideology which positions whiteness as the privileged
socio-political category of entitlement and power. Apartheid South African
political ideology fused notions of white supremacy, with religious doctrine and
pseudo-genetics as a weapon to secure socio-economic control over natural
resources. White supremacy characterized the colonization and exploitation of
Black African nations and peoples as civilization. Black identity was denigrated
through a white supremacist social-cultural paradigm which framed African
culture as primitive and degenerative (Mandela, W., 1984; Sampson, 1999).
Under apartheid, every aspect of Black socio-cultural behavior was under
the scrutiny and control of the white South African government. Black men were
separated from their families and forced to work under dangerous conditions in
11


the gold and diamond mines in order to provide the fruit of the wealth for the
white populous. Black families were forced to live in urban ghettos or in rural
isolation. In apartheid South Africa, Blacks who were traveling outside of Black
townships had to produce a pass on demand to police or any white person to
verify that they had permission to be in designated white areas. The plunder of
the countrys natural resources and cultural treasures was justified through the
claim of manifest destiny aligned to false white supremacist assertions that
anything of beauty and worth must be equated to whiteness (Mandela, W. 1984;
Sampson,1999).
However, white supremacy will tolerate the presence of others as long as it
will facilitate maintaining a racist social order. The white South African
government doled out certain rights and privileges according to assigned racial
classifications. Designations of honorary whiteness provided East Indians,
Asians ,and Coloreds (mixed race people) and Black government informants often
received better public services, housing educational opportunities and more
freedom to travel than the vast majority of Blacks.
The African National Congress (ANC) developed out of the Black
communities desire to initiate action to secure human and civil rights for all
people of color. ANC organizers hoped that by educating the world about the true
nature of apartheid it would eradicate the socio-political polices of the racist
apartheid South African government Many ANC activist and supporters were
tortured or murdered beaten by the South African police or government
informants (Mandella, W.1984; Sampson, 1999).
12


Traces of racial segregation and white supremacy remain entrenched in
the countrys socio-political structures. African factional retainers of the racist
apartheid system have attempted to use the release of ANC Black liberation leader
Nelson Mandela, and his subsequent election as South Africas first Black
president to present the appearance that racism in South African society has been
eliminated. In reality whites continue to retain much of the socio-economic
power.
Militant white supremacist factions of the former South African
government have resorted to obtaining the support of international Neo-Nazi and
militia organizations such as the National Front to generate rifts between Black
African political organizations and prevent them from forging alliances with East
Indians, Asians, Coloreds and progressive Whites. The goal of these anti-Black
government movements is to undermine attempts to form a unified South African
government In the midst of this, the current South African government, under
new President Tabo Enbeke, is struggling to correct the injustices endured under
the racist white South African regime (Chrisman et al,1999).
The US operates from a similar position, racialized law and public policy
continues to link notions of identity and equal rights to those developed from
white supremacist ideology. Power and control are driven and maintained
through relations of force created by manipulative disruptive social processes.
The ruling white hegemony retains power through an ascendancy based on
divisive racial friction and oppression. This is done by creating a constant state of
tension and play between differences and the Other inscribed in diametrical
13


opposed binary oppositions (Derrida, 1997). Circumstances are created in which
binary relationships based on contrived racial differences are configured to
provide a vehicle for one group to believe they have the right to hold power over
another (Rodiger, 1998). This difference is used to create notions of preordained
privilege based on white supremacist racial categories which favor whiteness as
the supreme socio-cultural category and political authority (Ani,1995; Ignatiev,
1995).
Postmodern racism has a new face. White supremacy uses people of color
and minorities as enforcers for racist white supremacist ideology. These others
have found it desirable to promote their own socio-cultural economic and political
agendas through racist paradigms which locate blackness as the degenerative
factor within the ruling white supremacist system in which they wish to be a part
of. Some people of color have elected to adapt to white supremacist soci-political
rhetoric to get ahead at the expense of those who fought for equal rights for all
through the Civil Rights work of the 50s and 60s.
Conferences, political forums, public policy research, writing and
socio-cultural discourse are often forums for anti-black racist ideology that pits
people of color and other minorities against Black people (African Summit
1998-1999; hooks & West, 1991; NAWE,1999; Taylor,1998; WPSA,1999).
When people of color and other minorities chose to assimilate via adhesion to
white supremacist socio-political ideology they become accomplices in the
maintenance of racist-sexist oppression. It angers white supremacy when those
who oppose their racist ideology are able to assertion this strategy of divide and
14


conquer because it undermines their pernicious efforts to maintain a white
supremacist hegemony (Andrews et al, 1997; Ani,1995).
Black socio-political positionality and situatedness (Williams, 1993)
continue to be linked to that of the slave identity through white supremacist binary
oppositions of power based on race, rights and representation. This permeates all
sociocultural relationships and experiences, as well as perceptions of Black
identity and being. The white supremacist mind-set views Black civil and
individual rights as privileges doled out at the discretion and expense of the white
hegemony. The white hegemony only allows the Black presence into its system
insofar as it will provide a false perception that anti-Black racism no longer exists.
Many critical race theorist see Clarence Thomass nomination to the Supreme
Court as an example of this (Curry et al, 1997; Morrison et al, 1992).
White women and other minorities have increasingly benefited from
affirmative action legislation developed from equal rights legislation (Stetson et
al, 1997; Taylor,1998). According to Ula L. Taylor (1998) Assistant Professor of
African American Studies at University of California Berkley:
a closer look at affirmative action reveals that more white, formally
educated women gained the affirmative action edge than any other
group, prior to 1975, white feminist did not stress the advantage of
affirmative action but instead focused on the ERA and aggressive
enforcement of the Title IX education amendments of 1975, which
pressured institutions to admit women in graduate schools. By the
late 1970s and early 1980s many white women were strategically
positioned to benefit from affirmative action (p.18).
15


Employment, education, economic, housing opportunities are provided
for designated non-black others through affirmative action legislation which has
become a smokescreen to hide the continued racial discrimination Black people
continue to experience in these areas (Curry et al, 1999; Morrison et al ,1992).
Businesses, colleges, universities, and lending institutions would rather use or
represent those other than Blacks to present a facade of multicultural
representation (Altbach & Lomotey, 1991; Stetson et al,1997; Taylor, 1998).
However, when Black people admitted into social institutions do not
comply to assigned racist stereotypes they are targeted and harassed or framed as
tokens on the affirmative action ticket. Every nuance of their actions is
scrutinized and their presence is used to represent that of the entire race or group
(Johnson-Bailey 1999; Taylor, 1998; Williams,1993). Higher education has
become an increasingly hostile environment for people of color. According to
Johnson-Bailey (1999): Blade females make up the largest number of students
of color at the under graduate and graduate level ....overall the women
characterized their reentry episodes as chilling experiences and depicted academia
as hostile...Black women are expected to give 105% (p.40). In reality many of
these institutions only admit Blacks or other minorities because of equal rights
legislation and affirmative action. (Altbach & Lomotey, 1991; Morrison et al,
1992; Roberts, 1997; Taylor,1998).
Apparently, the University of California at Berkley did not feel this way
when they admitted David Cash, an admitted accomplice in the 1997 rape and
murder of seven year old Sherrice Iverson. For the most part it was ignored that
16


Cash and his friend convicted rapist murderer Jeremy Strohmeyer (both of whom
are White males from affluent families) routinely participated in sexual hate
crimes and viewed child pornography (RJ-online, 1998). The University
California at Berkley did not bar Cash from admittance or hold him morally
accountable for his actions and participation in the crime.
Socio-political discourse surrounding the Sheirice Iverson and Abner
Louima cases decontexualized the nature of the sexual violence and racist
ideology of the perpetrators. In fact many people know little or nothing about
these cases. Moreover, there wasnt a huge public outcry or moral apprehension
against the Cash or Strohmeyer families for their sons actions or expressions of
sympathy and condolence for the Iverson family over their daughters death. The
racist sadomasochistic nature of the Abner Louima police brutality case was
defused by media reports which attempt to frame Louima as being responsible for
the attack because he provoked police officers through his presence attitude and
behavior (Human Rights Watch, 1998).
White criminal activity or sexual violence are not racialized or used as a
normative value for group activity (Davis et al,1998; Hill-Collins, 1990; Roberts,
1997). The historical record shows that in many instances Whites have routinely
committed crimes of racist hatred expressed as sexual violence against Black
people without suffering any legal repercussions (Andrews, et al, 1997;
Thompson, 1993; Richardson & Wade, 1999).
In contrast when a Black person commits a criminal act the entire race is
vilified and socio-political discourse reflects the attitude that blackness is
17


pathological criminal, inept and immoral (Busia & James, 1993; Davis, A.Y.,et al
1998; Roberts, 1997). The meta-language of race Higginbotham (1993)
influence notions of Black identity, legal and human rights. The white hegemony
applies racist stereotypes to Black identity in order to code it as separate and
inherently other from human identity or being (Ani,1995). Within this construct
blackness is defined through socio-political definitions developed through white
supremacist paradigms. The repercussions of this imposed identity resonate as
psychic rape (Avery,1993) through racist socio-cultural experiences and
relationships linked to white supremacist ideology and institutionalized racism.
The ideological state apparatus (ISA) which Althuser (1971) describes as,
the educational system, the arts and the media (p.130) blames blackness and
Black people for the negative circumstances which created the denigration of their
cultural and ethnic heritage. Knowledge of African/Black history and culture is
tunneled through white supremacist revisionist historical paradigms which
consign African-American history, contributions to society and culture to the
slave experience. Its very peculiar in this era of diversity that in 1999 the movie
(1937) Gone with the Wind continues to be very popular and in many regards
represents the average perception of Black identity and being from slavery to the
present (Ani,1995; Andrews et al, 1997; West, 1998).
The media uses surrealistic audiovisual images and referents to bombard
and assault the senses with messages that funnel blackness into stereotypical
categories of manifestation and expression (Best & Kellner, 1991; hooks,1992).
Individuals and images which exemplify Black intelligence, beauty, courage and
18


dignity are seldom seen or are considered exceptions to the rule and dangerous.
Racist caricatures such as Mammies, Sapphires, Uncle Toms, and pickaninnies
serve as templates for the hoochie mamas, welfare queens, and gangsters who
signify the personification of societys ills (hooks, 1993; Busia & James, 1993 ).
These images reinforce the message that Black culture is morally depraved and
that Black people are; stupid, lazy, dangerous, and in need of control
(Roberts, 1997; Rodiger,1998). Black people who deviate from these ascribed
stereotypes are vilified and punished (hooks,1989; Morrison et al, 1992). The
socially constructed Black identity serves to fix and reduce Black identity to one
concept nigger, which serves as the definitive other/scapegoat for the white
hegemony (Andrews et al, 1997; Foucault, 1971; Rodiger,1997).
Public policy continues to use race as a rationale for establishing notions
of legal standards for rights and responsibility under the law (Busia & James,
1993; Morrison et al, 1992; Roberts,1997; Taylor, 1998). Socio-political research
and analysis favors racist statistical studies which frame Black people as
uneducated welfare recipients, single mothers or criminals (Busia & James, 1993;
Hill -Collins 1990; Morrison et al, 1992). Socio-political discourse continues to
mark the end of slavery and point to the success of a few prominent Black people
and entertainers as indicators that anti-Black racism and discrimination no longer
exist (Cuny et al, 1999; Vaz, 1995). In reality the white supremacist hegemony
still sends the message through the ISA that Black people are not quite human and
therefore need to be examined and treated from a different perspective than other
people (Davis,1999; Gould, S.1996; Roberts, 1997; Rodiger,1998).
19


