This is the story from Duke University that has made national headlines. A black woman has accused three members of Duke University's lacrosse team of rape. The alleged incident occurred on March 13, 2006, and the victim reported the incident in the early morning hours of March 14. Two days later, the police obtained a search warrant for the house where the alleged incident occurred, finding several items the victim stated were in the house. Also on March 16, 46 of the team's 47 members (the lone black team member was ruled out as a suspect because, well, he's black) submitted to DNA tests. Those results are expected to be out this week. Meanwhile, Duke's lacrosse team continued to play two games (on March 18 and March 21) before forfeiting two games. Finally, on April 5, the University cancelled the remainder of the team's schedule this season.
With the DNA results coming out this week, I felt it appropriate to discuss this issue. I can't say whether or not a rape actually occurred (well, I can, but that's not the point of this discussion); but I can say, with some certainty, that the story would be different if the suspects were black, and if the victim was white. We already have evidence of that; remember The Scottsboro Boys and Emmett Till (and Emmett Till was only accused of whistling at a white woman, not raping one)? Yes, those events may have occurred at a time when racism was more tangible and visible than it is now, but I think too many of us become complacent because we don't see as many outright acts of racism as we used to.
White privilege, which I think helps to explain why the members of this lacrosse team continue to walk the streets (specifically, the three members the victim identified by name), IS racism. Let's say it again: WHITE PRIVILEGE IS RACISM. And although many white folks like to claim that white privilege is nonexistent, we know -- or should know -- different.
Along with the rest of the country, I am interested to find out the results of the DNA tests. In the meantime, I can only continue to wonder how this story would differ if a white woman accused black students at North Carolina Central University of rape.