Black men remain a major target in the United States.
While this is something that many African Americans already know, it’s also an issue that should continuously be brought to the public’s eye, so that hopefully…prayerfully, some sort of a resolution can be implemented.
Last week, a massive search was launched for Pennsylvania woman, Bonnie Sweeten and her 9-year-old daughter Julia Rakoczy after Sweeten called 911 and stated that two Black men forced her and Rakoczy into the trunk of the “suspects” Cadillac. (It’s interesting that she said the men had a Cadillac, the car often stereotyped to be a Black man’s vehicle of choice…I’m surprised she didn’t say that she saw fried chicken in the car too.)
As Sweeten’s investigation continued, police found various inconsistencies with her story, which made them suspicious. Eventually Sweeten was apprehended in Florida after she and her daughter completed a fun-filled day at Disneyworld. Authorities say Sweeten fled because of an ongoing embezzlement investigation, where she allegedly has stolen between $600,000 to $1 million from a local law firm.
Sweeten’s “Big Bad Black Man” allegation isn’t the first we’ve heard about; sadly it probably won’t be the last. Here’s a quick breakdown of other instances where whites have used Black men as the scapegoat for their own crimes.
The helpless husband – Twenty years ago after attending Lamaze class, Bostonian Charles Stuart and his wife Carol were driving in their car. Charles said a Black man forced himself into the couple’s car and drove off after shooting Charles in the stomach and Carol in the head. Charles’ sordid lie went further than most when two months after the incident, he identified Willie Bennett as the assailant. The only thing that spared Bennett was Charles’ brother Matthew, who told authorities his brother had committed the crime. Soon after, Charles committed suicide by jumping off a bridge.
The distressed mother – On October 25, 1994 Susan Smith told police a Black man carjacked her and drove away with Smith’s two young sons ages three and four months, still strapped in their car seats. After nine days of tearful pleas for her sons’ safe return, Smith confessed to drowning the two boys by letting her car roll into a lake.
The political advocate – More recently, Ashley Todd, a staffer on Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign claimed in 2008 that she was attacked by a Black man for having a McCain bumper sticker on her car. Todd told police that the Black man carved a backward “B” for Barack Obama on her face. For her blatant lie, Todd was sentenced to nine months probation.
Falsely accusing Black men dates back centuries ago. Historians describe accounts where Black men were accused of everything from violently beating white children to slaves sleeping with their “Master’s” wife. More notably there’s the infamous case of Emmitt Till, the young Black Chicago boy who was severely beaten and drowned for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
In 2009 racism continues to play a major role in our country’s landscape. While we’ve accomplished a lot, including electing the first Black president, racial disparities and injustices persist. Signs of consistency and truth may be years away from our grasps. Unfortunately some whites are so comfortable with the “Black Boogieman” theory that they continue to falsely accuse African-American males. Such actions set America back hundreds of years.
While the allegations made by Sweeten, Stuart, Smith and Todd proved to be false, the sad reality is that there’s probably hundreds, if not thousands of instances where Black men were wrongfully accused, yet remain behind bars today.
Americans need to step up and not only advocate for the wrongfully accused, but also hold the individuals who lie to a more stringent degree. Perhaps then, we’ll be able to see positive change.