The infamous Moynihan report, and Charles Murrays book, The Bell
Curve are examples of racist public policy and research used to flame Black
people as dependent on social service programs and biologically flawed
(Katz,1995; Morrison et al,1992; Gould,S.1996; Roberts,1997). According to
African-American historian Richard Katz (1995):
At the end of 1994 the Bell Curve became a best-seller and was
widely praised by conservative politicians. However, its argument
that [people of color] were genetically inferior rested on old refuted
studies, some written by pro-Nazis and other racist Its thesis and
popularity were welcomed by those who sought to reduce federal
aid to the poor and disadvantaged, (p.680)
Issues such as crime, welfare reform, teen pregnancy and HTV/AIDS are
presented as characteristic of Black cultural norms and sexual mores (Busia &
James,1993; Hill-Collins 1990; Roberts, 1997). Seldom do researchers take into
account the lack of quality health care information and services, access to quality
education, jobs and transportation, or adequate police protection and rape and
incest counseling in Black communities in relation to these problems. (Avery et
al, 1993; Davis ,1989; Startling,1998; Pierce-Baker, 1998).
Racialized Justice and fheijypersexulized-Black Identity
Language written in law and public policy harbors perceptions that Black
people have an innate criminal nature and therefore are guilty until proven
innocent. In the criminal justice system, Black victims of crime must prove then-
credibility beyond a preconceived racist identity. As a result, they often suffer
20


legal lynching by a racist criminal justice system which automatically equates
blackness to criminal behavior. Crimes or acts of violence committed against
them are positioned from the perspective that their Black presence inspired the
criminal act committed against them.
Law enforcement routinely criminates blackness in order to justify and
encourage the use of violence against Black people. In their minds all Black
people fit the description. This is indicative of the mentality and behavior law
enforcement officials often exhibit when dealing with Black people. It is used to
justify criminal profiling mistaken identity arrests and even murder. (Curry et al,
1998-1999; Davis.A Y. et al, 1998; Davis, M. 1997). In addition there have been
incidents when Black individuals have been purposely framed for crimes they did
not commit because of perceptions by racialized law enforcement that blackness
equals criminal identity or as racist retaliation for their political activities (Curry,
etal, 1998-2000; Katz,1995).
All Black people are prone to being subjected to facist acts of violence at
the hands of police who operate against members of the community as an arm of
the repressive state apparatus (RPA) which (Allthusser, 1971, p.132) describes
as the government, law enforcement, military. The police often harass Black
people in the form of routine stops and checks for identification while walking in
designated White neighborhoods, or excessive stops and searches of Black
motorist in new vehicles Driving While Black (DWB) because they look
suspicious.
21


The DWB police brutality incident in Texas against NASA astronaut and
scientist Dr. Mae Jemison is an example of such an incident She was stopped on
the freeway by a police officer who told her she fit the profile of a known
criminal. When she attempted to produce her identification, she was grabbed
pushed face down into the ground, handcuffed and taken to the police station and
placed in a filthy holding cell where she was held for hours before her release
(Neutral,1999).
Black people who attempt to assert their legal rights in situations of police
harassment or violence are characterized as unruly criminal elements. According
to a 1998 Human Rights Watch report, police brutality and murder of Black
people is often justified through glib statements such as: the suspect needed to
be controlled because he/she would not corporate. I thought he/she had a gun. It
was a case of mistaken identity (Human Rights Watch, 1998). This is the same
line of reasoning Justine Volpe the New York city police officer charged in the
1997 beating and sexual torture of Abner Louima, attempted to use as an defense
for his actions.
In general Black people feel that the police are not there to serve and
protect them or their community. At any given time the police are prone to react
violently from racist preconceptions of Black identity coded as criminal behavior.
(Davis, M.,1998). In general law enforcement tends to display a hostile demeanor
towards Black people. As a result, many Black people tend to view the police as a
potential threat to their live, liberty or safety. The recent acquittal of the four
22


NYPD police officers indicted in the shooting death Amadu Diallo is an example
of police murder justified as mistaken identity through criminal profiling.
The four officers involved claimed they fired forty one shots into Diallo
because they thought he had a gun and he kind of fit the profile of a suspected
rapist (Human Rights Watch, 1998). This is just as ridiculous as the Angela
Davis conviction as an accomplice in the George Jackson police murder trial
partially through the prosecutions assertion that she hid the murder weapons, a 22
caliper shot gun and a 45 automatic in her Afro (Davis, A., 1974).
In cases of sexual violence, white supremacist paradigms which deem
Black people un-rape-able are superimposed upon notions of justice (Roberts,
1997). Most information and research on sexual violence either generalizes racial
components or excludes incidents of rape or sexual violence against people of
color from their analysis (Avery et al, 1993; Davis,1989; Hill-Collins,1990;
McNair & Neville, 1996). Popular culture and social discourse characterize the
typical rape victim as a white female and the perpetrator a Black male (Andrews
et al,1997; Roberts, 1997; Startling, 1998). However, careful examination of
crime reports and statistical evidence presents a different picture. Most sexual
offenders tend to be acquainted with and of the same race of the victim. (McNair
& Neville,1996; Startling, 1998). According to a recent FBI Bureau of Criminal
Statistics (1996) report, the average victim of sexual violence tends to be young,
Black females who use public transportation and live or work in low income
urban areas (Starting,1998). In addition, the nature of these crimes tends to be
more violent with multiple perpetrators who use a weapon against the victim
23


(National Victims Center, 1992). In the case of hate crimes which target
African-Americans/ Blacks, they are often premeditated and there is usually a
component of sexual violence (Curry et al, 1998-1999; SPLC, 1998). The sexual
torture and murder of seven year old Sherrice Iverson by Jeremy Stromeyer and
his accomplice David Cash is an example of racist sexual violence ( Las Vegas
Review Journal, 1998).
In the court of law, racist preconceptions of Black sexuality which frames
Black women as promiscuous and Black men as aggressive influences assessment
and sentencing in sexual violence cases involving Black victims (Davis,1989;
Dusky, 1996; Hill-Collins,1990). Judges, jurors, and attorneys, decisions and
sentencing reflect the rationale that the Black victims presence or behavior made
them accountable for the crime ( Davis, 1989; Dusky, 1996; Hill-Collins, 1990).
Sexual violation or harassment of Black females (women or children) are not
considered criminal acts to the same degree as violations of white women
(Morrison, et al, 1992; Roberts, 1997). In addition, many Whites eroticize or
view rape or sexual abuse of Black victims as indicative of normative Black
sexual practices (Dusky, 1996; Haley, 1964; Roberts, 1997; Rodiger, 1998). As a
result, they rarely receive consideration or compensation equal to that of
non-black counterparts (Dusky, 1996; Roberts, 1997; Taylor 1998).
In cases of rape against Black females, there is an additional component
linked to the social constructed hypersexualized Black identity inculcated in the
concept of the continued de-valuation of black womanhood (Hill-Collins,1990;
hooks, 1981). Black female identity is denigrated through socio-cultural ideology
24


which characterizes them as less than female and un-rape-able (Davis, 1989;
hooks, 1989; Roberts, 1997). The white supremacist mind-set continues to
denigrate Black femininity by linking it to masculinity and myths of constant
sexual availability (Hill-Collins,1990; hooks, 1992).
Those who operate from a racist-sexist mindset cant conceive that Black
people suffer damaging psychological or physical consequences from rape
(McNair & Neville, 1996; Startling,1998; Pierce-Baker,1999). This message is
reinforced through stereotypical images of Black sexuality presented in the media
coverage and socio-cultural discourse which characterize sexual violence as
indicative of Black cultural mores (McCall, 1994; Pierce-Baker,1998; Sapp et al
1999).
The imprint of trace memories of slavery derived from the collected
unconsciousness of slavery leads many Black men and women to internalize white
supremacist racist hatred into expressions of self hatred. Black men tend to
disregard and disrespect Black womanhood; they evaluate standards of normative
womanhood through ascribed white supremacist paradigms which comparatively
deify white women and degrade Black women (hooks, 1992; Kaplan, 1998;
McCall,1994). Black women tend to sanction themselves from addressing their
sexual violence out of perceived cultural obligation to protect their families and
the Black community (Fine, 1998; Pierce-Baker, 1998; Starling, 1998; St, Joan &
McElhinery,1997). In some instances Black victims of sexual abuse report being
shunned, silenced or face retaliation from members of their community or family
who have internalized racist sexist attitudes.
25


Historically, the ruling white hegemony modeled the use of sexual
violence as a phallocentric tool of subjugation, domination and power against
Black people ( Burnside & Robotham, 1997, Roberts, 1997). As a result, many
Black men view Black female bodies as sexual use objects and property there for
the taking (Roberts, 1997; Sapp et al, 1999). Some of these men, experience
displaced feelings of powerlessness, rage and shame linked to the collective
unconsciousness of slavery when they were restricted from protecting Black
females or themselves from sexual violence. They buy into racist misogynist
ideology based on the socially constructed hypersexualized Black identity
encourages Black males to prove their masculinity and power through sexual
expression and the denigration of Black females (McCall, 1997; Sapp et al 1999).
In addition, the socio-historic processes of slavery has left a trace notion
that there will be few-if any repercussions against men who sexual abuse Black
women therefore it is not perceived as a criminal act (Davis, 1989; McCall,1994;
Sapp et,al,1999). As a result, many Black victims of sexual violence encounter
racist attitudes and behaviors from law enforcement or public service agency
which are supposed to provide counseling and services to rape victims in the form
of racist diatribe and treatment, or sometimes revictimization. (Avery et al,1993;
Davis, 1989; Dusky,1996; Startling,1998).
26


Racism: Codex of race, rights and representation
Roberts Moore (In Rothenberg,1992) states in the essay Racism in the
English Language: Language not only develops in conjunction with societys
historical, economic and political evolution: it also reflects societies attitudes and
thinking(p.331) Language frames perceptions and ideas about ourselves others
and the world around us. Its the lens from which we verbally and nonverbal,
express the scope of our knowledge and frame our relationships. Postmodern
white supremacy is a politics of representation. As a result, Black legal rights,
political representation, and personal autonomy, has rapidly deteriorated (Davis,
et al, 1998; Morrison, et al, 1992). American society is moving towards one mode
of political power and dominance through the reinforcement of racial alliteracy a
Vaz (1995) racial alliteracy the claim of some Whites that they do not see race,
while simultaneously reinscribing power differentials based on race. (p.30).
White supremacist ideology and behavior are not relegated to phenotypic
appearance; Race, rights and representation has become the text for racist
ideology formulated through white supremacist attitude, behavior and expression.
(Ani, 1995; Rodiger, 1998). Terms such as White/whiteness, white mindset and
Black/blackness are socio-political concepts and destinations analogous to
perceptions of self-identification, power, human and legal rights.
Racist expression is a pathogen which can manifest itself in a malignant
manner. Postmodern white supremacy inherent in conservative socio-political
rhetoric and socio-cultural discourse can inspire hate speech acts which erupt into
acts of violence or murder ( Butler,1998; Rothenberg, 1992). The sexual assault
27


of Abner Louima and the rape and murder of seven year old Sheirice Iverson are
examples of pathological hate speech acts inspired by racist conceptual constructs
expressed in the modus operandi of white supremacist domination and subjection.
28


