The reason we don't hear more about Black serial killers is not because they don't exist. It's because their victims are rarely newsworthy enough to get the same amount of coverage as white victims.This essay contains discussion of serial murder and r/pe. Please use discretion. Even the most depraved and gruesome of the white serial killers who dominated headlines once upon a time continue to be intimately and sometimes even fondly explored through television, film, podcasts, and other forms of entertainment. The most prominent of these killers, who continues to dwell in the social imagination long after his execution, is Ted Bundy—idealized in a way that frames his crimes as more sophisticated than they really were and his acumen as more impressive than it really was. Our culture’s framing of white serial killers like Bundy as tortured geniuses only serves to memorialize them while allowing their celebrity to overshadow the lives they stole. It’s irresponsible. As is this same culture’s neglect for the crimes committed by Black serial killers, so much so that many people continue to say they’ve “never heard of a Black serial killer” and the myth they don’t exist is regularly perpetuated. I bring these two things into conversation with one another because I believe their connection is significant. These two phenomena—both the glamorizing of white serial killers and the obscurity of Black serial killers—are so prevalent because white men are continually afforded humanity and individualism while Black men are pathologized as inherently violent and animalistic, and because society devalues the victims that Black serial killers primarily target. The documentary “Unseen” (2016) focuses on the crimes of Anthony Sowell, a man who served fifteen years for a rape he committed in 1989. In early 2009, a woman named Gladys Wade filed a police report against him, stating that he had sexually assaulted her and tried to kill her. Despite there being visible bruises and blood on her neck, police called her claim “unfounded” and determined that there was “insufficient evidence” to make an arrest. In their report, Wade was described as “not credible” as a victim. That same year, Vanessa Gay was held hostage and raped by Sowell. She also found a decapitated body decomposing in his home. Gay managed to convince Sowell that she wouldn’t tell anyone about what he’d done if he let her go. She called the police to inform them about what had happened and what she had seen, but because she never filed an official police report, the incident was never investigated.
The ability to feel empathy is shaped by our genes, and empathy is pretty fucking important.by Sherronda J. Brown and Lara Witt Whiteness is nothing but power. It was given and attributed to some and then many, for the sake of creating an all-consuming, capitalist, cisheteropatriarchal white supremacy. Systemic power, passed down from generation to generation and woven into the fabric of our world, built in through legislation, behaviors and biases, wealth and economic opportunities, geographical location, and culture, all become the lifeblood of parasitic whiteness. Hierarchical social structures like white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism, depend entirely on the maintenance of that power. White people, through a series of tools, including the idea that whiteness is all at once the neutral embodiment of human existence and not a privilege in the least, continue to benefit from hundreds of years worth of colonization while Black, Indigenous and people of color continue to hold less power than they do and therefore lack access to opportunities and foundational aspects of human existence — including physical autonomy. Colonialism was rooted in denying humanity to millions, it justified centuries of violence. And white supremacy as we know it today was planned and maintained by people at all levels of society, it creates racial disparities in homelessness, racial health disparities and the racial wealth gap. Whiteness and white people like to frequently remind us of their power without ever discussing it openly or with intent to dismantle white supremacy. No, if anything, whiteness is the one thing—no matter how poor, no matter how angry, no matter how sick they are—white people still have their skin. While there are subtle exertions of white supremacist power—especially popular amongst liberals and within democratic party leadership—there are also very obvious examples of the ways in which whiteness has made white people less empathetic resulting in the systematic harm of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). If white people do not view BIPOC as human through a series of dehumanizing tactics and tools, then has their power given them a sadistic pleasure in seeing our bodies harmed? It would be fair to argue that they do.
SUPPORT WEAR YOUR VOICE: DONATE HERE
Dunham has shown us who she is, and white women have continued to support and uplift her as a feminist hero.by Sherronda J. Brown and Lara Witt This essay contains discussions of sexual violence, including r/pe and molestation Last week, a writer at The Guardian posed what she no doubt thought was a poignant question: “Lena Dunham is a hugely original writer. Who cares if she’s a good person?” Before you ask—yes, she is. See, Martha Gill is deeply invested in protecting a fellow white woman from the consequences of her actions, and she is willing to tell lies about Lena Dunham’s talent, ignore truths about her poor character, and gaslight the people who have and continue to rightfully criticize her and her dangerous white feminism in the process. Just a few days after Martha's contribution, Katie Herzog wrote "The Pleasure of Hating Lena Dunham Is Less About Her And More About Us" for The Stranger. All things considered, it looks a lot like Dunham or someone close to her enlisted white women writers to do proactive damage control ahead of her latest apology in a long, long string of apologies for shitty behavior. Even more frightening than the idea that this might be premeditated apologism on her behalf, is the fact that white women reflexively feel the need to defend Dunham in the first place, because like so many terrible white men artists and literary figures, she is a terrible white woman who makes media that they enjoy. So they stand by her in the name of abusive white feminism, and perhaps like the terrible men, they feel that she too deserves a chance to stand separate from her art, able to continue succeeding while she uses the bones of Black and Brown women as her throne. Gaslighting us, shifting the animus for the criticism of Dunham onto people of color rather than Dunham’s proven record of investment in white supremacy, is easier than interrogating themselves and the white womanhood that connects them. When Aurora Perrineau revealed last year that she had been raped by Murray Miller, Lena Dunham called her a liar. Dunham, who has long used “feminism” as a platform for herself, her voice and her work, issued a statement along with Jenni Konner, co-showrunner and writer of “Girls” stating, “While our first instinct is to listen to every woman's story, our insider knowledge of Murray's situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year. It is a true shame to add to that number, as outside of Hollywood women still struggle to be believed. We stand by Murray and this is all we'll be saying about this issue.” But it's Dunham who was lying. As part of her recent PR run—which comes after the death of her website, the dissolution of her production partnership with Jenni Konner, the very public and controversial resignation of a Lenny Letter writer, and a call for women of color to no longer work with/for her—she has now apologized for this damaging lie one year later. And in classic Lena Dunham form, she centered herself and her own feelings in her apology for a lie that harmed a Black person who was sexually assaulted at 17 years old: “I didn’t have the ‘insider information’ I claimed but rather blind faith in a story that kept slipping and changing and revealed itself to mean nothing at all,” writes Dunham. Aurora Perrineau deserved far better, but women like Dunham are only consistent in perpetuating white supremacy and, in particular, misogynoir.
