The Daniel Holtzclaw Case And Black Women’s Fight to be Victims

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490263_Oklahoma-City-Officer-Ass2Daniel Holtzclaw, a former Oklahoma City police officer, allegedly engaged in repeated acts of sexual violence against Black women. For many reasons, Holtzclaw, 28, was able to continue on his brutal tirade of violence, revealing his evil intent, unrelenting pursuit of sexual gratification, and his freedom to engage in white supremacy violence under the guise of privilege. Since he targeted Black women, his freedom to oppress and violate was long-lived.

Who cares about the safety of Black women in a world where white men can do no wrong?

Holtzclaw allegedly assaulted 12 women and a 17-year-old girl while on duty, and now faces 36 charges, including forcible oral sodomy, rape and sexual battery. Some of his accusers have criminal records, which are being used to discredit their accusations.

She was a prostitute, how the hell can she cry rape?

In November 2015, a 24-year-old woman told jurors that she didn’t tell law enforcement about the sexual assault committed against her because Holtzclaw promised to get rid of a drug charge. The assault — which allegedly happened in December 2013 — occurred while the woman had one arm handcuffed to a hospital bed. “He stuck his hand in my privates,” she testified. “I didn’t expect that because he did it out of nowhere.”

Holtzclaw’s attorneys attacked the women’s credibility by highlighting that she had given seven fake names to the police in the past.

She lied in the past, how do we know she’s telling the truth now?

The uncensored abasement inflicted on women who are already victims of sex crimes is a bitter reminder of the erosion of humanity. This lack of humanity is also represented in the actions of lawyers who attempt to make others view these women as anything other than victims. But if society is to maintain a level of rectitude, we must reject lawyers who serve to dig up an imperfect past in an attempt to liberate a serial rapist.

Another accuser told jurors on November 12, 2015, “I didn’t think anyone would believe me. I’m a black female.”

She also testified that Holtzclaw allegedly sexually abused her on more than one occasion, stating that in February, 2014 Holtzclaw told her to sit in the back of his patrol car and expose her breasts. The woman complied because she didn’t want to go to jail.

Who’s going to believe a Black woman over a white police officer? She doesn’t stand a chance in court.

Clearly, Black women’s sexuality is exploited by white men who use their inflated superiority and inclination for perverse sexual gain to terrorize and dehumanize Black women, who are themselves trapped in damaging system of paternalism.

The lack of empathy for Black women dealing with the social, emotional, and physical repercussions of white supremacy violence delineates society’s infantile ability to express compassion. In this primitive state, people are positioned in a hierarchy of importance. Black women occupy the bottom tip of this diamond-shaped hierarchy, and while clinging to the tip they hope that someone will save them or at least believe they are telling the truth.

Usually, those who can save them simply sit and watch.

The spectators who fail to intervene also categorize Black women as insignificant, unworthy, and of lesser value than white women. Now Black women are dehumanized and in this dehumanized state, spectators find it easy to watch them suffer. Until we value the health and well-being of those who are oppressed, victimized and exploited, we cannot profess to be warriors of humanity — indeed a society must be judged by the way it treats its vulnerable.

The women in this case are vulnerable — all 13 of them — and the repeated and systematic manipulation of that vulnerability, which in turn caused these women to be exposed to grotesque sexual violence in the first place, means that these women are victims and they should be understood to be victims irrespective of mistakes they’ve made in the past. Indeed, these women have been subject to violence that is synonymous with the ugliness seen in nightmares. To then face degradation and humiliation in a court room only adds to the unbearable trauma and pain that they’ve already endured, and continue to deal with.

Understanding that Black women are victims also means challenging stereotypes about their strength and resilience. It means accepting that they are inherently human and fragile. It means understanding that sexual violence leaves one traumatized, paralyzed and in need of long-term therapy and care. We cannot assume that Black women are immune to the tragic consequences of sexual violence. In making this assumption we undermine their humanity and dignity.

Black women are always fighting— fighting for better pay, better housing, access to education, and employment. Black women are also fighting to keep their husbands out of jail and their children out of the school-to-prison pipeline.

Do Black women have to fight to be victims too?

As far as I’m concerned, when the same man is accused of committing acts of sexual violence against 13 women, it’s a f*cking no-brainer who the criminal is.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views, policies or position of Atlanta Black Star or its employees
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