CHAPTER 2
SOCIO-HISTORIC READING
OF BLACK IDENTITY
Trace essences of the slave identity embedded in language, social
discourse and law continue to frame notions of Black identity, human and civil
rights. White supremacist propaganda continues to position blackness as the
subordinate in order to reinforce messages that slaves/blacks were/are inferior and
not quite human, and therefore unworthy of equal consideration and treatment.
The Abner Louima police brutality case and the Sherrice Iverson rape/murder case
illustrate the intersectionality of white supremacist ideology, race, and gender on
legal decisions concerning sexual violence (Higginbotham, E.1993;
Roberts, 1997).
According to Rutgers law professor and Black feminist jurisprudence
scholar, Dorothy Roberts (1997), whites invented the hereditary trait of race and
endowed it with the concept of racial superiority and inferiority to resolve the
contradiction between slavery and liberty (p.9). Under the system of European
slavery black bodies were sexually exploited and used as material resources for
reproductive purposes the hypersexualized Black identity was formulated to
justify the use of sexual violence. White supremacy created the myth of black
inferiority to justify its rape of African culture and people.
Kidnapped Africans were processed for their new role as slaves through a
system of seasoning, a combination of physical torture, psychological
29


manipulation, and sexual abuse by their captors. Africans were imprisoned in
slave castles where they were stripped, starved branded, chained and kept in
dungeons before being transported to their destinations in the Americas. Slave
castles were located off the West Coast of Africa the primary shipping point for
the Middle Passage. Gore Island, Ghana is the site of one of the most infamous
slave castles Elmira built by Portuguese traders in 1480. Professor Cheo
Tyehimba (1998) discusses his research on West African slave castles in Scarred
Walls of Stone:... The guide pointed out that up to three hundred Africans had
been packed into one small dark room without space to lift an arm or lie down...
next we enter a dungeon where naked women and girls had been hosed down
before the slavers picked which ones they would rape (p. 28).
In the book, Middle Passage: White Ships Black Cargo, Tom Feelings
(1997) illustrates the transformation and denigration of African culture and people
through the transatlantic slave trade with powerful beautifully black and white
paintings and drawings. Feelings artwork evokes the honor, and despair the
African ancestors experienced when they were captured and forced into the
Middle passage. Dr. John Henrick Clark (1997) in an introduction passage
that... £I]t is estimated that thirty to sixty million Africans were subjected to this
horrendous triangular trade system and that only one third-if that-of those people
survived (p.2). Madeline Burnside and Rosemary Robothams Spirits of the
Passage (1997) is a contemporary historical document of the Middle Passage
experience based on the excavation of the Henrietta Marie, the only intact slave
30


ship found off the U.S. coast. Burnside and Robotham cross reference slave ship
logs and records which document numerous accounts of sexual violence
committed against enslaved Africans. Ouladah Equanio an African prince
captured as a young boy and forced to serve on a Jamaican slave ship as a steward.
Equanio managed to compile a journey of his experiences published as The
Interesting Narrative of Ouladah Equanio, or Gustavus Vassa, The African
(1789). According to Andrews et al (1997) it is the most sustained
autobiographical precedent to contemporary treatments of the Middle Passage.
(p.95). Here is an excerpt from Equanios journal describing the brutality of the
crew: I have never seen among any people such instances of cruelty....I have
known them to gratify their brutal passions with females not yet ten years old; and
at times these abominations [are] practiced to such as scandalous excess, that one
of our captains discharged the male and the others on that account (Burnside and
Robotham,1997, p.131).
Rape is a symbolic claim of fascist power, will and desire through sexual
violation. It isnt just embodied in the physical act; its also a violation of the
mind, body, spirit which is perpetrated in stages at many different levels. Rapist
silence, shame and blame their victims into believing that they are co-conspirators
in their sexual abuse. Research on the effects of trauma has found that prolonged
captivity combined with rape creates a sense of disembodiment through feelings
of powerlessness and despair which make the victim vulnerable to the whims of
their captors (Herman, 1997; Sapp et al, 1999; Startling,1998).
31


In the book, Trauma and Recovery, Psychologist Judith Herman (1997)
discusses the psychological impact of prolonged trauma on victims of domestic
and terrorist political violence. According to Herman (1997) the desire for total
control over another person is the total denominator of all forms of
tyranny...totalitarian governments demand confession and political conversion of
their victims... Slaveholders demand gratitude of their slaves (p.76). The
socio-historic processes of slavery its continued effect on notions of Black
identity, and its impact on civil and legal rights parallels the rape process
(Avery,1993; Vaz,1995). When enslaved Africans reached the Americas more
horrors awaited them. Families, friends, associates were marched, auctioned off,
split up, and sent to plantations where they would be used as slaves. The
seasoning process was used to indoctrinate Africans into the slave system. In
captivity Africans were expected to conform to the rules of plantation life. Every
aspect of personal autonomy was taken away from them. They were forbidden to
speak their own languages, use their own names, or adhere to their traditional
cultural and spiritual practices. A map in the book, Africa: Art of a Continent,
(Phillips1998) of the area of West African regions of Mauritania-Cameroon
where most Africans were stolen shows that: there were approximately sixty five
language groups and four kingdoms, all with specific cultural practices (p.9). Dr.
Malecki Akente Professor of African-American history at the University of
Pennsylvania describes what the psychological effect of the seasoning process
might have been like for our African ancestors:
32


When the people got to this side they were so happy because they
didnt believe that anything could be as horrible as the Middle
Passage. When they stepped off those boats they didnt even know
what was waiting for them. It was going to be something much
more horrible than they imagined. The 35-80 day journey from the
continent of Africa was such a transforming psychological
experience, that it literally shook up the psychological system of
Africans. When we got of the boat the first thing they said was
Their still not slaves yet How are we going to make them slaves ?
How do you decenter somebody who is mature, is rooted, has
values and understands the historical experiences of her/his people
and reduce them to a slave? (Pacifica Archives 1997, side 1).
The socio-historic processes of slavery dehumanized blackness and Black
people. In preparation for their new roles as use objects for labor, reproduction
and entertainment, Africans were given a new identity: a slave identity Slaves
were not considered individuals or human beings. The institution of slavery
exploited Black sexuality and objectified Black being (Hill-Collins,1990;
Richardson & Wade,1999). Slaves were bred and used as pornographic objects
for the disposal of the master and anyone else on the plantation under his
jurisdiction (Andrews et al, 1997; Roberts,1997; Rothenberg,1992 ).
It was written into law and public policy that rape, incest, torture or
murder of slaves and blacks were not considered crimes. The law created a model
for the use of sexual violence as a form of racist aggression and as an expression
of power and control. In the case of State of North Carolina vs. Mann, the court
ruled it was not a criminal offense to subject a slave women to cruel and
33


unreasonable battery that a slave was to labor upon a principle of natural duty
(Rothenberg, 1993, p.254).
In the book, Killing the black body: race, reproduction, and the meaning
of liberty, Rugers Law professor Dorothy Roberts (1997) locates the institution of
slavery as the marking point for the development of the hypersexualized Black
identity:
female slaves could be stripped, beaten mutilated, bred and
compelled to toil alongside men. Forcing a slave to have sex
against her will followed the pattern. This lack of protection was
reinforced by the prevailing belief among whites that Black women
could not be raped because they were naturally lascivious
Louisianas rape law explicitly excluded Black women from its
protection...there is not a single reported eighteenth century case in
which a white man was prosecuted for raping a slave. Even if the
criminal code recognized the rape of a slave, the law would have
prevented the victim from testifying in court...evidentiary rule in
most slave holding states prevented Blacks from testifying against
a white person (p.31).
However, there were some incidents where slave women fought back
against their attackers and their cases was bought to court. In the book, Celia: A
Slave, (McLaurin,1997) chronicles the events and subsequent trial of Celia (State
of Missouri vs. Celia Fillel855), who was tried for the murder of her master John
Newcomb. At the time of the trial, Celia was nineteen years old and pregnant by
her master. She claimed that she murdered her master in self defense in
retaliation for years of sexual abuse which had resulted in three pregnancies. Celia
was tried, convicted and sentenced to death.
34


Black men were also subjected to racist, sexist abuse by their white captors
during the Middle Passage and slavery. Young men and boys were raped by
slavers in order to terrify and humiliate them in front of their families and break
their spirit ( Pacifica Archives, 1997). Young Black men were forced to serve on
slaves ships as stewards where they were subjected to sexual abuse by the crew
(Andrews et al, 1997; Burnside & Robotham, 1997). On the plantation they were
primed and used as breeders to sire new stock for the master (Roberts, 1997).
White slave mistresses, frequently abused Black children and adult males (Berlin
et al, 1997; Wade and Richardson; 1998). It became fashionable for them to treat
young Blacks; particularly males as exotic personified pets (Hill-Collins, 1997;
Hemenway, 1980; Tuan, 1984).
Slavery initiated the use of lynching as a terrorist weapon to control and
terrorize the Black community by murdering Black people who refused to
conform to their assigned socially constructed Black identity, (Hill-Collins, 1997;
Thompson, 1990). Although there are many accounts in the literature which
describe forbidden interracial sexual relations between Blacks and Whites as a
pretense for lynching, the informational state apparatus (Althuser,1971) continues
to refute the existence of such relationships (Andrews et al, 1997; Ball, 1998;
Berlin etal ,1997).
Ida B. Wells-Bamett ( 1862-1931) a Black feminist journalist, author,1
ecturer, and anti-lynching crusader, helped to initiate 1921 anti-lynching act.
Subsequent documentation by Wells-Bamett found that a substantial number of
35


post emancipation lynching were of women and children (Andrews et ai 1997;
Thompson, 1990). On numerous occasions she risked her life to record inccidents
of lynching and document them from eyewitness and white newspaper accounts,
which she compiled in three pamphlets: Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its
Phases (1892) A Red Record'. Tabulated Statistics and Alledged Causes of
Lynching in the United States 1892-1895,and Mob Rulejn New Orleans: Robert
Charles and his Fight to the Death 1900 (Andrews et al,1997, p.796)
Lynching has continued well beyond emancipation and the civil rights
organization of the 60s the rise of lynching as a specific race ritual of terror
coincided with the systemic passage of state laws disenfranchising black voters
and decreeing separate but equal facilities...and continued to be a vehicle of
terror...to the drive for political and civil rights through the 1950s,1960,s and
beyond (Andrews et al,1997, p.464). The high tech lynching of Lani Grainier
during her nomination for Assistant Attorney General of Civil Rights and of Anita
Hill during senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence
Thomas are contemporary examples of how socially constructed Black identities
were used to manipulate and subvert texts which challenged white supremacist
power of authority (Katz,1995; Morrison et al, 1992).
In the book, Blood in the Face (1995), Jonathan Ridgeway outlines the rise
of the hate groups through the history of the KKK and their link with national and
international racist terrorist groups. The KKK and their affiliates are powerful
national and international socio-political organizations that have penetrated local
36


