Rape, Race, and Silence

Truly appalling report here discussing a horrific crime: a Haitian woman at Dunbar Village housing project in Florida was gang-raped for 3 hours by 10 teenagers, while her son was beaten. She was then forced to perform oral sex on her son, and both were temporarily blinded with bleach. What’s even worse is that (a) although the walls were paper-thin, nobody responded to the screams; (b) nobody called the police or helped them get to the hospital–they walked, blinded and bloody, on their own; (c) although only a few of the perpetrators have been caught, there has apparently been very little media attention. This is the sort of crime that would be on the front page of every paper and running round the clock on TV, if the woman was white. But there are some tricky issues here, concerning what gets noticed. As What About Our Daughters notes, it’s specifically black crime against blacks that is most ignored. If the victim is black and the assailants are white (as in the Duke rape case), black activists like Sharpton and Jackson can be counted on to get involved. But as she also notes, race is still relevant in a case like this (and not just because if the victim had been white it would have been a national scandal)– e.g. there’s a good case to be made that the degree to which Dunbar Village has been allowed to fall into a lawless state is due to its racial makeup. It’s also worth noting the apparent silence from many feminist organizations. In general, there’s so many people not speaking out who I’d expect to speak out that a part of me can’t help wondering: is there something I’m missing here? Please do fill me in if so. Got this story via The F-Word.

Update: There’s an excellent post by brownfemipower at Women of Color Blog, responding to the “solution” offered by Gem at What About Our Daughters (raze the Dunbar project to the ground).