Why is there no sympathy for black female victims of crime?

Source: Prevention Lane

I got a request from reynagirl14 to write about why people, men in particular, refuse to feel for victims of violence against black women. She observes that the media doesn’t “pay attention and whenever they do pay attention, the media place racist stereotypical labels on the Black victims, and the police tend to look the other way when it comes to serial murders of Black women.”

As a black person, I understand that much of society refuses to see black folks as victims or feel sorry for them in any way. However, as a black man, I can never fully understand how it feels to be treated unfairly as a female. Therefore, I feel I have NO RIGHT to tell black women how to feel, what to think or what to say in regards to poisonous misogynoir. Yet, it doesn’t and shouldn’t excuse me from learning, and would require – among other things – an honest examination at my own sexism. This doesn’t cancel out that racism is still a major problem for us, but it does bring out the reality that black women face a kind of oppression that black men don’t experience and participate in.

I’ll do my best to explain it, and any I take full responsibility for any mistake I make or anything important that’s left out.

As a black person, you don’t have to be a victim of a crime to be looked down upon. Black skin has always been associated with inferiority ever since European colonization and the slave trade. Male chauvinism has been around even longer. The two would eventually create a hideous offspring that would render black female bodies as tools for white male use.

For white men back in the day, and in some cases today, the black female was seen as hypersexual like black males. In their minds, black women are in constant lust for sex. It’s the cruel mentality that influenced some white men to rape black women without remorse and without any form of punishment. Conversely, white society saw white women as their “precious commodity”, a humanized form of beauty and purity that must be protected…from black men, even though white men have raped white women themselves and continues to do so to this day. The double standard is forced to protect the myth of white supremacy by enforcing the myth of the black male rapist while rendering white women as property. But on the other hand, they don’t think that black women can be raped as they’re not seen in the same regard or as fully-functioning human beings. 

Along with the hypersexual image came the angry black woman stereotype, a notion that black women are perpetually angry. Another stereotype, that wasn’t confined to black women as it is today, is the gold digger stereotype and its close relative, the thug lover. I consider the last two to be in the same bracket as the myth is that black women want men with wealth or they want a man with some gangsta in him. In other words, they’re always chasing the superficial kind of male, or so the assumption goes.

Society, men especially, have adopted these false and one-dimensional images, and some within the black community have adopted them wholesale. It is upsetting to hear the attitudes some black men have against black women. They consider them loud, bitter, promiscuous, materialistic and want only thugs. It’s especially troubling to hear some black women say similar things. Though one can theorize that these negative sentiments come from some inner pain, they’re still hints of internalized racism due to society’s anti-black atmosphere.

These stereotypes are based on ignorance, hate and fear and do nothing but remove empathy for black women and see them as problematic with no explanation. Yet, they are powerful enough to influence public opinion on them in every aspect of their lives from politics to relationships and all things in-between. And although they’re losing power, they still present significant and even vital problems as black women are still being treated unfairly. It is the lack of concern that allowed powerful men like a certain R & B singer to leave a path of pedophilia and domestic violence against black girls and black women while flourishing from his music for years, for an armed white supremacist to walk into a black church and callously shoot and murder nine black churchgoers, most of whom are women and for an Oklahoma police officer to rape 13 black women without getting caught.

Somewhere during these and other tragic events, people have said that in some way, “The victims deserved it. Their parents should’ve known better. Those girls knew what they were doing. They’re just after his money” Any morally bankrupt response to the depraved treatment of black women is mentioned proving that black women are still the most undervalued group in a racist and sexist society. Thankfully, not all men devalue black women. But misogynoir continues to put black women in its cross hairs continue to cause damage to the black community and beyond.

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11 thoughts on “Why is there no sympathy for black female victims of crime?

  1. This topic reminds me of a song Jill Scott had called” We Need You”. I love that song ,but it sums up how I feel about this topic

    When it comes to Black women,not only are we the most disrespected but also the most misinterpreted races of women I can think of.

    Black women are considered to be the strongest women in the world to the point where a news article / study was done about it and for once ,it was a positive article as it discussed about their coping mechanisms. This was what the meaning of being strong is all about.