power structures. According to Ridgeway (1995) The Posse Comitatus is the
sheriffs branch of the KKK started in the late 1960s in Portland, OR. (p.68).
A 1990-1991 investigation by Daniel Levitas executive director of the Center for
Democratic Renewal interviewed a regional Klan organizer Charles Weatherford
from Blakely, Georgia concluding, he was eager to spill the beans on the fire
chief and his department which was filled with Klansmen (Katz 1995, p.573).
In the 1980s both Louisiana Grand Dragon David Duke, and Ohio white
separatist Lydon LaRouge, had fairly successful political campaigns (Katz, 1995).
David Duke endorsed Ronald Reagans presidential campaign and Clarence
Thomas nomination to the supreme court. (Morrison et al, 1992). In the
international arena groups such as the National Front led by Enoch Powell in
Great Britain and Jean Luc Le Clerc in France advocate racist political platforms
which target dark skinned immigrants and foreign nationals as the cause for
European socio-economic woes.
Inter-racial and intra-racial sexual violence is a core component of KKK
and neo nazi white supremacist ideology. The Southern Poverty Law Center
(SPLC) on-line report which monitors white supremacist activity found that the
new Klan chapters tend to be be younger, and have more non-black minority and
women members, and they often disguise themselves as religious organizations
(Cuny et al, 1999; SPLC, 1997). These individuals are used to infiltrate civil
rights organizations and to entice young people to join and participate in hate
group activities. The young KKK participate in hate activities through, Internet
37


chat rooms, listen to hard-core skinhead music and display Neo-Nazi or KKK
paraphernalia and tattoos, they also circulate racist literature cartoons and comic
strips on high school and college campuses. Propaganda from hate group
literature encourages non-black people of color to insert their racial identity into a
white/dominant power construct (Klanwatch,1998). Emerge, Black Americas
news magazine, runs a monthly column titled
Race Matters which documents incidents of racist violence perpetrated against
African-Americans/Blacks. In a May 1998 Hurd, K. reported, In Miami- Eight
Killigan High School Students five boys, and four girls distributed 2,500 booklets
depicting rape and assault on Black people. Four of the students were white, one
Asian, and four Hispanic (p.24). Skinheads and Neo-Nazi earn bolts a lightning
bolt tattoo when they kill a Black or minority person. In a June 1998 issue it was
reported that: In Los Angeles-skinheads Rich Byrant 21, Randall Rojas 18, and
Jessica Colwell 17, prospecting to become Nazi Lowriders...and seeking to earn
bolts...were charged with killing an African-American, Milton Walker 49. (p.24).
According to historical narrative accounts and research done by scholars of
African-American history and law, many slavemasters fathered children from
slave women. (Ball, 1998; Berlin et al, 1998; McCray, 1998). According to
Roberts (1997): One of Americas first laws concerned the status of children
bom to slave mothers and fathered by white men: a 1662 Virginia statue made
these children slaves (p.23). As a result, the institution of slavery established a
racialized caste system socio-economic privilege based on the sexual exploitation
38


of Black people. Inteiracial sexual unions and their offspring became an
additional base for re-establishing a system of racial representation for
socio-political control (Andrews et al 1997; Katz,1995).
Masters kept their slave children as slaves, sold them passed into the
family as white. Richardson & Wade (1999) discuss how slavemasters used skin
color differences to control slaves: In pamphlets given to slaveholders on how to
manage captives ...[it] was recommended to keep slaves at each others throats
over physical features... to pit the light against the dark (p.72). In the book,
Slaves in the Family (1998), by Edward Ball in the narrative history of his
prominent North Carolina family and their African-American descendants. Ball
recounts how his family sought to repress or deny their Black heritage. Balls
grandfather told him: Slaves are not something we discuss in our family its part
of a dark secret (p.23).
Slavery marked the beginning of the socio-historic Black identity. Racial
identities were created to established socio-political designations and maintain
white supremacist power and control. Black codes, and miscegenation laws
restricted mixed race populations from legally assimilating into mainstream
society. In essay The Social Construction of Race University of Wisconsin Law
professor Ian F. Haney-Lopez (1994) discusses how concepts of race serve to limit
freedom and control socio-economic processes: Human fate still rides upon our
ancestry and appearance characteristics of hair, complexion, and facial feature still
influence whether we are figuratively free or enslaved...race determines are
39


economic prospects...permeates our politics...and twists the conduct of law
enforcement (p. 3).
Racist attitudes towards African-Americans derived from slavery continue
to prevail in contemporary social discourse and law. White jurors, judges and
attorneys tend to reflect racist attitudes in legal decisions of rape and sexual
violence perpetrated against Black victims (Davis, A.,1989; Dusky,1996;
Roberts,1997). In addition, the actions and behaviors of law enforcement and the
community mirror these attitudes impeding upon the legal rights and justice for
Black victims of rape and sexual abuse (Davis,1989; Startling,1998).
In the book, Still unequal: the shameful truth about women and justice in
the U.S., feminist journalist and legal scholar Elaine Dusky (1996) states:
Even when the police are involved there are still barriers to cross:
race, class, the old stereotype that a women shouldnt be there
anyway... According to attorney Lynn Schafer: Black complaints
have a harder time being believed than white regardless of the race
of the rapist Referring to a case in where a Black women accused
a white doctor of raping her, a case where the DNA came back
positive for the doctor...a member of the jury wrote the prosecutor
after his aquital that the jury thought a black women like that might
be flattered by the attentions of a white doctor (p.398).
In the essay Women write patriarchal wrongs: narrative resistance to
rape, Leone Sandra Hankey (1997) states: White men remained privileged to
abuse all women, and Black women remain unprotected from attacks of all men.
Thus, even though 96% of reported rapes are committed by white men 80% of
men serving prisons sentences for rape are Black. So the legal system enforces
40


rape laws when they serve the interests of white supremacy (p.206). In the
essay Civil disobedience and deconstruction, feminist legal scholar and
journalist Drucilla Cornell (1998), uses the Lacanian theory of shame to explain
the positionality of the female rape victim. The plaintiff is put in the position of
having to defend herself against the charges that are made against her. Rather
than charging the defendant, she is the one who becomes charged...she is put on
trial for her sex. (p.151). Cornells Lacanian analogy of shame can also be
applied to African-Americans victims of sexual assault. These victims have to
prove their case beyond racist concepts of Black identity and sexuality which
deem them un-rape-able and unworthy of equal justice under the law (Roberts,
1997; Davis,1989).
Mainstream cultural myths and stereotypes about Black lifestyles, attitudes
and behaviors are constantly reinforced through messages in music, literature,
film, art, which characterize racist sexual violence and the sexual degradation of
Black people as the erotic entertainment and privledge of white supremacy.
(Fanon, 1967; Haley, 1965; Rodiger,1998). Depictions of eroticized racist sexual
violence inspire racist ideology which dehumanizes Black people (Andrews et al,
1997).
One of Billie Holidays signature songs was Strange Fruit a ballad
which became the anthem for the 1941 anti-lynching movement. However, when
she performed the song she was often subjected to racist cat calls and sometimes
violence by angry Whites who objected to the lyrics in the song. According to
41


Margolick, 1998, In one incident a woman chased Holiday into a powder room,
Dont you sing that song again! she screamed as she ripped Holidays gown...In
another incident a white woman in a club shouted at Holiday during a
performance to sing that sexy song about the naked Black bodies swinging in the
trees ( pp.316,318).
In the essay Blaxploitation and the misrepresentation of liberation
Cedric J. Robinson (1998) discusses how Black action films of the 70s and 80s
denigrated images of Black self-definition, appreciation and liberation. Most of
these movies have a violent sexual context in which a powerful beautiful Black
women is sexually denigrated through gang rape and other forms of sexual
violence due to her involvement in radical liberation struggles. Robinson notes
that many of these films featured actresses who had an uncanny resemblance to
Black activist Angela Y. Davis. In The autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm
recalls a conversation he had with a White female pimp about her wealthy white
female clientele: Nearly every woman in her clientele would specify [that they
wanted] a black one [man]; sometimes they would say a a real one meaning black,
no brown Negroes, no red Negroes (Haley,1965, p.124).
Internalized racism is directly related to the struggle, conflict and desire
for socio-economic parity and the quest for individualization and validation.
(Fine,1997; Hill Collins, 1990). In the book Makes me wanna holler Nathan
McCall (1994) discusses some of the horrifying dynamics of rape as an
expression of internalized racist haired played out on Black female bodies. Some
42


gangs in violent sectors of Black urban communities target Black females for
trains (gang rapes). Females, preferably very young girls are lured to a location
under the pretext of socializing, then set up with drugs or alcohol and trained
(ganged raped). Trains are pulled on Black females who dont conform to
stereotypical images of Black womanhood (hooks, 1991) or are new to designated
gang turf:
practically everything was described in abusive terms...on our
grading scale, girls attractiveness was linked closely to her
complexion. Red Bone B....S light skinned black women who look
almost white and white women were considered more
desirable....On rape: different groups of guys set up their trains
(gangbanging)... 1 think few guys thought of it as rape...like
everything else we did it was a macho thing. Using a member of
one of the most vulnerable groups of human beings black
females-it was another way for a guy to show how cold and he
was...I realized we thought we loved sisters but we hated them
because they were black and we were black and on some deeper
level we realized we hated ourselves (pp.39-42)
White supremacy encourages Black people to hate themselves through
sexual degradation. Sexuality is used as a weapon to marginalize Black people
from the general populous by framing inter-racial relationships through white
supremacist paradigms based on myths of forbidden desire and enforcing
controlling sexist intra-racial relationships through sexist-racist stereotypes
(Fanon, 1967; Rodiger, 1998). Black identity and quest for individuality is
sexualized in order to neutralize efforts towards autonomy of expression and
political solidarity (Haley, 1965, hooks, 1981; Morrison et al ,1992).
43


