During the next few weeks I am going to delve into some interesting words in the American language because words are intimately important tools to convey what we think and to make what we think real. People who love words and love to use them can create entire worlds or destroy entire worlds right on a piece of paper. Because my focus is on White Supremacy, I will be discussing particular words within that context. Therefore, it will be important to learn critical thinking if you don't have that skill (and it is a skill), or put it to good use when reading these next few posts on the words I dissect. During the course of this exercise, I invite you to add words you may use often, may hear often, and/or may take for granted that you want to understand when the light is cast on its broader meanings and contexts within the system of white supremacy.
Ready to take off your blinders? Okay.
It is ugly.
Dictionary.com defines it as, "unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim." (Source: Dictionary.com)
According to the FBI, December 11, 2014:
"The FBI has implemented an important change in the definition of rape that is used in the collection of national crime statistics. PERF has been working to keep its members apprised of how this change will affect local police agencies. Following is a set of questions asked by jurisdictions and answers the FBI provided to PERF:
Q: In 2012, the Department of Justice announced a change to the definition of Rape for the Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s (UCR) Summary Reporting System (Summary). How does the new definition differ from the old one?
A: The old definition was “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” Many agencies interpreted this definition as excluding a long list of sex offenses that are criminal in most jurisdictions, such as offenses involving oral or anal penetration, penetration with objects, and rapes of males. The new Summary definition of Rape is: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
Q: When will the new definition of Rape become effective?
A: The new definition of Rape went into effect on January 1, 2013." (Source: FBI.gov)
So, by both definitions, literal and lawful, we can conclude that rape is awful.
But before I begin to discuss the painful truth about rape within the context of white supremacy, I will provide some comfort for white people and black people.
Be assured that I am not attacking white people in this post. Moreover, you can be assured that I am not an angry black woman. "Human males rape." That includes both black and white males." Human females also rape, although in the white supremacist system, which is patriarchal, men will tend not report rape perpetrated by women. It is also rare, since men are generally not able to produce an erection when under duress.
Now that this is out of the way...
Rape was a useful, albeit heinous tool used during slavery by white men against black men and women. There has never been any secret that many white men were desirous of black women throughout the history of this planet. There are also some treatises on the subject of white female sexua assault against black men. In any event, rape was a way to control the slaves on the ships and in the fields, in the big houses and the shacks and its subconscious purpose was to condition the women to understand that their bodies were not their own, and to condition both the men and the women to understand that they were powerless to do anything about it.
When slavery ended, it was important to maintain control of the newly freed black men and women, so rape was employed throughout the reconstruction and into the twentieth century. While white men were lynching innocent black men for looking at a white woman, they were, at the same time, ravaging the bodies of black women with complete impunity. For example, a white man would have no problem going to the home of a black family and kidnaping the young son or in most instances, the young daughter. In other cases, the promise of work was an enticing lure for young black girls to get into cars with white men. Understand that rape against black people, especially women were not isolated incidents during the early and mid-twentieth century. RAPE AGAINST BLACK WOMEN WAS COMMONPLACE.
Rosa Parks was in the forefront of the effort to stop the rape and violence of black women, although white history depicts Mrs. Parks as a kindly old lady with tired feet who stumbled into history. She was already a seasoned fighter for the rights of black women to own their own bodies and to take a stand against such violence. I recommend reading a great book on rape in America: "At the Dark End of the Street," by Danielle McGuire. It is eye opening and wrenches the spirit, but it will put this article and this word within the context of white supremacy into the proper perspective.