Daniel Holtzclaw was an Oklahoma police officer who has been accused and arrested for raping and sexually assaulting 13 black women. He is currently on trial, but there’s one major problem. It’s a jury of his peers: eight white men and four white women. Needless to say, this is one huge fuck up.
Ultimately, Holtzclaw is being charged with 36 separate counts, including first-degree rape, stalking and burglary. Writing for the New York Daily News, journalist and activist Shaun King cited an Oklahoma City-based reporter’s Twitter when describing how Tuesday’s jury selection process ended up with this composition:
Every eligible African-American juror was removed from consideration and the final jury selection was composed of eight white men and four white women. Not one black woman even made it into the final larger pool of jurors. Three black men made it into that pool, but were each removed. Not even the alternate jurors were black.
Now I know there are those who will call me a race-baiter. I’m bringing up race in this situation when race has nothing to do with it, or some other bullshit. Anything to deflect the reality and gravity of this case avoiding the forest for the trees. But the truth is that the instant that the jury was chosen which comprised of nothing but white folks and mostly white males, that’s when race was a factor. As always, it’s white people who decides what justice is. And given this nation’s history and atmosphere, I’m not too hopeful about the outcome of this trial.
The Vox reports:
Many, many studies have found that juries are inherently biased, and different racial compositions can make them even more biased in certain directions. Specifically, the whiter the jury, the more likely it is to convict a black defendant.
But this isn’t a black man on trial. It’s a white dude. So, if a white jury is more likely to convict a black defendant, would it stand to reason that a white jury is more likely to acquit a white defendant? Again, all one has to do is take a look at this nation’s history and how whiteness is treated when it comes to crimes against black people and you will understand why so many people are highly skeptical and worried about what the jury will decide.
Throughout history, white males have been raping black women over the course of three centuries, and there has not been one time where white men have been punished for it!
Racism Review reports:
During slavery, and later under legal segregation, many African and African American women were sexually coerced and raped by white men, including white sailors, slavemasters, overseers, and employers. Such sexual violence symbolized white male power to everyone in local communities. Under the North American system the children resulting from coerced sexual relations were automatically classified as black, even though they had European ancestry. Indeed, it is estimated today that at least three-quarters of “black” Americans have at least one “white” ancestor. No other U.S. racial group’s physical makeup has been so substantially determined by the sexual coercion and depredations of white men.
Numerous surviving narratives from enslaved women have accounts of such sexual exploitation by white men. For example, in 1850 a prosperous Missouri farmer, Robert Newsom, bought Celia, then a fourteen-year-old, and soon thereafter attacked her. Over the next five years, Newsom sexually attacked her many times, fathering children by her. In summer 1855, when Newsom came to Celia’s cabin to attack her again, she hit him with a stick, and he died. In a travesty of justice, Celia was convicted in a Missouri court of the “crime” and hung in December 1855. Black women typically had no redress for such brutal crimes against them.
In the case of Celia, she was raped many times. She defended herself, killing her attacker. But she was the one who got punished in the end! The “trial” was not about a woman being raped by a man. It was about a black woman killing a white man. It didn’t matter if he raped her and wouldn’t stop. She had to pay for killing him!
Now, what if the races were reversed. We all know what the outcome would be. If a black man was accused of raping a white woman, his ass is grass. No question. Even if he was innocent, he would still get lynched. We learned from Emmett Till that even flirting with a white woman would mean certain death by racist white men who would end up acquitted by an all-white jury. And we learned recently in Hamilton, Ohio that black boys who so much as stare at white girls could end up suspended from school.
So, spare me the crap about how white juries don’t matter in cases like this. It does! I fear that there will be no justice for the black female victims on this rapist cop. I also fear that Holtzclaw will probably get his job back. (I hope I’m wrong about this.) White folks, overall, haven’t proven that they truly are above color. To this day and age, they still see color and to many of them, that’s what matters. That’s why we have an all white jury. And that’s why, as a black man, I worry about the outcome of this trial.