The Myth of the Black Rapist by Berna Kanay

In the United States, there are multiple crime rates that shoot up and down over the past
few decades. Sadly, one of those crimes happens to be rape. What is rape? Well, rape is 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 parts, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim. The keyword to focus on here is consent. Now rape is a horrible crime to commit, however, how many of the rapists actually committed the crime and how many victims have yet to speak up?

Nonetheless, before I go into the main topic of the myth of the black rapist, let’s
re-establish what rape actually is and its different forms. According to the internet, there are 10
different categories of rape. “1) Date rape. 2) Gang rape. 3) Spousal rape. 4) Rape of children. 5)
Statutory rape. 6) Prison rape. 7) Serial rape. 8) Payback rape. 9) War rape.10) Rape by deception” (Wikipedia, 2021)

First of all, there are some categories that are self-explanatory and some that need
explanation. Date rape is one that doesn’t include violence but involves drinking. If you are
drunk and wake up and see that you are in a stranger’s bed and you did have sex with them
because you were drunk, that is rape since you were not in the right state of mind to consent to
the person you had an affair with. Gang rape is non-consensual sex activity with not just one
person but with multiple people. Spousal rape is forcing your spouse to have sex when the other spouse clearly does not want to. The rape of children is usually incest or if it is not a family relative it is another adult figure in that child’s life, for example, a teacher, tutor, etc. Statutory rape is consensual sexual activity but between a minor and an adult. Prison rape is same-sex rape that is also not consensual. Serial rape is rape committed by a person over a relatively long period of time and committed on a number of victims. Payback rape is when a group of men wants to get revenge on either the girl’s father or brothers in the house so they rape the daughter or sister of that household as a form of embarrassment for the family. War rape is done by soldiers where they kidnap multiple women for the enemy side and rape them whenever they want to release sexual desires. Finally, rape by deception is when a man lies to the woman to get their consent. For instance, pretending to be someone else or a wealthy member of society to seduce the woman. Here and now that we established all the different types of rape, every single one of these is awful and I never wish on anyone. Furthermore, let us talk about how the rapists that get caught or supposedly got caught for a crime they did not commit.

Before I talk about the victims that do not even speak up, let us talk about the ones that
do. Rape has been an ongoing problem for many years, and before the rape laws were still
framed to protect men from the upper classes to do as they please to their daughters and wives. While this is happening in the upper-class ranks, when a working-women is raped it is the last thing the court cares about. Nonetheless, regardless if they cared or not the victims do get the justice they deserve. “While the rapists have seldom been brought to justice, the rape charge has been indiscriminately aimed at Black men, the guilty and innocent alike. Thus, of the 455 men executed between 1930 and 1967 on the basis of rape convictions, 405 of them were Black.” (Davis, 101) Pay attention to the part where it says guilty AND innocent alike. This is where the myth of the Black rapist comes alive.

Surely people have been falsely accused of crimes they have not committed in every
crime. Such as murder, robbery, and rape. Though the statistics that it tends to be the majority of the time for black men. Davis calls this frame-up of black men being accused as rapists as racist aggression. “Too many innocents have been offered sacrificially to gas chambers and lifer’s cells for Black women to join those who often seek relief from policemen and judges.” (Davis, 101)

Even though people search for relief from policemen and judges, women have lost a lot, if not
all, their respect for the men that wear the said uniforms and robes.
“Young activists often stated that nothing could protect Black women from being raped
by Birmingham police. As recently as December 1974, in Chicago, a 17-year old Black woman
reported that she was gang-raped by 10 policemen. Some of the men were suspended, but
ultimately the whole thing was swept under the rug.” (Davis, 101) Even though this is a horrible
situation that the young lady experience and didn’t even get proper justice for, it shows just how much the police and so-called judges had a hand in these situations. In spite of all this, black men still continually get accused and get lynched constantly.

You are not the only ones that noticed this problem though. Actually, feminists at that
time noticed this problem of black men being excused of rape multiple times and tried putting a
stop to the madness. Men during this time period felt the urge to establish their economic
domination over their female subordinates which leads to the sad solution of rape.
“Working-class men, whatever their color, can be motivated to rape by the belief that their
maleness accords them the privilege to dominate women. Yet since they do not possess the social or economic authority—unless it is a white man raping a woman of color—guaranteeing them immunity from prosecution, the incentive is not nearly as powerful as it is for the men of the capitalist class. When working-class men accept the invitation to rape extended by the ideology of male supremacy, they are accepting a bribe, an illusory compensation for their
powerlessness.” (Davis, 115)

Before I end this discussion, I must disclaim that I never had or ever will support rape
and rapists. I just wanted to bring to light that we should double-check if we actually captured
the right enemy and not fall into a different scheme. Because yes sometimes the victim was able to see her opposer and most of the times they didn’t get a clear view or suppress the memory so much that they forget the main details, which causes the wrong person to get evicted most of the time.

As this is upsetting to read, it is just as upsetting to write about as you can easily see the
racial oppression during this time. The hunger for power over women and the desire to eliminate men of color was at such a peak that these men went as far as excusing other men for their crimes. “The struggle against racism must be an ongoing theme of the anti-rape movement, which must not only defend women of color but the many victims of the racist manipulation of the rape charge as well.” (Davis, 116) Even though the anti-rape movement was not as successful as they thought it should have been. It was a big step in the right direction.

Davis, Angela Y. Women, Race & Class. Vintage Books, 1983.
Wikipedia “Types of Rape.”, Wikimedia Foundation, 2021.

1 thought on “The Myth of the Black Rapist by Berna Kanay

  1. Hilarie Ashton


    You have so many good ideas in here and you communicate so many important truths! Your topic is a big and important one, and the directness and comprehensiveness of the way you take it on is really effective. I’m impressed by those things, and by the lyricism of sentences like these: “Before I talk about the victims that do not even speak up, let us talk about the ones that do” and “This is where the myth of the Black rapist comes alive.”

    To do even better service to all of that, your structure could use a little finessing. It’s not immediately clear why it’s important to list the categories of rape — I can imagine reasons why, but you can make that clearer to your readers. (And Wikipedia can be a place to start when looking for sources, but it’s not a place to end — you should use it to get to other ones!)

    You can also go a bit further with how you use the Davis quotes. For example, in your third graf, the quote mostly just sits there. Think about how you can use it more to support your ideas. One way to do this is to continue your analysis after you include it, weaving it into a stronger, more substantive graf.

    But the scope of what you took on is much bigger than this assignment allows for, and what you did in the space you had is admirable! You weave in your own thoughts and analysis in a way that draws the reader in, too, and that is hard to achieve.

    I’m looking forward to your final project!

    Prof A

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