Race, Rape, and the Vagaries of the US Criminal Justice System

By Kali Nicole Gross

Zeba Blay’s blog post illustrates how the specter of rape hangs over the harrowing video of an African American girl, Dajerria Becton, 15, being violently forced to the ground by former police officer Cpl. Eric Casebolt in McKinney, Texas. This and other indignant opinion pieces draw attention to a critical issue facing black women in the criminal justice system—sexual assault by law enforcement officers.

It’s a timely subject given last month’s horrific massacre in the Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina, when avowed white supremacist Dylann Storm Roof fatally shot nine African Americans. One reason, according to him, is that blacks rape white women. There is a tragic irony to that claim. Roof invoked a tired tool of white supremacy—the myth of the black male rapist—to justify his own extralegal violence against African Americans, the majority of whom (six in total) were black women.

Like his southern racist forerunners, Roof’s claim and actions all but ignore the litany of violent sexual assault against black women committed by white men, those in and out of uniform. Continue reading “Race, Rape, and the Vagaries of the US Criminal Justice System”