    Being ” strong ” is often misconstrued. For us ,it means being masculine. For Black women to think for themselves/ their men do for themselves is an insult for some Black men and men in general. As some may argue it emasculates them.

    Even if Black women were Stepford like,there will always be a complaint about them because of their race . If non Black men think that Black women are masculine, they were always racist from the get go. There are some independent ..though not as much like Black women…White women but no matter how strong some of them come off to be, they’re” sassy “. They get to retain their feminimity card.

    There are some Black women who feel that we should tone down our independence . I think not. The day Black folks..and Black women in this case..give up themselves is the day the nation and the world will fail. Black women are the most vocal,independent and compassionate people in the world. No woman endures life’s adversities like we do. They care about their communities and other people and they’re not going to wait for something to crash over before attempting to save it.

    Black women aren’t trying to be
    ” men” as they are bogusly being accused of doing . They’re being supportive ..whether physically,mentally and spiritually.

    I’m not a man but if I were,I were I would want to have a strong Black/woman on my team .To be strong shouldn’t be seen as a literal definition. It should be seen as a way of women wanting to be supportive and/ or being their for a man’s time of need. I would be appreciative that Black women are marching on my behalf for justice and on the non social side..that she’s contributing to my household when I can’t or that she’s by my side when I’m down and out. I would want these same features in a guy.

  2. Yes! I’m glad you wrote this because Black women and men don’t get sympathy when it comes to be victims of crime. Stereotypes of Black women and men were developed by powerful White men and some White women to justify harm and oppression. We all know Black men get the most vicious and genocidal violence because they’re threats to White patriarchy but in a society that pretends to “protect” women, that doesn’t mean all women because how women in America are valued according to race and class.

    We all hear about the “missing White women syndrome. That only applied to young middle to upper class White Christian women only. They use news media, which is controlled mainly by White men, to alert such women, while Black and Indigenous women get no news coverage, when they do, the reporters stereotypically label victims as “drug addicted”, “runaway”, “fast”, “prostitute”, etc.

    We already seen as amoral jezebels, sapphires, gold diggers, sluts, welfare queens, etc. by mainstream society.

    When I watched Unseen, the documentary regarding the victims of Anthony Sowell, the neighborhood store owner blatantly called the Black women victims of the serial killer as “garbage”. At the time of Sowell’s arrest back in 2009, Cleveland’s local radio-talk shows, which have been having a field day with the story since it broke and in the embedded local racial animus exposed by a white caller to one of those talk shows, who essentially blamed the victims—either for being crack whores, or for simply living in a black neighborhood.

    Also, in Investigation Discovery’s Bad Henry, the police simply didn’t care about Black women killed by the serial killer until it’s too late and the FBI’s stubborn refusal to cooperate solving killings of Black women in Charlotte during the early 1990s.

    TBH, society doesn’t care about Black women victims of crime. As a matter of fact, they don’t really care about women victims at all unless they come from a protected racial/social class, i.e. upper middle class/upper class white women and when white women are victims of Black and Brown men as Bill O’Racist and 45’s racist rhetoric. Those are the only two times society give a hoot about women victims of crime.

    Reynagirl14

  3. Here are snippets from my blog, Journal de la Reyna article, Media’s Lack of Coverage and General Society’s Lack of Compassion Regarding Serial Murders of Black Women:

    “This thing is serious business, until we know women are safe in this community, we will be out here every year,” – Activist Kathy Wray of the Imperial Women Coalition

    “The police don’t care because these are black women… . It’s not like Lonnie killed no high-powered white folks. We don’t mean nothing to them. We’re black. What the @@@@. Just another @@@@@ dead. The @@@@ should not have been out there on drugs.”
    Pamela Brooks, in “Tales of the Grim Sleeper”

    Professor Cheryl L Neely of Oakland(MI) Community College discussed this lack of attention and police indifference in her debut book, You’re Dead, So What. She discussed at length how media, law enforcement, and the general public indifference to Black female victims of homicide. She give examples and comparison between the murder of Imette St. Guillen and Stepha Clark. How the media and the police treatment of such women are base upon socioeconomic class and race.

