Tuesday, June 02, 2009
The BLACK man did it
"It's a terrifying thing," she said, "for a community to hear that two black men in a black Cadillac grabbed a woman and her daughter."
Now that's an interesting statement isn't it. One would think that it's a terrifying thing for any community to hear that a woman and her daugther were grabbed and then shoved into the back of a car in broad daylight by anyone. But for reasons we know all too well the terror level jumps off the scale when an overwhelmingly white community (Bucks County PA is nearly 95% white) hears that two BLACK men grabbled a woman and her daughter. But the report wasn't merely confined to a few people in Bucks County. It seems that as soon as the police received a cell phone call from a woman who accused two BLACK men of abducting her and her child the report hit the local Philly area newscast at warp 9 and by the time the evening news cycle hit that was the big story for the 4 plus Million residents of the greater Delaware Valley. The 'liberal' media went into overdrive posting the young mother's picture, interviewing neighbors and telling her story. Bonnie's apparent abduction quickly hit the national news and for a day or so the hunt was on for the mythical BLACK men who brazenly rear ended Bonnie's vehicle and then supposedly got out of their Caddilac, pulled Bonnie and her child from their car, shoved them into the the trunk (not the back seat mind you) of the Caddy and then drove off. This all in broad daylight, (btw is there any such thing as narrow daylight) during rush hour at a busy intersection. And yet, no one else saw this. In a society where everyone and their 10 year old brat has a cell phone two BLACK men were apparently able to cause an accident, kidnap a woman and her daughter and no one else called the cops. And for reasons still unknown to me the police didn't seem to find that in the least bit odd.
For many Black folks the issue isn't just that Bonnie Sweeten played the 'BLACK man did it card' again, it's the ease of which it was accepted by the Bucks County police and news media. It was only after Bonnie's story began to unravel that some unsettling details began to come out regarding her recent activities much of which appears to involve embezzling money from the accounts of former close friends.
I'm bringing this up with the hope that we can learn something about ourselves, our society and our witness. We may have come a long way baby, but we still have a long way to go. 'But Lance, this woman committed an isolated incident that's now in the past'. We'll never get past race if you and others keep bringing incidents like these up to highlight our differences'. Perhaps. It's just that in this case the Clyde to Bonnie's caper included an eager police force and news media. Once the story broke the news media repeatedly declared that Bonnie had called from the trunk of a car driven by two BLACK men. After the truth came out all they seemed to say is the Bonnie committed a hoax. Perhaps I'm a concerned father about to send his BLACK teenage son to college and wonder what might happen if.... Perhaps we won't get past the issue of race/ethnicity unless and until we do actually talk about it. Perhaps if Bonnie was involved in a church where she regularly worshiped with, served with, got to know and love some BLACK men this ugly incident would never have happened in the first place. And perhaps the church should remember that the gospel cannot affect entrenched racial attitudes (whether they spring from blacks, whites or whomever) if we persist in being unwilling to even acknowledge they exist.
Whatever you think (and I'm sure I'll hear from some of you) there is one thing we can agree upon. Bonnie Sweeten set out to commit an act of fraud and knew that she could at least get a good head start by claiming that two BLACK men did it. And she was right.
Oh, and the quote that began this post. That was from Bucks County District Attorney Michelle Henry.
To Him Who Loves Us...