Yesterday afternoon, I was in the television room for a moment. I rarely spend time in that area of the house. The set is turned on for white noise. Nonetheless, in an instant I was mesmerized. In a glorified press conference, accolades abound. Justice was served. I was stunned and sickened! Regardless of a legally defined rape, a subtlety violent, destructive, and abusive action took place. A horde of young men indulged in the titillating event.
Apparently, based on the outcome of the case and most of the discussions in this last year, the fact that any women would feel a need to submit to such misogynistic mistreatments in order to feed her family and herself, is not deplorable; it just is. Some in the press and public do not think race plays a role in this story; class is only a consideration. However, I think this incident speaks to a society in trouble. For me the party atmosphere alone causes me great trepidation. As I searched the Internet seeking documentation, I discovered "T and A," or euphemistically know as breasts and bottoms.
This incident began when a single mother, enrolled in a college that serves a primarily Black population accused three men of rape. The African American woman is a financially strapped student. Options and opportunities are few for Black wo/men in today's society. The affirmed "appellant" was searching for a way to help her family and herself. She turned to a profession that offers monetary rewards and few emotional incentives. The number of men that are willing to pay for her performance is large. Thus, the oft-discussed petitioner was hired to satisfy the "natural" and "manly" needs of a privileged group of "scholars."
You recall reports of the case. . . .
With its overtones of race, sex, and privilege, the Duke case instantly drew national news media attention. The accuser was a poor, black, local single mother working at an escort service while enrolled at the predominantly black North Carolina Central University in Durham; the Duke students were relatively well-off, white out-of-staters — members of a storied lacrosse team at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities. The accuser’s vivid account of racist and misogynistic taunts also fueled a simmering debate about the off-field behavior of elite athletes and the proper role of big-time sports on America’s college campuses.
Throughout the months of court review, the families had opportunities to speak out publicly. Empathy for these affluent, all-American, athletic, academics, was ample. Relatives chatted. They told tales of the "emotional toll" this trial takes. The mother of Duke University lacrosse player Reade Seligmann discussed her sorrow. The genteel parent sympathized with the complainant.
In an exclusive interview with CBS News correspondent Trish Regan, Seligmann's mother, Kathy, said that despite her family's nightmare, she does not blame the accuser.
"I don't hate her...I think she panicked and made up this story. I pray that she didn't mean for this to happen," Kathy told Regan.
The proud mom then spoke of her saintly son, a boy that like many others acts in a manner that society condones. Praise for the young men was plentiful. They come from good families; they are good boys.
"I am so proud of their resolve, their strength, and the first-class manner with which they handled this entire episode," Pressler [Mike Pressler, former coach of the Duke lacrosse team] said of David Evans, Colin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, the students over whom the charges loomed for more than a year.
Yes, pride and punishment were constant companions of these champions for the last thirteen months. The quandary overwhelmed their parents. Local communities expressed their concern for the predicament these fine fellows faced bravely. Tears touched the hearts of all those involved.
Seligmann's parents, Kathy and Philip, live in residential New Jersey, where Phil works as an investor while Kathy raises their four boys. Reade is the oldest. On the day Reade was indicted, Kathy told Regan she found her youngest son crying as he watched a news report.
"He looked at me and cried, 'Mom, why are they doing this?' To see this happen to your eldest son, and to see your youngest son's reaction is just heartbreaking," Kathy said.
His mother told Regan Reade has not once cried, or shown any fear. "Even when he stepped out of the police car, he kept his head up high," Kathy said. "He holds this family together. I would just like him to have his life back."
Ah, to have a life that is, by all accounts, filled with achievements, accomplishments that few Black Americans have available to them. In spite of Affirmative Action laws, as tentative as these are, when a Black man or woman walks into a room, their skin color speaks before they do. Assumptions are made. Authentic chances to perform, as able, are rarely granted. Bigotry is not blind.
Prestige and privilege are often bestowed upon white persons. Blacks, working to meet their goals, are stopped. They must learn they have a station. Attempts to accomplish greatness leave a Black man or woman besieged. Often, naysayers bombard an aspiring African-American. Well-wishers say "No, you cannot do that." Consider Presidential hopeful Barack Obama and the statements made by the media and the masses. "Is he Black enough, or perhaps too Black to be President of the United States."
Tiger Woods has his own experiences. He too, is too Black, not Black enough, too Asian, a Native American, and obviously has a little European blood in his line. Early in his career, an editorial appeared in the Saint Anthony Messanger
A few months ago, Woods became the first African American and the first Asian American to win the Masters tournament. Until 1990, no black man was allowed to join Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters. To date, it has only two black members. In fact, Clifford Roberts, the founder of the Masters tournament, once proclaimed, “As long as I’m alive, golfers will be white, and caddies will be black.” Tiger Woods shattered that long-held belief. Prior to his win, Woods says he said a prayer thanking the other black golfers who had paved the way for him.
Then there is Oprah. Even after decades of success, many muse, 'How did she do it?'
Having experienced much abuse and adversity as a young child, Oprah developed the survival instinct at an early age. She learned the lesson that if you wanted to not only stay alive but also make something of yourself you had to fight. This would well prepare her for the obstacles she would later face in the worlds of broadcasting and business.
While it is true many develop such an instinct, few find a way to express themselves vibrantly. Fewer still find someone to believe in them. The impressions of others can keep us down. Lack of information can lock us in. Ignorance does not breed bliss. Awareness is not always ecstasy. At times, financial constraints hinder us, even when we have access. Consider the circumstances of the Seligmann family.
