Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Reason to Fear

I've been sitting on this piece because it felt too difficult, but when I read this post yesterday from a former colleague, I knew it was time for me to speak.

She writes:

I don't know it all, but I feel disgusted about those using the awful rape of a high school girl in Montgomery County as a platform against immigrants and Latinos. I understand that it's an absolutely horrific crime. This does not mean that all immigrants are rapists. It does not mean they're all violent. From 1990 to 2013, the number of undocumented immigrants tripled from 3.5 to 11.2 million, according to an American Immigration Council study. However, violent crime in America dropped 48% during that period, indicating that higher immigration doesn’t mean higher violent crime, which includes murder and rape. The U.S. Government Accountability Office study found that of the three million immigrants — legal or not — arrested during that period, only two percent were for sex offenses. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey shows that whites commit 71% of all documented sexual assaults, while Latinos accounted for 9%. All sexual assault is wrong. But claiming it happened because these men were undocumented is a lie. Using it to spread fear and build support against immigrants is unconscionable.

Since the report last week of the brutal rape of a Montgomery County High School student,  I have read a number of comments which begin, "I am the mother of a girl and I fear for my daughter..."

I'm the mother of a girl, too. And do you know why I fear for my daughter?

White boys. Yes, white boys, right here in Howard County.

White boys like the one who taunts a lesbian student in class that she'd "be straight if she just got good d***."

White boys like the ones who got drunk and posted a racist video online.

White boys like the one who drugged a girl and raped her, then bullied her until she no longer believed her life was worth living.

White boys.

When are we going to stop with all this coded language about "thugs" and Section 8 freeloaders," or "illegals and that criminal element" and really face the ugly truth of the toxic version of white masculinity? When are we going to discuss the price everyone pays when these boys are raised to believe that they are the norm, the Center of the Universe, and that everyone else is defined in relationship to them, their rights and their privilege?

White boys who believe that the rules don't apply to them do things without caring how others could be affected. Those same white boys will get a slap on the wrist or a warning while young men of color would face suspension or criminal charges for identical acts. Who do we protect in perpetuating a culture of entitled white boys who grow into white men who feel justified rather than responsible?

Yes, sometimes I fear for my daughter.

But it isn't skin color or nationality that makes me afraid. It's what is carried in the heart, values, humility, strength of character--or the lack of it--that's on my mind today.

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