SUPPORT WEAR YOUR VOICE: DONATE HERE
Black, Brown, poor, and trans sex workers absorb most of the stress and violence and are erased constantly.Incel is such a strange word to me. It’s not a term I use often. Like, “cock” and “cuck,” the word incel conjures up a “lone wolf” white boy who sits on 4chan counting his colored and gendered enemies, plotting mass destruction. I returned to Twitter after a light weekend break to see a new hashtag making its rounds—a man who calls himself David Wu started a campaign against camgirls and other cyberthots on Facebook and it made its way over to Twitter. Cisgender, presumably heterosexual incels were reporting “thots” to the IRS because, apparently, “hoes don’t pay taxes.” The main folks being targeted were women who use and advertise SnapChat Premium accounts. Although the word “thot” connotes a Black woman and has been specifically weaponized against Black women and girls’ sexuality, it was cisgender white women who apparently felt the most attacked and were the loudest voices “fighting back” against the incels. During this social media moment of mass harassment and hysteria, I saw the phrase “this is a war on women” from white and Black women alike, and many were not sex workers or directly related to the community at all. I wondered what each of them meant. Often the category of “women” excludes trans women and nonwhite or Black women. Deviant women, often not considered women at all. But then there are other classes of women within those classes, like women who are sex workers. Sex workers are comprised mostly of cis and trans women but there are men in this profession as well. However, this campaign solely targeted women, and used a racialized word to further drive home their point: to target working class and poor women, mostly women of color.
SUPPORT WEAR YOUR VOICE: DONATE HERE
Jones used white liberalism and performative allyship to target mostly poor Black folks, seduce them into his abusive cult, take their money, and orchestrate the death of over 900 people.This essay contains discussions of suicide, murder, and spiritual abuse
“Black people were integral to Jim Jones’ ambitions. Without black followers, and black causes to encourage and support, Jones might have ended up pastoring a tiny Methodist congregation in backwater Indiana, largely frustrated and entirely unknown” (273)Sunday marked the 40th anniversary of the massacre at Jonestown. Jim Jones is a name that many people know or have at least heard of. It’s a name that invokes fear and awe. “Mass suicide” is the story that most know about Jonestown, but much of that is a fiction or an incomplete truth. Those who refused to drink the concoction of grape Flavor Aid laced with cyanide were held down and injected with the poison or executed by the armed guards. This is how up to a third of Jonestown, nearly 300 people, met their end on November 18, 1978, murdered on Jim Jones’ command. When we remember Jonestown, we cannot only examine that gruesome ending. We have to look at what led up to it and the insidious methods used by Jones to manipulate his followers. Jones used white liberalism and performative allyship to target mostly poor Black folks, seduce them into his abusive cult, take their money, and orchestrate the death of over 900 people. Peoples Temple began as a community of citizens who believed in racial equality and social justice, but unbeknownst to them, they were being led by a man whose only motivation was power and control. What Jones wanted more than anything else was immortality. He wanted his name to be eternal and he wanted to achieve this immortality through having total sway and dominance over others, a man who “seemed to believe that once he did anything for someone, from that moment forward the person belonged to him, with no right to disagree about anything or ever leave” (60). [caption id="attachment_50250" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Jim Jones in Guyana[/caption] In the low-income, inner city Black communities of Indianapolis, Jones saw real injustice, but he also saw people he could easily manipulate and take advantage of. He saw an easy, unobstructed path to power and having people indebted to him, belonging to him, and he used his position as a spiritual leader to lure them into his web. “Trapped in poverty, confined to vermin-ridden slums where their children were educated in crumbling, underequipped schools, African Americans in the city most often found church to be their only source of solace. It was a relief to spend long hours there, listening to sermons reminding them of God’s love and His promise of heaven, eternal land in a milk-and-honey Promised Land. Commiseration now and better times after death were the message of the city’s black churches. Their ministers did little to help their members overcome the immediate challenges of Indianapolis and its apparent unassailable racism. It took a white preacher to show them how” (67).