In his autobiography, Malcolm X Haley (1965) made this observation about
repressed Black/White sexual desires based on white supremacist sexual
paradigms: All you had to do was to put a white girl anywhere near the average
black man, and he would respond. The black women also made the white man
light up-but he was slick enough to hide it (p.96).
In the essay Sexuality, schooling and adolescent females; the missing
discourse of desire Fine (1998) talks with Black and Latina girls who share their
views on issues of sexuality and birth control; many seem to feel that they must
sacrifice themselves to build up fragile male egos in order to protect them from
the forces of institutionalized racism. Here is an example from Fines study which
illustrates this point. Deidre states, Girls and women are stronger, we can take
care of ourselves, but boys and men, if they get away from the neighborhood, they
could end up in jail on drugs or dead (p.25) .
In the book Black Feminist Thought Patricia Hill Collins, (1990) quotes a
letter written by a little girl from a public housing complex: My world is full of
people getting raped. People shooting one another...people without jobs who
cant afford to get an education...winos on the streets raping and killing little
girls (p.25). Hatred of Black women is a primary component in the
maintenance of white supremacist hegemony. Denigration of the black
self-identity and community is accomplished by attacking Black women.
According to Roberts (1997): Not only were Black women exiled from the true
44


norm of womanhood [their] maternity was blamed for Black peoples problems
(p.10).
In the essay Perceptions of discrimination in psycho-social functioning,
Bylle Avery (In Cummings et al, 1993) founder and director of the A Black
Womens Health Project in Atlanta, describes the systemic socio-economic
processes of racism as psychic rape: Black women become victims of violence
[psychic rape] at the hands of authorities and the legal system which refuses
protection to women of color from domestic violence, incest, rape and sexual
harassment, gender and race discrimination, lynching and sexual harassment
(p.56).
Images of perfect white womanhood contribute to racailized sexual
violence. Black women are routinely bombarded with symbols of continued
devaluation of black womanhood (Hill-Collins,1990; hooks, 1981; Roberts,
1997). Institutionalized racism perpetuates these images as part of their
epistemology which simultaneously marginalizes and stereotypes Black women,
while upholding white women as the normative value of womanhood
(Hill-Collins,1990; Kaplan,1998).
In the essay Body politics menopause, mastectomy and cosmetic surgery
in films by Rainier, Tom and Onwurah, Kaplan,1997) discusses how:
whiteness is framed as a normative desirable, discourse of assimilation is
conjured up from a white patriarchal position (p.257). The films examined in
45


this essay explore the relationship of self-definition and identity to constructs of
beauty, power or authority put forth by the ruling hegemony.
In the book, Surviving the silence: Black women and rape, by Charlotte
Scott-Pierce (1998) tells the stories of Black women rape and incest survivors. It
a rarity to find non-fictional accounts of rape and sexual abuse written by Black
survivors. Many of this stories are heartbreaking yet riveting in their courage
because on a personal level they describe the devastating emotional effects and
conflicts of sexual violence which are compounded by socio-cultural aspects of
racism and sexism and its imposition on Black identity.
In the essay We do not consent: violence against women in a racist
society, Black feminist scholar and activist Angela Davis (1989) provides a
personal example which illustrates the intertexuality of the Black female rape
experience: I recall an experience I had as a graduate student in San Diego
when a Mend and I found a young Black women, beaten and bloody on the
shoulder of the freeway. She had been raped by several white men and dropped
by the side of the road. When the police found her, they too, raped her and left
here on the freeway barely conscious (p.48).
Language and socio-cultural discourse decriminalize and eroticize sexual
violence against Black people. White supremacy simultaneously obliterate and
appropriate Black identity and culture in order to reduce it into one sign code for
deviant: nigger. Postmodern language and psychoanalytic theory are helpful for
46


describing the lexicon white supremacist ideology linked to identity,
representation, power and control.
The book, Structuralism and post-structuralism for beginners, by Robert
Palmer (1997) provides some helpful guidelines for deconstructing the
intertexuality of binary oppositions located in social discourse and language
winch can be used to analyze white supremacist ideology and racism. Swiss
linguist Ferdinand de Sassures theory claims that: an individual does not have
the power to change a sign in any way once it has been established in the
community (Powell, 1997, p.25). This theory can be applied to the term and
concept of nigger related to the socially constructed Black identity which is a facet
white supremacist ideology and language. According to French post-structualist
Michel Foucault, discourse is not reducible to some power base independent of
language its desire and power in action. (Powell, 1997, p.89). Racist interactions
and perceptions of Black people which reflect the will and desire to define,
control and alliterate Black identity and being are indicative of desire and power
in action (Vaz,1995).
White supremacy and racsit ideology is a subversion of superior inferior
binary oppositions of power and representation and id/ego conflict which have
ruptured into reaction formation, displacement and projection (Freud,1997)
Lacan describes the conflict between the id and the ego: As the desire is the
desire of the Other. (p.81).
47


In the book Black skin white mask (1967) Algerian liberationist and
psychoanalyst Frantz Fanon describes psychological concepts related to racist
oppression, sexual violence and psychosis in the term, Negrophobia-an irrational
phobic fear of Black people as evil combined with sexual desire and revulsion
(p.189). According to Fanon: The archetype of the lowest value is represented
by the Negro in the remotest depth of the European subconscious an inordinate
Black Hollow has been made in which the most amoral impulses and shameful
desires lie dormant. These concepts can be applied to deconstruct incidents of
racist sexual violence (p.190).
Some non-black immigrants and foreign nationals have adapted the
attitude that to be American is to be white (Ignatiev, 1995; Rodiger,1998). They
buy into the idea that in order to gain acceptance into mainstream spheres of
socio-economic power and cultural representation it is advantageous to employ
white supremacist ideologies and principles which label African-American/B lacks
as the Other. So they do everything they can to assimilate through
homogenization by distancing themselves from the Black presence and emulating
the behavior and attitude of the ruling white hegemony ( Morrison et al, 1992;
Rodiger, 1998). White supremacy encourages this type of divisiveness because it
maintains the ruling hegemony (Kaplan, 1997; Ignatiev,1995; Morrison et al,
1992; Rodiger,1998).
In the essay What America Would Be Like Without Blacks, Ralph
Ellision states:... Many whites can look at the social position of blacks and feel
48


that color formed an easy and reliable gauge for determining to what extent one
was not American. Perhaps thats why one of the first epithets that many
European immigrants learned when they got off the boat was nigger-it made them
feel instantly American (InRodiger, 1998, p. 166).
The Oxford dictionary of current English (Thompson, et al, 1998) defines
nigger as: n. offens. black or dark-skinned person [Spanish Negro] (p.600). The
Oxford dictionary goes on to define black as: 2. (Black) of the human group
with dark colored skin esp. African (p.80). However, the Oxford dictionary did
not include this offensive or derogatory names of other ethnic groups in its
compilation of current English. The term nigger has become a universal
socio-political concept which reduces and positions blackness as the
subordinate/Other.
Racism in the form of spoken or unspoken verbal expression towards the
other can manifest itself as a rupture at any given time when the signifier/sign
(Saussure,1997) triggers a response combined with a conceptual definition of an
object. Here are some examples for how the term/concept of nigger has been
applied in such situations. Despite honors and national accolades police officer
Wayne Barton of Boca Raton, Fla has received from some white co-workers who
try to keep him in his place an investigation found that for nearly twenty years
Barton has received racist cartoons and flyers, including a recent article about him
receiving an honoray doctorate, with a photo caption Wayne Barton will become
Wayne Barton, Ph, D. But you are still a nigger (Joiner,1999, p.22).
49


Language is not restricted to speech acts; attitude and behavior also reflect
white supremacist ideologies which can be used to manipulate and control people.
In the essay, Racial alliteracy: white appropriation of black presences University
of Miami psychology professor Dr. Kim Vaz (1995) describes racial aliteracy
as:... As a practice whites engage in when they claim that racial discrimination
racial but diminish its importance or suddenly forget it when confronted with a
Black presence... the consequence of racial alliteracy is that Black people are
displaced in research that is superficially about us, but in the end does little to
illuminate or change racial imbalances (p.33).
In order to create simultaneously create the illusion of cultural diversity
and maintain white supremacy, many institutions select individuals who can
represent an Other or will align themselves with white supremacist ideological
tenets. In his letter to supreme court nominee Clarence Thomas Chief Justice A.
Leon Higginbotham asked Thomas this question about the conservative
legal-political agenda: Other than a few hand picked individuals to be their
favorite colored person, what is it that conservatives of each generation done that
has been of significant benefit for African-Americans, women, or other
minorities (Morrison, et al 1992, p.12).
Yet, mainstream socio-political discourse acknowledges that American
culture has become increasingly violent and polarized along racial lines.
However, many Whites continue to deny that they benefit from white skin
privilege or acknowledge the pervasiveness of white supremacist racist oppression
50


CHAPTER 3
METHODS
This study examines the use and development of a hypersexualized Black
identity and its relationship to perceptions of sexual violence defined through
white supremacist paradigms of racial identity, representation and legal rights
created through the social processes of slavery. The primary theoretical construct
for this study is based on Black Feminist Jurisprudence as a method encompasses
diverse and contradictory meanings (Hill-Collins,1990, p.19).
This is a qualitative multi-disciplinary study. Narrative analysis is crucial
for the deconstruction of white supremacist ideology and racism because it
includes the voice and experience of those marginalized from mainstream
informational systems. Therefore, it is important for Black people to attend to
their experiences through their own voices because white supremacist paradigms
have subverted the true nature and history of Black experience. According to
Reissman (1993), representation of experience, attending to experience and telling
experience should form the basis for qualitative analysis.
The method of analysis incorporates deconstruction, structural and
post-structural linguistics, and psycho-analysis. The texts-materials and resources
used to gather information came from historical documents, tapes and radio
interviews, newspaper reports, court records, magazine articles, journal essays and
statistics. The listening, attending to socio-political and cultural discourse is also
deconstructed within the texts to extract information on the socially
51


constructed hypersexualized Black identity that influences law and public policy.
Two recent sexual violence cases, the Abner Louima police brutality incident and
the Shenice Iverson rape and murder, are profiled to illustrate the impact and
intersectionality of perceptions of race, gender, socio-economics, law and sexual
violence.
Black Feminist Jurisprudence
Black feminist jurisprudence is a theoretical construct based on the
experience and concepts of Black identity and feminism grounded in the history,
struggle and liberation projects of the Civil rights movements of the 60s the
Black power and feminist movements of the 70s and the scholarship and
literature which incorporates Black Feminist Thought by women such as Ida B
Wells-Bamett, Angela Davis, Patricia Wiiliams, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and
Audre Lourde to name a few.
Black feminist jurisprudence has been constructed by Black women. It
combines praxis, political theory and action based on the life experience and
struggle of Black women past and present related to the socio-political processes
of slavery. Black jurisprudence attacks institutionalized racism located in law and
public policy and develops legal strategies to address issues such as
discrimination, sexual abuse, incest and reproductive choice. Political praxis and
Black feminism in action were the inspiration for Bylle Averys Birth Project in
Atlanta and former Planned Parenthood president, Faye Wattleton (1997) who
fought for the right of all women to have reproductive choice and freedom.
52


Deconstruction
Derrida defines deconstruction as: Deconstruction is a political project
and it decenters knowledge systems such as texts, institutions, beliefs and
practices ( Powell,1997, p.28). Black feminist jurisprudence isolates and
exposes the text of racist ideology located in the socio-political discourse, law and
public policy. A Denidain model of deconstruction is used to to analyze
interdependent binary oppositions based on race and gender that are manipulated
to control Black identity, limit human and civil rights and maintain white
supremacist patriarchal power.
White supremacy is based on subversion and domination of the Other.
Black Feminist Jurisprudence examines relationships between white supremacist
definitions of race and gender, Black self-definition and the political struggle for
power and equality. Black feminist jurisprudence subverts the white supremacist
order by developing protective legal strategies to combat racism and
discrimination through litigation, legal scholarship and research. This method of
Black Feminist Jurisprudence praxis can be seen as applying Derrida's theory of
deconstruction where he states that a phase of reversal is needed to subvert the
original hierarchy...eventually leading to a complete play of binary oppositions in
a non-hierachal way (Powell,1997, p.28).
53


