From the New York Times opinion page:
The verdict enables more survivors of all backgrounds to share their truth, regardless of their identity of perpetrators.
By Salamishah Tillet
Dr. Tillet co-founded an organization that helps empower young people to end violence against girls and women. Salamishah Tillet is a professor of African-American and African studies and creative writing at Rutgers University, Newark. @salamishah
Feb. 26, 2020
In October 2017, I let out a big exhale when Harvey Weinstein became the target of accusations in the #MeToo movement and Roy Moore, Louis C.K., Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor immediately became part of the growing list of those who allegedly sexually harassed women and girls. As a feminist activist, I celebrated the public shaming of these men. As a black woman who has survived sexual violence, I quietly applauded the new narrative on rape and race in America that I saw unfolding.
In the first weeks of #MeToo, the celebrities accused of sexual assault were white men, not African-American men. It would take two almost months after Ashley Judd’s sexual harassment accusation against Mr. Weinstein in The New York Times before the first high-profile black man was accused, when Jenny Lumet wrote in The Hollywood Reporter that Russell Simmons had sexually assaulted her.
Finally, media representation had caught up to reality. According to the most recent data released by the Justice Department in a special report on female victims of violence, white men committed more than 57 percent of sexual assaults from 2005 to 2010 in the United States.
To be precise, the government report reads:
Across all three periods, white males committed the majority of sexual violence. Over time, the percentage of sexual violence committed by white offenders declined from 70% in 1994-98 to 57% in 2005-10. The percentage of black offenders increased from 18% in 1994-98 to 27% in 2005-10. White males consistently accounted for more than 82% of the total U.S. male population and black males accounted for 11%. The NCVS did not collect information on the ethnicity of the offender. Therefore, Hispanic offenders make up an unknown portion of the white, black, and other race of offender categories.
So, black males were 27% of offenders in 2005-2010 and 11% of males. 27/11 = 2.45.
(Whites plus non-black Hispanics) were 57% of offenders and 82% of males = 0.70.
2.45/0.70 = 3.5.
So, the black male rate of sexual violence offendership according to this report was 3.5 times the (white male plus non-black Hispanic male) rate.
UPDATE: the above calculation was just for the most recent time period, 2005-2010, in the report. That’s the time period Dr. Tillet used. But, because I like looking at more data rather than less data, let me redo it using all three time periods 1994-2010.
This calculation will weight by the length of the time periods. It assumes the sexual violence rates were the same in each year, so a period with 6 years in it gets 6/5ths the weight of one with 5 years in it.)
|Dates||% of Pop||1994-1998||1999-2004||2005-2010||1994-2010||Rate||Ratio|
|White or Hispanic||82%||70%||60%||57%||62%||0.75|
So, that reduces the Black rate relative to the White/Hispanic rate from 3.5X in 2005-2010 to 2.9X in 1994-2010. Notice that there is a lot of unexplained volatility in the other 3 groups besides Whites&Hispanics and Blacks.
Back to the NYT:
This shift in our national consciousness also chiseled away at one of our nation’s most pernicious and enduring racial stereotypes: the black male rapist. This myth, born in the 19th century, worked to prohibit consensual sexual liaisons between white women and black men on one hand, and was used to justify the widespread lynching of black men on the other hand, by white mobs who falsely asserted their black male victims raped white women.
As that stereotype took hold, it destroyed the lives of black men and their families, and it had another chilling effect: It discouraged all women from coming forward with allegations against white men. And the stereotype of the black male rapist has intimidated black women who were assaulted by African-American men into silence out of fear of being labeled race traitors or, worse yet, of being seen as complicit with a criminal justice system that disproportionately incarcerated black men.
Before Mr. Weinstein’s conviction on Monday, many black women assaulted by African-American men have had to make a difficult choice: suffer quietly or seek justice by appearing to collude with a racist system.
In December, the rapper 50 Cent said as much to Oprah Winfrey when he blasted her in an Instagram post. “I don’t understand why Oprah is going after black men,” he wrote. “No Harvey Weinstein, No Epstein, just Michael Jackson and Russell Simmons.” By then, Ms. Winfrey had already given a rousing Golden Globes speech in 2018 endorsing #MeToo and Times Up!, an organization founded by celebrities that grew in response to the Weinstein effect. Over the years, she had hosted more than 200 episodes on the topic of sexual assault on her daytime talk show, the bulk of which showcased white men as perpetrators.
Nevertheless, 50 Cent’s comments rang true for some who had witnessed another pattern over the last two decades: The most famous men arrested in the United States for sexual assault in the years before the #MeToo era, including Kobe Bryant, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, Michael Jackson, were black, notwithstanding the sexual assault accusations against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger around 2009 and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in 2011.
Such racial consistency gave cover to white men, who, according to the historian Estelle Freedman in her book “Redefining Rape,” historically “decided the terms and beneficiaries of U.S. citizenship” and also shaped rape laws that “contributed to the immunities enjoyed by white men who seduced, harassed or assaulted women of any race.” By doing so, she concluded, they reinforced their own “sexual privileges,” a legacy that lives on today.
Alert iSteve reader iSteve_reader notes that Professor Salamishah Tillet, author of that New York Times op-ed about how Serena Williams’s Tennis Temper Tantrum has liberated the many black women who are angry that they have been stereotyped as angry black women to finally act out on their anger against other people noticing they are angry, is not just any old angry black woman. Prof. Tillett is a Professional Angry Black Woman who has served as an Ivy League lecturer in the apparently booming field of Black Rage Studies.
Her 2017 course at the U. of Pennsylvania:
▲▼courses > graduate > 2017 spring
Black Rage: Race, Affect, and the Politics of Feeling
crosslisted as: AFRC 570, GSWS 570
instructor(s): Salamishah Tillet