Monday, April 03, 2006

Think the Alleged Rapists at Duke Bought into the “Oversexed Black Woman” Image?

Thanks AREA25 for sending me this and the preceding article.

Commentary: Think the Alleged Rapists at Duke Bought
into the “Oversexed Black Woman” Image?
By: Gregory Kane, Date: Thursday,
March 30, 2006

Were these a bunch of white guys looking for a
real-life ‘make me feel good’ moment from a black

Consider this Part Two of last week’s column, in which
I suggested that it’s high time black folks pull
Hollywood filmmakers up for their persistence in
perpetuating the oversexed black woman stereotype. I
suspected when I wrote the piece that such
stereotyping might have some extremely bad real-life

Now, courtesy of Duke University’s lacrosse team, we
all know how bad.

At least three members of Duke’s lacrosse team have
been accused of raping, beating and attempting to
strangle a black dancer at a party on March 13. The
woman is also a student at North Carolina Central

According to several news stories, the players invited
two women to dance at the party, in which underage
drinking figured prominently (Booze isn’t called
“ignorant oil” for nothing.). The alleged victim and
another black woman went to dance at what they thought
was a bachelor party for five men. The two left after
they saw “dozens” of men and the party took a rowdy
turn, but one player apologized and convinced them to

It was after the women returned that the victim
alleges three players dragged her into a bathroom and
raped and sodomized her. Forty-six of the 47 members
of Duke’s lacrosse team submitted DNA samples to
police. The 47th player is the lone black member of
the team, who didn’t fit the description of the

Joe Alleva, the athletic director at Duke, said the
players deny all the charges. Even if that’s true,
this incident presents all sorts of disturbing

Why did a bunch of white guys feel it was necessary to
hire two black exotic dancers for their booze-a-thon?
I’m sure there are white exotic dancers in Durham,
N.C. Did these guys watch “Monster’s Ball” and
overdose on Halle Berry’s “make me feel good” moment
once too often?

Let’s assume they simply hired two female exotic
dancers and didn’t know the race of either until they
arrived at the party. How, then, do we account for
the women being subjected to racial slurs, as one told
the Raleigh News and Observer last week?

This was clearly a case in which, at best, a bunch of
white guys deliberately set out to degrade and demean
two black women. And black folks should be justifiably

Now here’s the hardest question of all: Don’t some
black men degrade and demean black women just as much
as those Duke lacrosse players allegedly did?

You know the ones I’m talking about. Some rappers and
their endless stream of videos depicting black women
doing exactly what the exotic dancers at that party
near the campus of Duke University were doing: Shaking
it fast and dropping it like it was hot. And the irony
is we¹re usually seeing a bunch of rappers who look
like they got beat down with both ends of the ugly
stick surrounded by gorgeous women.

Perhaps the most notorious of those videos is Nelly’s
“Tip Drill.” When Nelly was invited to Spelman College
a while back, some sisters there felt compelled to
uninvite him. They didn’t appreciate that “Tip Drill”
video. Change the race of the guys in Nelly’s “Tip
Drill” video from black to white, and you’d probably
have a scene similar to what went on at that party,
given the best-case scenario in which no rape

Nelly’s defense of “Tip Drill” is that the video was
entertainment. The sisters at Spelman would probably
tell him that’s not the point. What is the point is
that the nearly butt-naked, scandalous hoochies
depicted in “Tip Drill” aren’t who most black women

Black women are the ones graduating from college more
frequently than black men. If those black women happen
to be enrolled at Vanderbilt University in Nashville,
Tenn., then they’re also the group on that campus with
the highest grade point average.

Black women are the ones earning, on average, more
than their white female counterparts with comparable
educations. In Baltimore, black women are the ones who
hold three of the city’s top four elective offices.

Black women are doctors, lawyers, engineers, judges,
entrepreneurs, journalists, editors, legislators and
administrators. It’s time Hollywood got that. It’s
time those horny booze hounds otherwise known as Duke
University’s lacrosse team got that.