Structural and Post structural Linguistics
Linguistics and psychoanalysis are two of the mainstays of Black Critical
Race theory. Structural and post-structural linguistics are helpful tools for
examining the form and function of the racist lexicon and ideology. Racist
ideology coded into the ideological structural apparatus is reflected in a variety
texts: language, talk, discourse, narratives of society and cultural experiences.
Eurocentric language, philosophy and religion frame blackness as an object which
is, undesirable, evil, and less than human; in contrast whiteness is presented as
privileged, powerful and divine (Ani, 1995, StarhawkiiHg?). Coding the
subjugated as an object subverts their identity and shifts them into a subhuman
position. White supremacy created a White/Black binary opposition based on a
social construction of race to subvert power differentials based on human rights
and political representation. In this phase of reversal the object/subject can be
situated as a willing participant or architect of his/her own oppression which
removes the responsibility of the act from the perpetrator ( Derrida ,1997).
The Freudian concepts of reaction formation, displacement and projection
are useful for illustrating racist hatred expressed as sexual violence. In terms of
reaction formation the white mindset Black presenses represent confrontation
with repressed urges which are simaltamously desirable and repulsive. In terms of
projection the white mindset reacts in anger when the object/subject through
appearance, attitude or behavior doesnt conform to the/it Black/nigger subject
position. As a result, the Black presence becomes a repository or frame for the
repressed urges or repulsion, depending upon the degree of racist psychosis
54


intrinsic to an individual, institution, establishment, organization or tradition. In
terms of displacement the racist mindset uses the hypersexualized Black identity
to shift its instinctual drives to the object. In contrast, a politically conscious
Black mindset is aware of the psycho-social functioning of racism and must be
prepared to simultaneously negotiate and combat white supremacist ideologies
and behaviors. W.E.B. Du Bois (In Busia & James,1993) describes this process
as double consciousness: It is a peculiar sensation this double consciousness,
this sense of always looking at ones self through the eyes of others. Of measuring
ones soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One
ever feels his twoness-an American, a Negro. (p.60).
55


CHAPTER 4
CASE STUDIES: WHITE SUPREMACIST
SEXUAL VIOLENCE
The United States has a history of racialized sexual violence and police
brutality. Over the years there have been innumerable accounts of the racist
atrocities perpetrated against Black people by law enforcement or individuals
seeking to assert their white supremacist ideology and power ( Andrews, et al,
1997; Hampton & Fayer, 1995; Rodiger, 1998). However, the forces of white
supremacy continue to ignore or repudiate knowledge and existence of the history
of racist oppression against Black people. The white hegemony avoids taking
responsibility for acts of white supremacist sexual violence through a complex yet
simple system of reaction formation, displacement and projection (Freud, 1997;
Fanon, 1967). White supremacist sexual violence is also used as a vehicle to
funnel unacceptable impulses and repressed sexual urges for Black people (Ani,
1995; Fanon, 1967; Haley, 1965). Racialized law and social discourse positions
and situates the Black subject/victim of racist sexual violence as having provoked
the attack (M. Davis, 1997; Dusky, 1996; Human Rights Watch, 1998; Williams,
1993).
Incidents of police brutality are rampant in Black communities across the
United States. In addition, these incidents run the gamut of gender, age and
socio-economic status (Curry et al, 1998-99; Hurd, K., 1999). Human Rights
Watch (1998) compiled a fourteen-city report which found that there is a national
pattern of police violence linked to race and ethnicity. According to Human
56


Rights Watch (1998): Police abuse remains one of the most serious and divisive
human rights violations in the United States...excessive use of force by police
officers including unjustified shooting, severe beatings, fatal choking, and rough
treatment...police or public officials greet each new report with denials...while the
administrative and criminal systems ...virtually guarantee them impunity (p. 6).
In spite of the many reported incidents of police brutality and even murder linked
to racist facist attitudes and behaviors of law enforcement officials, ignorance and
denial are the prevailing notions and attitudes exhibited by most sectors of
society. The violent racist nature of police brutality against Black people is
subverted and excused by white supremacist law enforcement as eruptions of
stress or officers acting out of defense.
A general pattern of ignorance and denial is exhibited by white
supremacist individuals and institutions when it comes to expressing and exposing
the continued racism entrenched in all levels socio-cultural apparatus (Ani, 1995;
hooks & West, 1991; Vaz, 1995). Black people face what Lyotard would
describe as a crisis of legitimization (Sim,1999) when it comes to exposing
racism in all forms at a structural and ideological level, they must grapple with the
white supremacist paradigm of double-talk and narcissism. They are constantly
told that they must provide evidence that white supremacy exists and impacts their
lives. White supremacy continues to disclaim its covert and overt attitude and
behavior of anti-Black racism which is diametrically opposed to Black
self-identification and freedom.
57


In cases of police brutality Black complainants suffer the same fate as
Black rape victims which is that they must prove their cases beyond racist
precepts of a socially constructed Black identity in which all Black behavior is
linked to criminal pathology. Law enforcement has a history of profiling Black
people as criminals (Andrews et al, 1997; Cuny et al, 1997-2000; Davis et
al,1998; M. Davis,1997). Cases of police brutality against Black victims are
usually ignored by the criminal justice system and victims are vilified as being
responsible for the actions perpetrated against them (Hampton & Fayer, 1995;
Human Rights Watch, 1998). In addition, many cases of police brutality are
disappeared within the legal system. Most cases of police brutality brought
forth by Black victims are ignored unless they involve Black perpetrators and
white victims (Curry et al, 1997-200, Davis et al, 1998).
According to Human Rights Watch (1998), There is often a racial or
ethnic component to police brutality cases in New York.. .African-Americans and
Latinos filed more than 78 percent of complaints the police, while 67 percent of
the subject officers were white...A local television poll found that 81 percent of
Blacks and 73 percent of Latinos believed police brutality is a serious problem in
the city (p.2).
The Abner Louima case is an example of racist sexual violence as police
brutality. Louima 31a legal Haitian immigrant, was arrested in the early morning
hours of August 9,1997 outside a Brooklyn nightclub. According to Louima,
during his arrest he was beaten by officers and taken to the 70th precinct where he
was sexually tortured with a toilet plunger and warned not to tell anyone about the
58


incident (Human Rights Watch, 1998; New York Times, 1998). Statements
given by the police department and attorneys for the primary officers involved
Justin Volpe and Charles Schwartz initially denied Louimas charges. However,
in subsequent statements given by the police to the grand jury disclosed that up to
five police officers were actually involved in the crime. According to a report in
The Village Voice, Goldstein (1997) Officer Justin Volpe told fellow officers at
the 70th percent I had to break a man... No one jumps me and gets away with
it In a New York Times report by Reid (1998) stated," Louima reported four
officers beat him in a police car and two of them tortured him with a stick (toilet
plunger) at the police station (p. 48). A New York Times report by Peterson
(1998) reported that," Officers Rolondo Aleman and Franciso Rosario repeatedly
lied to investigators to avoid being called as state witnesses (p.57).
Here is an account from Human Rights Watch (1998) of the entire incident
which led to the investigation and arrest of the officers involved:
During the trip to the station house, officers allegedly stopped
twice to beat Louima, who was handcuffed. At the 70th Precinct
house, two officers Justin Volpe and Charles Schwartz, allegedly
shouted racial slurs. Volpe shoved a wooden stick (believed to be a
toilet plunger) into Louimas rectum and mouth borrowed gloves
from another officer and walked through the station house with the
wooden stick covered with blood and excrement. Louima was held
in a holding cell for three hours [where] inmates complained about
his bleeding. Eventually, he was taken to the hospital [andjdoctors
confirmed that Louimas serious injuries were consistent with his
allegations; internal organs were ruptured, and his front teeth
broken. For the first three days of his two month hospitalization he
was handcuffed to the bed. (p.l).
59


However, the forces of white supremacy reflected in the New York City
Police Department (NYPD) and socio-cultural discourse that criminalized Black
behavior thereby blaming Louima for the crime due to perceptions that he must
have provoked or intimidated Volpe. A similar line of reasoning was used in the
Rodney King police brutality incident where the white police officers involved in
the crime explained their reactions as a response to Kings PCP drug induced
physical prowess (Curry et al, 1998; Davis et al, 1999; Davis, M., 1997), In New
York city alone Human Rights Watch (1998) found: Only three officers have
been convicted for on-duty killings since 1977,..as in many cities, grand juries
often decline to indict officers accused of brutality related charges, choosing to
believe officers accounts of the events (p.l).
There is always a distinct difference in perceptions of racist attitudes and
behavior expressed from a white supremacist paradigm or those operating from
antiquated formulations of White/Black binary oppositions. Institutionalized
racism is a complex interdependent system that is maintained by white
supremacist ideology which subverts the realities of racism as being formulated
and driven solely from Black/white socio-cultural conflict Radical liberationist
paradigms broaden the deconstruction of racism to include all binary oppositions
that function to oppression and subvert identity, representation and human rights,
White supremacy isnt committed to ending institutionalized racism because it
would destroy its structural apparatus and power. Therefore, incidents of racist
violence and racism need to be deformed and decontexualized to fit within white
supremacist ideology (Ani,1985, Fanon,1967; Haley, 1965; Rodiger, 1998).
60


In New York city minority communities are not as socio-politically
polarized by inter-group racism as other communities of color, like those in the
Southwest particularly California and the Midwest where non-Black minorities
tend to join forces with white supremacist conservative socio-political agendas
(Curry et al, 1998; Morrision et al, 1992). On the East coast, minority
communities particularly the African-American and Latino communities have
been working with other progressive human rights advocates to fight against
police brutality and racism. They have formed local and national coalitions which
address issues of police brutality and government corruption in minority
communities (Human Rights Watch, 1998; Stolen Lives, 1998). Groups such as
the Stolen Rights Project and the Conference on Police Brutality have generated a
variety of conferences and workshops to develop strategies such as police watch
groups, legal advise and counsel, papers and letter writing campaigns, to create
methodology to combat incidents of racist police brutality.
For example, on October 1,1998 The Stolen Lives Project, a national
grass-roots political organization, elected to have their annual national meeting in
San Francisco in order to broaden public awareness to increasing incidents of
police brutality against all communities of color. On October the 22,1998 the
annual convention had a rally to protest police brutality which genrated a victims
assistance fund for survivors of police brutality and their families.
Regardless of someones race, class, gender or socio-economic
circumstances rape is a horrible crime for anyone to have to endure. Information
on rape and sexual abuse continues to be underreported and disappeared, clear
61


updated information and specific statistics which includes African-American or
people of color is very difficult to find. Studies by primarily feminists of color,
show that mainstream feminist research and information on rape and sexual abuse
either dont include Black women (Startling, 1998), add them as an after-thought,
(Davis,1989) or present fabricated statistics which support myths related the
hypersexualized Black identity and Negrophobia (hook, 1991; Fanon,1996) that
portray rape as Black males perpetrating on White females. The court of law
continues to frame the rape of Black women as oversexed females who sexual
expose themselves for male attention (Dusky, 1996; Hill-Collins,1990; Roberts,
1997).
Research and discussions of rape and sexual violence seldom focus on
Black womens experiences ( Pierce-Baker, 1998; Startling, 1998). However
careful examination of statistical evidence reveals that Black women and children
are more often victims of sexual violence than White women. Research by
Startling (1998) concludes, One out of every three African-American women
will be the victim of a rape...many victims elect to keep quiet and feel guilt about
the incident and children are most often victims...[ In addition] including
socio-economic factors the number of Black women is almost certainly
higher....one in five white women are raped after age 18, but for Black women the
ratio jumps to one in four (p.143 ).
Until recently, most research and writing on rape and sexual violence in
the Black community focused solely on criminal perspectives and to statistical
reports pertaining to White on Black rape incidents (Roberts, 1997). White
62


