The Myth of the Black Rapist

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? 


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. Exactly 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)


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.