And it’s time black men got that.

Text Of Professor Baker's Letter To Duke

Text Of Professor Baker's Letter To Duke
POSTED: 12:29 pm EDT April 3, 2006
March 29, 2006

Awaiting the Restoration of Confidence:

A Letter to the Duke University Administration

Television screens tuned in to MSNBC on the morning of
March 29, 2006, broadcast a headline in bold red: DUKE
RAPE? At the bottom right corner of the front page of
The New York Times on the same day was an article
about the rape allegations roiling Duke University.
How is a Duke community citizen to respond to such a
national embarrassment from under the cloud of a
"culture of silence" that seeks to protect white,
male, athletic violence and which apparently prevents
all university citizens from even surveying the known
facts? How can one begin to answer the cardinal
question: What have Duke and its leadership done to
address this horrific, racist incident alleged to have
occurred in a university-owned property in the
presence of members of one of its athletic teams?

The alleged crimes of rape, sodomy and strangulation
of a black woman at a party populated in some measure
by the Duke lacrosse team reportedly occurred on March
13. University administrators knew about and had begun
to respond internally within twenty-four hours
following the incident. But Duke University citizens
had no public word from our university leadership
until President Richard Brodhead called a press
conference on March 28. Two weeks of silent
protectionism left all of us vulnerably ignorant of
the facts. Receiving e-mails and telephone calls of
concern from friends nationally and internationally,
we have been deeply embarrassed by the silence that
seems to surround this white, male athletic team's
racist assaults (by words, certainly -- deeds,
possibly) in our community.

It is virtually inconceivable that representatives of
Duke University's Athletic Department would allow its
lacrosse team to engage in regular underage drinking
and out-of-control bacchanalia. It is difficult to
imagine a competently managed corporate setting in
which such behavior would be tolerated (and swept
under the rug), or where such a "team" would survive
for more than a day before being tossed out on its
ears by security. Moreover, in a forthrightly ethical
setting with an avowed commitment to life-enhancing
citizenship, such a violent and irresponsible group
would scarcely be spirited away, or sheltered under
the protection of pious sentiments such as
"deplorable" -- a judgment that reminds us of Miss
Opehlia in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin,
saying that slavery was "perfectly horrible." Such
timorous piety and sentimental legalism, in the
opinion of the author James Baldwin, constitutes
duck-and-cover cowardice of the first order.

There is no rush to judgment here about the crime --
neither the violent racial epithets reported in a 911
call to Durham police, nor the harms to body and soul
allegedly perpetrated by white males at 610 Buchanan
Boulevard. But there is a clear urgency about the
erosion of any felt sense of confidence or safety for
the rest of us who live and work at Duke University.
The lacrosse team -- 15 of whom have faced misdemeanor
charges for drunken misbehavior in the past three
years -- may well feel they can claim innocence and
sport their disgraced jerseys on campus, safe under
the cover of silent whiteness. But where is the black
woman who their violence and raucous witness injured
for life? Will she ever sleep well again? And when
will the others assaulted by racist epithets while
passing 610 Buchanan ever forget that dark moment
brought on them by a group of drunken Duke boys?
Young, white, violent, drunken men among us --
implicitly boasted by our athletic directors and
administrators -- have injured lives. There is
scarcely any shame more egregious than one that wraps
itself in the pious sentimentalism of liberal rhetoric
as though such a wrap really constituted moral and
ethical action.

Duke University's higher administration has engaged in
precisely such a tepid and pious legalism with respect
to the disaster of recent days: the actual harm to the
body, soul, mind and spirit of black women who were in
the company of Duke University lacrosse team members
as far as any of us know. All of Duke athletics has
now been drawn into the seamy domains of Colorado
football and other college and university blind-eying
of male athletes, veritably given license to rape,
maraud, deploy hate speech and feel proud of
themselves in the bargain.