researchers tend to ignore socio-cultural relationships and experiences influenced
by socio-political processes of slavery analogous to institutionalized racism
psychic rape which compounds the trauma of sexual violence for
African-American victims (Avery, 1993; Davis, 1989; Hill-Collins, 1990 ).
Charlotte Pierce-Baker the author of Surviving the Silence (1998) was
repeatedly raped by two attackers while her husband and small son were bound
and gagged in another room. In the narrative of her rape experience she recounts
how she had to process through a series of complex feelings. Many of her
feelings reflected the psychic rape of dealing with institutionalized racism and the
trauma and horror of the rape experience. In her quest for justice she dealt with a
racist insensitive criminal justice system, post traumatic stress syndrome from
memories of her attack and internalized racism. Pierce also points out that her
family was relatively new to the neighborhood and unlike other residents had a
higher socio-economic and educational background which she felt aggravated and
angered her attackers.
Many Black victims of rape and sexual abuse are to afraid or ashamed to
report the crime to the authorities because the attackers are members of their
family or community, and they internalize feelings of rage and shame by blaming
themselves for the attack (Starling, 1998; Pierce-Baker, 1998). According to Hill
Collins (1990) Black women are less likely to report rapes, less likely to have
their cases come to trial, have the trials result in convictions...less likely to seek
counseling and other support services...[In addition] they are victimized again by
family members, community residents., and criminal justice systems which
63


somehow believe that rape victims are responsible for their own victimization
(pp.178-179).
Research from The National Victims Center (1992) and the Majority Staff
of the Senate Judiciary Committee MSJC (1993) supports Pierce and Hill-Collins
statements. 78% of rape victims know the attacker. Only 16% of rapes are
reported to the police. In a victims survey...43% thought nothing would be done,
27% felt it was a private matter,12% were afraid of police response, 12% said it
was not important enough. Approximately 1-10 rapes reported to the police result
in time served in prison: 1 in 100 rapes (including those that go unreported) is
sentenced to more than one year in prison...In addition; 98% of rape victims
never see their attacker caught, tried or imprisoned, and 54% of all rape
prosecutions are either dismissed before trial or result in an aquital.
The Sherrice Iverson case is an example of a racist sex hate crime. These
statistics from the US Department of Justice (1996) can be applied to the legal
decision in the Sherrice Iverson case. Three in ten child victimizers reported that
they committed their crimes against multiple victims. While nearly 70% of those
serving time for violent crimes against children were whites [but] accounted for
40% of those imprisoned for violent crimes against adults 10% of violent
offenders with child victims received life or death sentences and the average
prison term was 11 years, somewhat shorter sentences than those with adult
(Dept of Justice, 1996, p.l).
Under Nevada law Cash could not charged as an accomplice, in spite of
the fact that in subsequent testimony to the grand jury he admitted he had
64


participated in the crime. Both Cash and Strohmeyer admitted that they routinely
participated in similar racist sexual activities. Family, Mends and acquaintances
of both individuals coiroborated these statements but denied or refused to take a
moral stance or responsibility for Cash or Strohmeyers actions. Moreover, with
the exception of the Las Vegas Review Journal (RJ on-line), media coverage of
the crime decontexualized the racist aspect and sexual nature of the Sherrice
Iverson rape and murder case. No effort was made to racialize the criminal acts of
the defendant Strohmeyer and Cash, and no mention was made of their family and
Mends white supremacist ideologies.
Strohmeyer, Cash and their Mends often made racist remarks about Black
people and lead defense attorney Leslie Abrahamson put a gag order against the
Las Vegas Review Journal to suppress this information from being revealed in the
press ( RJ Review on line, 1998). Perceptions leaned toward framing the nature
of the crime as a isolated psychotic rupture indicative of a distorted mind (Jeremy
Strohmeyer) altered by drug addiction and poor little rich boy angst Given the
history of law enforcement which tends to frame Black people as pathologically
criminal, if Cash and Strohmeyer would have been Black more than likely both of
them would have been charged for the crime.
The Sherrice Iverson case is an example of racist hatred expressed in an
act of rape and murder. To this date the defense, David cash Jr. and Jeremy
Strohmeyer continue to deny the gravity of their acts. Strohmeyer has asked for a
re-trial claiming that his attorney Leslie Abramson misrepresented him and that
Cash committed the crime. On May 25,1997, the dead body of an
65


African-American child, seven year old Sherrice Iversons body was propped up
on a toilet in the La Palma casino womens bathroom of a Primm, NV casino.
Jeremy Strohmeyer, 18 was convicted on August 1,1997 on one charge of
murder, first degree kidnapping and two counts of sexual assault-once with his
penis and once with his fingers-with a minor resulting in substantial bodily harm.
He was convicted and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences without
parole, he is currently appealing this sentence (RJ on-line, 1998).
Gruesome details of this crime were censored and not fully reported by
most segments of the media. However, court documents, police reports and
Strohmeyers confession reveal the racist ideology embedded in the language,
attitudes and behaviors of the litigants, attorneys and law enforcement involved in
this case. Strohmeyer and Cashs criminal behavior and lack of moral reasoning
not racialized as it would have been for Black defendants. It has been overlooked
that the callous indifference by their family and friends over the nature of the
crime is an expression of racist ideology that views sexual violence against Black
people as white supremacist privilege and entertainment.
Subsequent events leading to the investigation and trial documented that
both Strohmeyer and Cash had a history of engaging in racist pornographic
activities. They would terrorize Black prostitutes in a game they called whore
dragging Black kabukis, and spent hours on the Internet watching child
pornography which showed little girls having sex with men. Strohmeyer often
told friends that he fantasized about having sex with a five or six year old child.
His victim Sherrice Iverson had just turned seven years old (RJ on-line, 1998).
66


A Las Vegas Review report titled, Jury wont here racial slur made by
Strohmeyer revealed that evidence complied by Assistant District Attorney
Peggy Lean found that aggravating circumstances, racial slurs made by the
defendant and tape from surveillance video would suggest that Sherrice Iverson
was targeted because she was Black. However, defense attorney Leslie
Abrahamson contested that: [The child] Iverson enticed Strohmeyer by
involving him in a video game she was playing with another little boy (RJ
on-line, July 2,1998, p.2of3).
Another Las Vegas Review report titled Killers friends knew about
slaying, did nothing revealed that Cash and Strohmeyers friends knew about the
crime as well as the gruesome details but chose not to report it: Until the day
after his arrest, none of the teenage confidants told anyone, what they knew not
the police, adults, their parent, anyone (RJ on-line, September 10,1998, p.2 of
3). David Trujillo made this statement about his reaction to what Strohmeyer had
told him: I just kinda really just ,uh, didnt even pay attention to it. I like, oh
well, it was no big deal, I guess... and one more thing Jeremy seemed to kinda
like, not necessarily to be a racist person, but he would make off-color remarks
about African-American and Black people (RJ on-line September 10,1998, p. 3
of 3). However in subsequent testimony before the grand jury Trujillo testified
that Strohmeyer had told him: I killed that little nigger. Another friend Jordan
Wheeler testified that Strohmeyer told him in reference to the crime and Sherrice
Iverson: [Tjheres one less nigger in the world {RJ on-line, December,
17,1998, p.2 of 4).
67


Initially Cash gave a different version to investigators involving the events
which downplayed his complicity in the crime. Jeremy Phillips 21 who contacted
the police about the crime on May 28th told investigators: I dont think what he
(Cash) told you guys might be the same thing that hes telling me (.RJ
on-line,1998, p.l). Phillips claimed that Cash told him he watched Jeremy
Strohmeyer sexually assault Sherrice with his finger and discussed with
Strohmeyer afterward if he was able to have sex and whether the child was
sexually excited {RJ-online,1998, p.1-2). According to the Las Vegas Review
Journal Cash had told investigators:
I looked over the stall and saw Jeremy restraining Sherrice into a
stall against her will. I was tapping him on the head to get his
attention telling him (Strohmeyer) to let go, trying to get him out of
the restroom when he didnt respond I left However, in
subsequent grand jury testimony Cash said: [A] few minutes later
Strohmeyer looked at me directly and said I killed her he
fingered her she bled out of the vagina...he strangled her...snapped
her neck twice, and probed he up on the toilet set with her hands
between her butt ( RJ on-line, 1998, p.2 of 4).
In a television interview given to 60 minutes Cash said: [I] saw
Strohmeyer drag Iverson into the restroom and restrain her muffling her screams
and heard him threaten her life ...but I chose not to intervene because I thought she
would survive (RJ on-line, September 25,1998, p. 1 of 2). To this date, Cash
has shown no remorse for the crime and has yet to experience any legal
repercussions or mass social outcry against his actions and behavior.
Strohmeyers defense team has given carefully worded statements distancing their
client from allegations of racism connected to the crime. The attitudes and
68


behaviors of the litigants, family and supporters of David Cash and Jeremy
Stroymeyer exhibit the general attitude and behavior of indifference expressed by
most of society regarding criminal acts of racist violence committed against Black
people.
Trial documents and the police reports reveal a tangled web of delayed
reporting, conflicting testimony on the part of both Cash and Strohmeyer, as well
as gag orders from the Strohmeyer defense team. The Las Vegas Journal on-line
reported details about the nature of the crime and the participation of both Cash
and Strohmeyer which were downplayed or ignored in other media accounts. The
family of the child victim and murder were portrayed in different lights. Cash and
Strohmeyer come from white wealthy prominent families in the Long Beach,
California area, Sherrice Iversons mother is a working class Black female, who
works two jobs to help support her children and retired disabled husband.
Strohmeyer was depicted as a troubled teen, who liked to do weird things
to have fun. Media accounts attempted to portray his mother as being under a lot
of pressure due to the demands of her career, and therefore didnt have the time to
know what was going on with her children. During the course of the trial
Strohmeyers father expressed contempt for the Iverson family and showed no
remorse or concern for their suffering.
In contrast, various press reports released statements by Strohmeyers
defense team which framed Sherrices father Leroy Iverson as a drunken money
grubbing malcontent, seeking financial compensation for his daughters murder
69


( RJ on-line; 1998; NPR, 1998). Socio-cultural discourse and some media reports
other than the Las Vegas Review Journal have attempted to frame Yollanda
Manual, Sherrices mother as an irresponsible Black mother who used the casino
as a baby-sitter for her children. However, its common knowledge that most Las
Vegas casinos developed the strategy of providing in-house child care in order to
entice parents to gamble in their casinos.
To this date Yolanda Manual is still petitioning to get twenty-thousand
signatures to urge prosecutors to charge David Cash Jr. as an accessory to the
killing and sexual assault of her daughter. She is lobbying Nevada lawmakers to
enact Sherrices Law which will make it a crime for an adult to not report a
sexual assault of a child. She has set up a website for this titled the Sherrice
Iverson Justice Fund {RJ on-line,1998).
Even after it was reported that he was involved in the crime Cash was still
admitted to the University of California at Berkley was defended by friends and
school officials, who said he came from a good family and bad a 3.95 GPA {RJ
on-line, 1998, p. 1 of 1). In regards to the charges, Nevada District Attorney
Stewart Bell maintained: It is not illegal in Nevada to witness a crime and not do
anything about it....while it (the crime) gets more offensive as it goes along, it still
doesnt make it a crime if he witnessed the whole scenario {RJ-online,
September 17,1998 p.lof 2).
The University of California at Berkeley extended a gesture of sympathy
while simaltamously distancing themselves from Cash alleged criminal activities:
the student senate at the University of California at Berkley voted to donate
70


