From February to June 2014, 13 of Oklahoma City’s Black women have reportedly been raped and sodomized by a police officer that was supposed to be serving and protecting them.
Now over a year later, these women are finally testifying in court to bring their perpetrator to justice. However, their testimonies have only been met with the resounding silence of a community that’s preoccupied with everything else—from the Mizzou protests to H&M’s new Balmain collection—but their stories.
Why aren’t Black people angry at Daniel Holtzclaw?
Why aren’t we invested in finding out who this person is and in shedding light on the way he repeatedly assaulted our own women—while on duty? We were awfully fired up about George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson, and rightfully so. But isn’t Holtzclaw just as bad?
Why aren’t we tweeting and marching in the streets for Holtzclaw’s victims? Was there some secret meeting that deemed rape as less worthy of discussion than murder and assault in the Black Lives Matter movement? And why do we only care about Black women being raped when it’s allegedly done by a famous person?
Now that Holtzclaw’s story has resurfaced with the start of his trial, we all need to be following the updates. Yes, it saddens and infuriates me that my career requires me to constantly read and write about violence and injustice. But this is what fighting oppression against Black men and Black women entails.
If you somehow don’t know who Holtzclaw is, or are trying to front like you remember his name from a headline on that article you never read, I will school you now and spare you some future embarrassment.
Holtzclaw is a 28-year-old half White, half Japanese officer from The Big Friendly. He was a football player prior to joining the force, hence his hefty and imposing stature. Holtzclaw is facing 36 counts of rape, sexual battery, and forcible oral sodomy of 13 Black women as young as 17 and as old as 54. The trial began last week on Tuesday, Nov. 3; Holtzclaw was arrested in August 2014 and has been receiving an obscene amount of online support ever since.
If his story weren’t disgusting enough, it was recently revealed that the jury reviewing the case is all White and predominantly male. This strategy of making the jury almost identical to the defendant is a blatant attempt to put Holtzclaw at an advantage in the case, as the jurors are inherently biased and more likely to rule in his favor.
Holtzclaw’s rape case is shocking, but it’s not new. There is a widely known yet rarely discussed legacy of Black women being raped by White men for the sake of their various interests, whether they be capitalism, fetishism or sheer amusement. By not putting this story at the center of Black Lives Matter like the stories of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and even Sandra Bland, we’re undermining the pain and trauma experienced by Holtzclaw’s victims, as well as the scores of Black female rape victims that came before them.
We need to do better. We need to do better for ourselves, for the Black women we love, for the Black women we hate, and for the Black women we don’t know at all but who still deserve to be kept safe and treated with respect.
The merits of human decency call for that.