Many citizens have weighed in, and one hopes all
departments, programs and concerned members of our
university community will speak out forcefully for
swift and considered corrective action.

But of course, it is not exclusively our academic
administration that seems to have refused decisive and
meaningful action. The most deafening silence -- and,
quite possibly, duplicity (which is to say, improbable
denial) -- has marked, in fact, Duke's Department of
Athletics. Where was Joe Alleva before Tuesday's press
conference called by President Brodhead? Where now is
the commercial charisma of Coach K, who could
certainly be out front condemning Duke athletes who
call people out of their name from the precincts of
university-owned housing? Why aren't such stalwarts of
Duke athletics publicly and courageously addressing
the horrors that have occurred in their own domain? We
remember the very first day of our new President's
administration -- how he and Coach K shared the media
dais, and the basketball magnate was praised for his
bold leadership. It all seems rather like an
Indonesian shadow play at this moment of crisis. All a

What is precipitously teetering in the balance at this
point, during weeks marked by inaction and
duck-and-cover from our designated leaders is, well,

It is very difficult to feel confidence in an
administration that has not addressed in meaningful
ways the horrors that have occurred to actual bodies,
to the Durham community of which we are an integral
part, and to our sense of being members of a proactive
and caring community. Rather, gag orders and trembling
liberal rhetorical spins seem to be behaviors du jour
from our leaders.

There can be no confidence in an administration that
believes suspending a lacrosse season and removing
pictures of Duke lacrosse players from a Web page is a
dutifully moral response to abhorrent sexual assault,
verbal racial violence and drunken white, male
privilege loosed amongst us.

How many mandates concerning safe, responsible campus
citizenship must be transgressed by white athletes'
violent racism before our university's offices of
administration, athletics, security, and publicity
courageously declare: enough!

How many more people of color must fall victim to
violent, white, male, athletic privilege before
coaches who make Chevrolet and American Express
commercials, athletic directors who engage in Miss
Ophelia-styled "perfectly horrible" rhetoric, higher
administrators who are salaried at least in part to
keep us safe, and publicists who are supposed not to
praise Caesar but to damn the unconscionable -- how
many? Before they demonstrate that they don't just
write books, pay lip service, or boast of safe
citizenship -- but actually do step up morally,
intellectually and bravely to assume responsibilities
of leadership for such citizenship. How many?

How soon will confidence be restored to our university
as a place where minds, souls and bodies can feel safe
from agents, perpetrators and abettors of white
privilege, irresponsibility, debauchery and violence?

Surely the answer to the question must come in the
form of immediate dismissals of those principally
responsible for the horrors of this spring moment at
Duke. Coaches of the lacrosse team, the team itself
and its players, and any other agents who silenced or
lied about the real nature of events at 610 Buchanan
on the evening of March 13, 2006. A day that, not even
in a cliched sense, will, indeed, always live in
infamy for this university.

A responsible, and in many instances appalled -- and
yes, frightened -- citizenry of Duke University is
waiting -- and certainly more than willing to join
considered actions by bold leaders to restore
confidence in a great institution and its mission.
Today, I polled my class whose enrollment is
predominantly women and white. All said that nothing
had happened in terms of this university's response
that had left them anything but afraid. The shame of
this is unconscionable. Still, these women will surely
sleep better this evening than the black woman injured
at 610 Buchanan Boulevard by the white lacrosse team's
out-of-control violent partying will ever again rest
in her life.

Professor Houston A. Baker, Jr.
George D. and Susan Fox Beischer Professor of English
Editor, American Literature

A thought

I've been reading a lot of James Baldwin and I came upon this quotation: "The wretched of the earth do not decide to become extinct, they resolve, on the contrary, to multiply; life is their weapon against life, life is all that they have." And i was thinking about abortion and the push to make it illegal again.

Is this about white supremacy? About increasing the US white population? No incentives like other countries but a dis-incentive--a criminalization of reprodcutive choice.