    We all know that mainstream media often saturate missing and murdered women with stories about beautiful, middle class White female victims such as Chandra Levy, Mollie Tibbitts, Laci Peterson, Kate Steinle, etc. There’s a label for the aforementioned victims, coined as the “Missing Beautiful White Woman Syndrome.” They’re also considered victims deserving of sympathy, compassion, and empathy. Sure, the pedestalization of White American women help solidify the idea of young, beautiful White women as worthy of remembrance. They are the standard of beauty in America today. We Americans still refer to celebrity White women as American Sweethearts who captured the hearts of Americans and others worldwide. They’re considered as sweet, easy on the eyes, and personable. Also, non black women and girls get the assumption of innocence regardless of circumstances.

    In contrast, society have very little compassion for Black women victims of crime, let alone serial killers. As a matter of fact, Black female victims are labeled in American society and media as being “loose”, “fast”, “crackheads”, “runaways”, drug users, “sluts”,”whores”, “thots”, mentally unstable, “baby-making machines”, and “welfare queens”. Likewise, the mainstream American media and the general public tendency to label Black females as “street women”, “Chickenheads”,”prostitutes”, “ghetto”,”junkies”, “ratchet” and so on. For a very long time, Black women academics long contended that the controlling images of Black women(Jezebel, Mammy, Sapphire, Welfare Queen, Crackheads, etc.) are employed to stigmatize an already marginalized group of women. The jezebel stereotype especially. That stereotype justified abuse of Black women by White and Black men since slavery. Such abuse rarely invoke outrage from the public. That needs to change.

    Going back to the Madonna/whore ideology. From historic times, society in general always label women as either good, chaste women, wives, mothers, nuns or they’re loose women, prostitutes, and mistresses/courtesans. Renaissance artists reflected societal views of women through the Madonna paintings by famous artists Lippi, Botticelli, Raphael, etc., or nude paintings such as the Venus of Urbino by Titian.

    In American society, the Madonna/whore ideology is strong, tinged with class and race components. White and other non black women, especially East Asian women are considered the “sacred Madonna” while Black, Native American, and certain Latinas, especially the Caribbean Latinas are labeled as “bad women” deserving of their fate. This view is far more widespread as the lack of coverage, the disparaging remarks in and out of cyberspace, and general indifference on the part of law enforcement to solve murders of Black women in America and Indigenous women in Canada.

    The Madonna/whore mythology were used in how the public reacted to murders of Black women.

    For example, the Cleveland convenience store owner showed sympathy to Anthony Sowell, whom he said in the Unseen interview that “he took out the garbage”. That’s a blatantly hateful remark. He saw the victims, living and dead, of Anthony Sowell as being “worthless” and “undeserving” to him. In referring to the slow reaction on the part of Charlotte police in connection with the Henry Louis Wallace serial murder case, a concerned young woman in East Charlotte stated that the police did not care because they viewed the young female murder victims as “fast girls who hang out a lot”.

    In the December 2014 issue of Vanity Fair article covering the Grim Sleeper and how law enforcement turned a blind eye to the serial murder of Black women, Franklin’s son Christopher describes meeting L.A.P.D. officers who asked if they could shake his hand, aware that he was the son of the Grim Sleeper. Broomfield was dumbstruck by the revelation. “Christopher told me his father had a lot of fans in law enforcement. Some police officers actually admired Lonnie for ‘cleaning up the streets.’ That seemed, to me, too incredible—that a serial killer could be a person who was respected within certain sections of law enforcement.” Unfortunately, those attitudes are widespread in society, seeing poor, Native American, Latina, and Black women as being of lesser value than other American women.

    There’s a deeply troubling disparity in reporting the disappearance and homicides of female victims reflects racial inequality and institutionalized racism in the social structure. Oftentimes when reporting, there’s a considerable bias when it comes to Black American female murder victims. The reporters always want probe into the backgrounds of such women, their sexual histories, criminal records, the neighborhoods where they reside, their work/education backgrounds, history of drug/alcohol addictions, and whom their associations were as if they done something wrong to cause their demise.

    They were rarely described in the media as being attractive, beautiful, smart, intelligent, serious, wonderful wives, good mothers, or pretty. Those descriptions are reserved for middle/upper class and/or famous non black victims. With precious few exceptions, there are very few media outlets cover Black female homicide/serial murder victims with sympathy and compassion.

    Reynagirl

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