Reade's father, however, says that the case "has taken an unbelievable and horrendous emotional toll" on his family, which borrowed $400,000 from a close friend to post their son's bond.
In an affidavit filed Wednesday, Philip Seligmann said Reade "has never been involved in the criminal justice system in any state before the filing of these charges."
"We are committed as a family, along with Reade, to do everything necessary to restore our good name," Philip Seligmann said in the affidavit, which was filed along with a motion by defense attorneys seeking discovery evidence from the district attorney.
The filings come a day before attorneys for Seligmann, as well as co-defendants Finnerty and Evans, are scheduled to appear in court for a procedural hearing in the case. The players have received permission to miss the court appearance.
All three men are free on $400,000 bond. At Thursday's hearing, Seligmann's attorneys will seek a bond reduction. In his affidavit, Philip Seligmann said the $400,000 was too much for him to post himself. He instead turned to an unnamed friend, who volunteered the money.
"I was prepared to do everything possible to prevent my son from spending time in jail for a crime he did not commit," he said.
Ah, to have friends in high places, with money and means. How sad life is for those that struggle. The young Reade spoke of this.
Free of sexual offense and kidnapping charges, three steely-eyed former lacrosse players at Duke University called Wednesday for reforms in the justice system and restraint in the media.
"This whole experience has opened my eyes to a world of injustice that I never knew existed," said Reade Seligmann, one of the exonerated athletes . . . The players and their attorneys acknowledged that innocent people go to prison because they can't afford high-powered legal teams.
"Many people across this country, across this state, would not have the opportunity that we did, and this could simply have been brushed underneath the rug just as another case and some innocent person would end up in jail for their entire life," Evans said. "It's just not right."
"It" is not right. The injustice is great. The accuser is, and was in prison. Her “cage” bars her from participating in the life the white boys know. Society ignores or excuses her barriers. However, they are solid and strong. The "accuser" is a victim of radical racism and significant sexism.
Might the young men imagine the unfairness, inequality, bias, and bigotry this woman experiences daily.
I cannot help but wonder, why must any young woman subject herself to the sexual desires of strangers? Is it not true that money is not meant to buy the soul, or enslave another human being. The North Carolina Central University student need not be the subject of domination; yet, she is. This scholar of lesser means seeks solace in whatever ways are available to her. In a society where "Boys will be boys," and "Sowing wild oats" is standard, sex for the sake of sex survives. Such antics are even thought admirable by many.
When we as a nation support white students as they engage in lewd behavior, or "levity," while dressed in blackfaces, Klu Klux Klan costumes, and carrying a noose, then we are advocating activities that advance racism. While, when pressed, we hear words from Associate Deans that are wise and wonderful yet reap few changes, what are we to think.
“We hope we can start a deeper dialogue on ... why these types of activities hurt people and why they get the kind of response they do,” said Jim Hoppe, the [Macalester College in Minnesota] school’s associate dean of students
Hypocrisy and chauvinism are alive and well.
Might we authentically examine "truth." If the Lacrosse team players were Black, would they have been had equal opportunities to be heard. If the woman was white, would she have been viewed differently? If Black men were glaring and gawking at a white women, oh the woes. Certainly, in such a case, prison, or worse, would definitely have been the outcome.
We may wish to consider whether a strong, powerful, prestigious community would support the families if the athletes were African American. Are their enough affluent and admired Black persons able to plead a similar case? Would these individuals be eager to sign petitions in support of an African American accused? Perhaps, more importantly, would it matter if they did?
You might muse the Rutgers University basketball scholars are receiving much press and support. Thankfully, they are. However, the assumption that they sell their bodies was made. You likely heard the words uttered by the infamous radio broadcaster and his producer. Perhaps, were these female athletes not on tape, as a team, during a nationally acclaimed event the out come would be different. People seeing these young Black [and white] women on the street may assume, they are as Black women are presumed to be, "[fill in the blank] with the words of Don Imus" and his sidekick Bernard McGuirk.
Duke Lacrosse Players and Reasons to Ponder . . .
First Look: Duke Rape Case (CBS News). YouTube
Duke lacrosse players: Case closed. Cable News Network. April 12, 2007
N.C. attorney general: Duke players 'innocent.' Cable News Network. April 11, 2007
All Charges Dropped in Duke Case, By Duff Wilson and David Barstow. The New York Times. April 12, 2007
pdf All Charges Dropped in Duke Case, By Duff Wilson and David Barstow. The New York Times. April 12, 2007
Duke Mom Does Not Blame Son's Accuser, Exclusive: Reade Seligmann's Mother Says 'I Don't Hate Her.' CBS News. June 22, 2006
Faith in Justice System, Praise for Players Follow Dismissal. WRAL.com. April 11, 2007
How She Did It: Oprah’s Success Factors. By Evan Carmichael. Motivation strategies for entrepreneurs.
College investigates ‘politically incorrect’ party, Students from Minn. school wore blackface, KKK costumes and nooses. Associated Press. MSNBC. February 11, 2007
We Are Tiger Woods. Saint Anthony Messenger.
Support for Reade Seligmann
This Time, a Shock Jock’s Sidekick Fails, By Jacques Steinberg. The New York Times. April 12, 2007
pdf This Time, a Shock Jock’s Sidekick Fails, By Jacques Steinberg. The New York Times. April 12, 2007
Betsy L. Angert
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