Bush, during a recent speech to a predominantly white audience,
voiced his concerns about the state of affairs in American white
communities. "The epidemic of whites involved in drunk-driving
fatality accidents is deplorable," President Bush said. He
cited the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 2000
statistics that showed that white male drivers between the ages
of 21-34 constituted the largest percentage of drunk (or impaired)
drivers in fatal crashes and the Pacific Institute for Research
and Evaluation, Prevention Research Center's 1999 findings that
of the 91,248 alcohol-related driving fatalities, 65,309 were committed
President Bush also
took aim at the violence perpetrated by whites in school: "White
school children killing other school children must stop. The senseless
and barbaric school shootings in Pearl, Miss.; Paducah, Ky.; Jonesboro,
Ark.; Edinboro, Pa.; Springfield, Ore.; and Littleton, Colo.; serve
as chilling reminders of what happens when there is a failure of
leadership in the white family." The president referred to
his speech as a wake-up call: "We can't hide behind the stereotypical
image of the Black and Hispanic violent criminal anymore. Before
there was 'gangsta' rap you had Martin Scorsese, Brian DePalma and
Francis Ford Coppola winning award after award and Oscar after Oscar
for their films filled with whites committing brutal acts of violence.
What type of message does that send if we reward movies that depict
such brutality? The Godfather, Casino, Goodfellas, Scarface, Kill
Bill, Pulp Fiction. These movies have all contributed to a culture
of white violence."
don't want to discuss these issues, but somebody has to speak up,"
President Bush said, as he continued his assault on what he called
the "white crime epidemic."
serial killer is usually male, between the ages of 25-35, and he
is usually white. The majority of the time, he will kill victims
of his own race. The ages of his victims will vary greatly, depending
on his particular 'interests.' His intellect ranges from below average
to above average. He doesn't usually know his victims or have any
particular hatred for them personally (though they might be symbolic
to him in some way) most of the time... His victims never did anything
to hurt him in any way...they are normally strangers to him. He
doesn't come from one social class or another; he can come from
skid row or Park Avenue. The typical child abductor-murderer is,
likewise, usually a white male. They are single and about 27 years
old. They are either unemployed or work in unskilled jobs, live
alone or with parents; while their victims are typically 11-year-old
white females from middle class neighborhoods [Bush was quoting
from the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention report from 1997]."
Bush continued his
attack on those he referred to as "social and moral vampires."
"Child pornography or kiddie porn is a crime whose perpetrators
are overwhelmingly white and whose victims are disproportionately
white. This too must stop. Even in our sacred institutions such
as our churches, specifically in far too many Roman Catholic churches,
our innocent white children are being preyed upon."
"Do you realize
that nearly 70 percent of those serving time for violent crimes
against children are white," Bush said as he cited the U.S.
Department of Justice's 1996 report, What are we doing to ourselves?
"Susan Smith, Andrea Yates and Deanna Laney represent a frightening
pattern of murder and neglect of white children by white mothers….
And do they take responsibility? No. They either blame it on some
phantom black man or say God made them do it."
The president later turned his focus on white youth
and drugs, "It's the same story for young adults. Whites are
66 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds and 70 percent of drug users that
age. Blacks are 13.5 percent of persons in that age group and only
13 percent of young adult users, while Hispanics are nearly 15 percent
of that age group, but yet comprise only 12 percent of drug users
18-25. According to the Justice Department, drug users tend to buy
from same-race dealers. So the nearly three-quarters of users who
are white, mainly rely on white drug dealers, not the Blacks or
Hispanics of accepted imagery. When it comes to drugs like Ecstasy
- a hot product in suburban America - the dealers and users have
long been known to be mostly white, middle-class males between 14
and 32. American society doesn't want to face the fact that white
kids deal and use drugs. They simply can't look in their faces and
see that a nice-looking white kid is selling drugs to their kids,
because that would mean that their kids could do this too.
"When will it end?" lamented the president.
Dear reader, this
article is only an invention. President Bush never delivered a speech
such as this. However, the statistics stated in the article are
very real and very true.
No leading white politician
or religious leader has ever, to my knowledge, come close to expressing
the thoughts and views outlined in this composition. If they did,
what do you think the response would be? If you don't have an answer
it's OK. I realize that it is difficult to come up with an answer
to a question that has rarely or never been asked. However, other
groups (especially Blacks) have had to deal with similar rhetoric
for centuries right here in America and have had to answer the question
I just posed to you, time and time again.
Let's think about
it, when the tragedy at Columbine occurred there were literally
hundreds of news stories asking the question: "Why are our
kids becoming so violent." Not why are white kids becoming
so violent, but "our" kids. Now let's contrast that with
what happens when a black child is killed in a predominantly black
community. The headline more often than not has read something like
this: "The problem of black-on-black crime" or "Violence
amongst black youth." There are two scenarios taking place
here: 1. De-emphasizing or minimizing ethnicity. When the crime
is perpetrated by white youths color is not the issue; the issue
is "our" children and violence. 2. Emphatic emphasizing
and alienation when black youth are deemed the culprits. It is no
longer "our" kids; it is "black" kids or youth.
Can you, will you, see the difference?
Our need to examine
these inequities is exacerbated by CNN’s announcement that they
are adding Bill Bennett to their on-air roster. This prolific slap
in the face cannot be appeased by Bennett’s continued pronouncement,
that his words were taken out of context and that he preceded his
ominous statement about the abortion of Black babies to lower the
crime rate with: "it would be reprehensible." The fact
he went straight for the Black population speaks volumes of his
deep-seated prejudices. Why mention Black babies at all? In light
of all the statistical evidence presented here, Mr. Bennett’s assertion
about aborting "every Black baby" would not make a dent
in certain crimes. It certainly would not make much of a difference
in corporate or white-collar crime, which is still very much white-male
dominated and rarely discussed in the on-going dialogue on "crime."
Wouldn’t the drop in crime be significant if we aborted "white
male babies" (if we were to stay with Bill Bennett’s rationale
for his hypothesis)? Furthermore,
a distinction has to be made between criminal activities and those
convicted of a crimes - not everyone who commits a crime is convicted.
I know there are some who may be offended by the assertions
that I have made in this piece; this is regrettable and yet I understand.
But before you give full sway to your feelings of anger and disgust,
answer this: were you this offended when Blacks or Latinos (and
other ethnic groups) were being characterized in the same way? Did
you challenge the people who made (and those who published) derogatory
and inaccurate remarks about other ethnic groups, to tell the whole
It's not easy being made to look like deviants, criminals
or malcontents, is it? It is frustrating and dehumanizing when the
few are made to represent the many. When the face of evil and all
that is thought to be wrong with society bears a resemblance, in
ethnicity, to you. This, I understand all too well. If that is how
you feel, please remember it; meditate on it. For it is the same
feeling that many of your fellow citizens have had to live with
on daily basis. In conclusion, let us ponder this: A fictitious
speech had to be written to talk about the crimes and indiscretions
of white folk; the words and speeches that are used to degrade and
debase Black folk is all too real.
Dr. Edward Rhymes
is the Director of Race Relations & Advocacy for the YWCA of
Greater Pittsburgh. Dr. Rhymes can be reached at [email protected].