As I watched the Attorney General
of North Carolina eagerly announce that all charges had been
dropped against the members of the Duke University Lacrosse team,
it was with a sense of disbelief and amazement, however, I was
not surprised. Since the original accusation from the Students
from North Carolina Central University, an Historically Black
College, many events and revelations have come to light, including
inconsistent variations among accounts of exactly what happen.
There are three things that are, however, consistent throughout
this whole unfortunate ordeal. The whole situation since March
of last year has provoked national attention and discussion about
a prestigious institute, its relationship with a Black school
in the same city and at the base of it all, the ever-present
reality of racism and classicism in America.
The first consistency that has been very
clear to me is that Duke University has spent an enormous amount
of money to protect
its name, its students and most importantly, in my opinion, its
athletic program. One of the lacrosse players even suggested
during the press conference that, in short, he would hate to
think of what happened to those in the community who did not
have any resources available to defend themselves. That paradigm
is exactly the case with the females who were allegedly assaulted.
The defense spent an exorbitant amount of money to get the players
and the school exonerated in both the court of law and that of
public opinion. Another player who spoke even had the audacity
to suggest that this situation somehow to them was a sort of
injustice. Of course after the announcement, Duke’s President
Richard Brodhead said he welcomed the dismissal of the charges,
and that his students "carried themselves with dignity through
an ordeal of deep unfairness." I would not expect him to
say anything less shallow. Never once was “dignified” used
in the description of the nature of the team's party that night.
It was the president’s complete attempt, with no tact,
to hurry up and get the conversation over with so that the University
might return to business as usual, which I hope and pray will
not be the case.
The second thing that is consistent is that something went very
wrong at that Lacrosse party that night and no one has been held
accountable. No one really knows what happened but the people
who were there, but the facts are, you had a whole Lacrosse team
and two strippers there for entertainment; it does not take a
rocket scientist to do the adding. No matter how wrong either
parties were that particular night, something happen and nobody
has accepted responsibility. I would argue and maintain that
there has just been a tremendous amount of suffering in all cases.
Furthermore, in the last couple of days, no one has reached out
to either of the females who were present, to ascertain a response
and or reaction from them. Again, no matter how wrong or right
they were, still in this particular situation, they were victims.
Instead of publicly crucifying them and portraying them as victims
of their own fate, let's have dialogue about the socio-economic
conditions that create such situations. Perhaps they choose to
dance exotically to pay their way through North Carolina Central
as a stepping-stone to get to Duke University. Let's have conversation
about systemic statistical differences in the country. I am convinced
that there is more to the case than is being portrayed.
Finally, my last concern that has been consistent, based upon
the facts in the case, has been the continued message, that this
entire case as a debacle,
has sent to the nation and to the world. Had the players had not had access
to the“resources,” as was suggested, I believe the outcome would
have been completely different. Furthermore if the players had been Black and
the accusers had been white or any other ethnicity, I know the case would have
turned out completely differently. But as is usually the case, because there
was access to resources, Justice and equality has been compromised. Throughout
the case we were reminded how prevalent racism is in America. I would move
forward with the hope that we can continue to have really open conversation
about social change and reconciliation in the context of progress.
The Reverend D. D. Prather, is a noted Civil/Social Justice
Activist, and a native of
Atlanta, GA . Rev. Prather's email address is: [email protected].