$1000 to help Yolanda Manuel the mother of Shemce Iverson...School
Chancellor Robert Berdhal said that the University would not take any action
against Cash because he has not been charged with a crime or violated any
campus laws {RJ on-line, 1998, p.3).
One of the most disturbing aspects of this crime concerns the attitudes
exhibited by the female friends and classmates of Strohmeyer who knew about the
details of the crime and the history his racist pornographic activities. In a Las
Vegas Journal report titled Slaying of a child continuing coverage 1998 stories,
former Strohmeyer girlfriend Helen Yanez is pictured sporting a large tattoo with
the name Jeremy to show her support for Strohmeyer during the trial. She told
reporters: 1 think you guys (the media) ought to start out giving him the benefit
of the doubt Classmate, Haley Allstadt told reporters: The Jeremy I knew was
going to graduate with honors {RJ on-line, 1998).
The glib remarks made by these young women reveals the depth of their
complacence about the nature of this crime. It also reveals how women can be
co-conspirators in their own or others sexist racist oppression. Yanezs statement
and behavior is particularly disturbing given the fact that she is a young woman of
color and that in another place and time she or another female in her family could
have suffered the same fate as Sherrice Iverson. Testimony provided in the court
documents of the Sherrice Iverson trial reveals that there was a similar pattern of
apathy about the nature and circumstance of Sherrice Iversons rape and murder
expressed by the friends of both Cash and Stroyhmeyer, many of whom were
Hispanic ( RJ on-line, 1998).
71


Accounts from the Abner Louima and Sherrice Iverson case suggest that
there is a pattern of racialized law and justice linked to the socially constructed
hypersexualized Black identity. Socio-political processes and relationships are
influenced by racial ideology that defines the degree of human rights and justice
given to a socially constructed subject. Its clear from reading theses accounts that
discourse also functions as a praxis for racialized socio-political ideology and law.
72


CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSION
Racism against African-Americans continues to be pervasive in the private
and public sectors of education, housing, employment and social services. The
decline of African-American enrollment and retention in colleges and universities,
redlining in housing, on the job harassment and discrimination in hiring processes
and promotions, racist encounters with law enforcement are examples of
institutionalized racism that limits Black freedom and representation.
From The Emancipation Proclamation and subsequent legislation to the
1964 Civil Rights Act and affirmative-action, legislation has done little to remedy
racist injustices codified in law and public policy. Justice Leon A. Higginbotham,
prominent Black attorney for the Civil Rights movement stated in a December 15,
1998 National Public Radio (NPR) interview that: Major gains of the civil rights
movement made in the 50s, 60s and 70s have been undone by the courts.
Proposition 209 and reverse discrimination cases such as Bakke vs. University of
California at Davis, have statistically positioned whites and other minority groups
to benefit at the expense of African Americans from affirmative action legislation.
(Curry, 1999; Katz, 1995; Morrision et al,1992; Taylor, 1998). For example, an
affirmative action website (2000) reports, Boalt Law School in Berkeley,
California had one Black student out of 270 in its 1997 freshman class. Black
applicants to the university system fell 8.2
73


percent...[at] the University of Texas Law School enrollment from Black students
dropped 43 percent in one year, and only four Black and twenty six Hispanic
students are among the 468 students in the freshman program (p. 2 of 4).
Post modem racism expresses white supremacist ideology in
coded language and cloaked behavior. Conservative and right-wing
political organizations use coded language to mask their racist ideologies
and political agendas so they can draw more people into their ranks
(Curry, 1999; Katz, 1995; Morrison et al, 1992; SPLC, 1998). George
Curry editor of Emerge Black Americas news magazine, notes in one of
his Editors notes columns, how conservatives often cloak their political
agendas by framing them with liberal terminology:
Modem day segregationist groups are more sophisticated. Instead
of acknowledging their strident opposition to civil rights they claim
they are pro-civil rights theyve misnamed their organizations in
order to hood wink the public [by using] names such as the
American Civil Rights Coalition, The Center for Equal
Opportunity and the Institute of Justice. These groups are not for
civil rights and justice...they attack affirmative action in three basic
area: higher education, employment and government contracting. If
successful right-wingers will essentially wipe out the Black
middle class. This is the time to stand tall and not run away from
right-wing extremists Black or White (November, 1999, p.l).
The lack of quality grade school and high school education, clean safe
affordable housing, transportation and health care aggravates circumstances which
can led to poverty, crime, suicide, teen pregnancy, AID/HIV and drug abuse. As a
result, in many sectors of the Black urban community the prison industrial
complex has replaced the plantation for subjugation and control of Black people
74


(Davis et al, 1998). Corporations and prison privatization are profiting from the
prison industrial complex: AT & T, Sprint, Victorias Secret, Chevron and TWA
use and profit from prison labor.
Perceptions and concepts of Black identity continue influence the quality
and characteristic of relationships which are integral to socio-economic growth
and survival. For most Black people daily activities or socializing can turn into
mild to life threatening encounters with white supremacist racist hatred. The
experiences of Abner Louima and Shenice Iverson are deadly examples of white
supremacist racist hatred in action.
It is imperative to maintain Civil Rights and affirmative action legislation
to keep the door of equal opportunity and justice open. Individuals and
institutions operating from a white mind set continue to deny the existence of
racism or that they harbor and exhibit racist attitudes towards Black people. Katz
(1995) illustrates this process:
Despite changes in the law and opening of opportunities, white
attitudes have not changed. Marcus Allen an investment broker in
Manhattan, found a more subtler racism from what his parents and
grandparents experienced. Its inflection, body language, its all the
nuances that say your not welcome here...My world is a bigger
place it doesnt always welcome but its bigger and I like that, even
with all the baggage that comes with it (p.689),
When Black people find themselves in situations where they elect or are
forced to confront white supremacist ideologies, their perceptions and experiences
are questioned (Williams, 1993; Vaz,1995). In many respects, combating
institutionalized racism constitutes a reiteration of the psychic rape experience
75


which parallels the psychological and physical abuse suffered by the African
ancestors during the Middle Passage and slavery.
In the introduction of the book Spirits of the Passage, Cornell West (1997)
states: The American govemment-the mouthpiece of the American people has
not even acknowledged the impact of slavery...the dominant American tradition of
myopic denial evasion and avoidance of its root paradox still encourages others to
turn its back on the spirits of the Africans who suffered, unacknowledged, during
and after the Middle passage and the spirits of their ancestors (p. 10).
Popular culture and discourse continue to generate racist ideology about
Black people and their experiences, (hooks, 1991; Morrison, et al, 1992).
Individuals and institutions operating from a white mind-set situate their
relationships on racist stereotypes and White/master Black/slave dominant/subject
positions (Ani,1995; Hill-Collins, 1990). Power and privilege are represented by
the white subject position. White supremacist social order positions blackness as
the subordinate. Both positions are maintained by reinforcing controlling myths
and stereotypes of Black appearance, attitude and behavior based on socially
contracted white supremacist paradigms.
Many Black people have internalized the controlling racist myths and
stereotypes of white supremacy by defining them as Black cultural expression
(Andrews, et al, 1997; Fanon, 1967). This attitude and behavior are reflected in
self imposed ghetto mentality and the colonized mind-set which limits or destroys
Black self-definition, expression and freedom (Haley, 1965; Hill-Collins,1990;
McCall,1994; Morrison et al 1992). Its a radical act of will and consciousness
76


on the part of African-American/Blacks to refuse to conform to racist stereotypes
which define their lives and experience through imposed or self-imposed white
supremacist paradigms of appearance and expression. A non-conformist Black
presence subverts white supremacys imagined dominant race subject position.
Self-definition is a crucial for deconstructing reductionist white supremacist
paradigms of race and representation which limit Black self-expression and
freedom (Andrews, et al, 1997; Hill-Collins, 1990; Morrison et al, 1992).
Recognition of African-American ethnic-heritage beyond the narrow
confines of white paradigms of racial identification is critical for dismantling
white supremacy. Because of the legacy of slavery and the nature of human
relationships many Blacks and Whites have recognized or unrecognized
multi-ethnic heritiages (Forbes, 1993; Katz, 1986). Its essential that
African-Americans and others realize that identity, human rights and expression
should not be defined by skin color or controlled by imposed socio-cultural
paradigms. Andrews et al (1997) note, African-Americans are socio-historic
products, not bound to each other exclusively by racial and biological
commonalties, but molded instead by the consequences of slavery, emancipation
and betrayal (p.379).
Basic genetic theory illustrates that variations of color, texture, features
and physical characteristics are phenotypic expressions non-exclusive to fixed
definitive categories or appearances (Young, 1997). Until people are willing to
accept this reality, the white hegemony will continue to use dominant subjugate
binary oppositions based on social constructions of race to maintain its power.
77


Most white people are not committed to eliminating white supremacy because it
would eliminate white skin privilege and authority which could possibly lead to a
radical reconfiguration of the established social hierarchy ( Andrews et al, 1997;
Morrison et al, 1992; Rodiger, 1998).
However, there are some individuals and educational institutions who
appear to be doing research and writing that deconstruct socio-political concepts
of whiteness manipulated by the white hegemony to maintain a power and control.
(Ignatiev, 1995; Rodiger, 1998). For example, The New School for Social
Science and Research in New York and the California Institute of Integral Studies
in San Francisco offer graduate courses and research in Critical White Studies
which is a form of Critical Race Theory that deconstructs notions of whiteness
analogous to power, privilege and representation.
However, some Critical White Theorists spin theories about white racism
which do little or nothing to actively address or dismantle white racist oppression.
They are not actively engaged in activities which address or combat anti-Black
racism or have never established relationships with Black people beyond objects
of social research or personal curiosity (hooks & West, 1991; Morrison et al,
1992). The white hegemony has a history of appropriating and subverting Black
cultural expressions and liberationist theories to maintain power and control over
Black individuals and the community (Andrews et al, 1997; Davis, 1989; Haley,
1965). In some instances the pedagogy has used Critical White Studies to
promote white supremacist ideology cloaked as liberal social theory which
78


pathologizes Black life and experience (hooks & West, 1991; NAWE, 1999;
WPSA, 1999).
Some postmodern research has found it advantageous to use diversity for
profit and personal recognition at the expense of Black culture and people. In this
conservative era Black scholars are finding it more difficult to secure financial
resources to further their education or fund their projects. Many research
organizations and educational institutions would rather give funding to a
non-Black researcher or project to do studies on African-American/ Black people
(African Summit, 1999; Vaz, 1995). Across the country, universities and grant
organizations have Ethnic Studies depts and research projects about
African/American/Black culture and history without Black faculty or researchers
on their staff ( Pacifica Archives, 1997; West, 1997).
Therefore, it is critical that Black scholars monitor and critic Critical
White Study research and writing to expose hidden racist agendas (hooks, &
West, 1991). Black scholars and those who are committed to eliminating racism
and sexism need to do research and writing that speaks to the mutli-complexity of
their experiences and identities in order to develop a workable theoretical
framework and praxis to contravene and expose white supremacist oppression.
79


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