Monday, September 8, 2014

Scary black men

This is all too common. If you're going to make up a story about being attacked by scary men, of course they're going to be black.

I remember reading about an attempted attack on a hiker/biker trail, here in Lincoln, Nebraska, a few years ago. A big, scary black man jumped out at a young (white) woman on the trail, but luckily, she was able to escape.

The retraction a few days later got much less attention. I saw it buried on an inside page of the newspaper, just a brief note that the woman had invented the whole story, apparently for attention. I'm sure that relatively few people saw the retraction, given how little attention the news media paid to that, compared to the original - much more exciting - claim.

But when this woman decided to make up a story - for whatever reason - of course the scary man was going to be black. Isn't that what you'd expect? I'd have been shocked if her imaginary assailant hadn't been black.

Naturally, this feeds into the preconceptions of the overwhelmingly white population here - a population fed on a steady diet of fear by Fox 'News' and other right-wing Republican propaganda mills.

And no doubt the police stopped and questioned any black men in the area. ("Black man" probably tends to be a distinct enough description in most Nebraska neighborhoods to narrow down the list of "suspects" to a manageable number.)

This is racism. But the people inventing such stories probably don't actually intend to be racist. This is just how they see the world. All too often, such stories are believed because that's how the people hearing them see the world, too. (In both cases, my complements to the police who checked out these claims and determined the truth.)

Racism is still common in America. We've come a long way, true. Let's not forget the very real progress we've made. But we still have a long way to go.

No comments: