black women

Daniel Holtzclaw Found Guilty on Multiple Rape Charges

YouTube / FOX 10 Phoenix
Image via YouTube / FOX 10 Phoenix

Prosecutors noted a tendency to target women whose credibility would be questioned by both law enforcement and society in general. During the trial, defense attorneys tried to challenge the victims’ credibility by emphasizing their criminal records to the jury and asking about their past drug use. Holtzclaw’s family also accused the victims of fabricating their stories.

White Men, Black Female Bodies, and Renisha McBride

Renisha McBride was killed in a suburb of Detroit. dignidadrebelde/flickr

In the early morning of Saturday, Nov. 2, Renisha McBride, 19-year-old black woman from Detroit, crashed her car in Dearborn, a predominantly white Detroit suburb. Lacking battery power for her cellphone, she approached a nearby home to ask for help. Theodore Paul Wafer, a white man, answered the door. He responded to her knock by shooting a firearm through a locked screen door, striking Renisha in the face and killing her. Police initially said that the white man mistook her for an intruder and shot her in self-defense, even though Renisha was unarmed and there is no evidence of her attempting to enter the house uninvited. Two weeks passed before the Wafer was charged with second-degree murder and arrested. Wafer maintains that he acted in self-defense. If the recent George Zimmerman acquittal is any indication, it is entirely possible that justice will not come to pass.

A black woman is dead because a white man decided that she should die. A black woman is dead and there is no guarantee, that in 21st-century America, justice will be done.

This is America and this is not new.

I’d never heard of Renisha McBride until her death became a national news story a little more than two weeks ago. But in a way, I’ve known Renisha my whole life. Renisha’s story echoes the stories of black women across the arc of American history. 

Afternoon News Bytes: Feb. 6, 2012

Evangelicals' Lock On The GOP Cracks; Syria Crisis: Army Steps Up Homs Shelling; Diamond Jubilee: Queen Celebrating 60-Year Reign; Evangelicals And The US Election: A View From The Outside; The New Christian Abolition Movement; Voters Willing To See US Attack Iran Over Nuclear Weapons; For Some Black Women, Economy And Willingness To Aid Family Strains Finances; John McCain Slams Mitt Romney's 'Self-Deportation,' Advocates 'Humane Approach' To Immigration.

Vanquishing Jane Crow

Civil Rights activist Pauli Murray (1910-1985) is known for her challenges to Jim Crow (as when she applied to the segregated University of North Carolina for graduate study in 1938), and her ordination to the priesthood in 1977 (Murray was the Episcopal Church's first African-American female priest). She has received increased attention from both scholars and activists in recent years, but little has been said about the connections between her political commitments and her religious convictions. Sarah Azaransky ably addresses those connections in her wonderful new monograph, The Dream is Freedom.

Azaransky teases out three themes in Murray's writings. First, identity: Murray constantly navigated binary identities in which she did not neatly fit. She was a light-skinned African American with white and black antecedents. Her sexuality was decidedly not heteronormative; in early adulthood, she sometimes cross-dressed, and she referred to herself as having a "'boy-girl' personality." She was a woman working in a civil rights movement that, by her lights, marginalized the concerns of black women. As Azaransky shows, Murray's vexed personal relationship to "identity" shaped her academic writing about racism. Central to Murray's legal writings was the concept of "Jane Crow," a term she used to name the double discrimination black women experienced.

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