I honestly wish it was surprising the lack of news coverage given to the Daniel Holtzclaw trial over the last few months. He was quietly arrested and fired from the police force with little media fanfare or notice. His case was pushed to the back of the bus and over shadowed by other more important stories. I stumbled across this situation on blogs and new sites courageous enough to write and speak about this man. I hate to state this, but a horrible truth is woven into the tapestry of our country. A country that was built on the backs of oppressed men and woman. A nation built on land stolen from Native Americans at the muzzle of a gun. Why could 13 black women be raped and their stories become unimportant so easily? The answer to this question brings to the forefront how race, sex, and social status intersect in our American society. He hoped he could arbitrarily steal these women’s lives and sexual independence, because of who they were. He hoped stereotypes and their criminal records would allow him to abuse them at will with no repercussions. In his mind America had proven they were trash and deserved to be thrown into the nearest receptacle. He used his badge to gratify his perverted fantasies. Too often women’s stories of rape are pushed into the darkness never to see the light of day. They are asked uncomfortable questions about their sexual history and their relationship with the perpetrator. It’s as if the woman is victimized over and over again while she is being questioned. She too often carries more blame for the act than actually being the victim. He hoped their lifestyle would damage their credibility. No one would believe a black woman on drugs or sexually promiscuous. Some thought the all-white jury would acquit him of all charges. Previous trials with the same type of jury seemed to always come back with a not guilty verdict, so what would make this different. No one would believe black women of a questionable background. He thought his uniform and the trust it symbolized would protect him. He hoped fear would win out over justice and that these women would only add to the amount of rapes that go unreported. However one woman was brave enough to stand up for not just herself but the other 12 woman he preyed upon in the dark of night.
I can only imagine the hush that smothered the room as eager ears waited for the outcome of the trial. As the bailiff walked across the room with the verdict in hand I can imagine eyes watching his every step as he moved towards the judge. Everyone from Black Lives Matter and other organizations whom had struggled to get the word out about this trial were poised to witness another atrocity against women and African Americans. Another lamb, like Emmitt Till, was about to be brought to slaughter at the Alter of Injustice. However, Lady Justice was truly blind at this juncture in American criminal history. She didn’t see these women’s past problems with the law. She brushed aside the stereotypes our society had attached to their names. The tragedies of these women’s existence was allowed to shine unobstructed in the light of true justice. This time women were going to be victorious. The guilty verdict allowed them to finally see that they did in fact actually matter. At this intersection of history, Black Lives did actually have value. An all-white jury saw human beings and not color. They were not sexual playthings for a sick predator but people deserving justice regardless of background, race, or social status. Those 8 men and 4 women were examples of what justice could look like when applied blindly.
I hope this victory emboldens women of all races to step forward in courage and pull their attackers into the light. This is vindication for all the women on college campuses whom were raped but never came forward or received justice. These young women can at least have a glimmer of hope that change is possible in America. Every young enslaved girl that was viciously raped by the master’s dirty hands can rest a little easier knowing their pain was not in vain. They can bear witness to the fact that a man whom raped and marginalized African American sisters finally received what he deserved. I have a daughter and I know her struggles as a woman of color will not be easy. However, I hope this victory creates a little easier walk for her in our country and that a vicious monster like Holtzclaw might think twice before attacking her or another woman.
However, I would be naïve to think this one victory proves America has changed. There’s still a long way to go. How many other women are being raped and abused in our country? A countless number of victimized women white and black are preyed upon by men like Holtzclaw every day. This will not cure the degrading of women but only offer some hope for a better tomorrow. We as men are the ones that will need to realize the gift women are to the world. They carry and nourish life for nine months. We are incapable of such a beautiful act as pushing a baby out into creation. She’s a vessel gifted in magnificence. Sometimes men move on and leave the mother of his seed to care for the child alone. At that point she must strap on her resolve and do what is required, which is be a father to a fatherless child. She becomes a hero in a world that doesn’t appreciate her immense talents. When she arrives home she kicks off her heels, puts on a cape and tends to her children for the remainder of the day. We, as men, must honor women and remember that without one we would not be breathing. I hope each time a man considers degrading a woman thru name calling or abuse that he remembers his mother, sister or both. In the moment of consideration, I hope he swallows his vile words, puts his hand down, and replaces those despicable acts with a hug of love and appreciation. It’s ironic Holtzclaw wore a uniform that was sworn to protect, while he raped and pillaged poor women in the most economically devastated part of Oklahoma City. He will never again see the light of day. He will rest in darkness and fear as he tries to navigate his new world, which is a jail cell.