It’s an American tradition to make the black body a scapegoat for white criminality. The infamous “black guy did it” syndrome (in this case, “black lives matter”) plays on the fears of all Americans–it’s the quintessential way of dehumanizing blackness–make it a perpetual threat, heighten the racial biases, and exploit it for sociopolitical gain. It’s a tactic taken directly from the Republican playbook; however, there is no need to align yourself with any political party to, at the very least, acknowledge this pattern. In fact, it actually goes beyond the inner-workings of black codes in the political system–this is a byproduct of white supremacist teachings.
It is embedded in the fabric of our American history and culture.
The black body dies first in films and is the first to blame when shit goes wrong. For the black American, the “benefit of doubt” remains an abstract ideal, one that they’ll almost never be able to benefit from. The black body is the perceived menace to society, regardless of the social class.
When Scott Lattin vandalized his own car and placed the blame on the “Black Lives Matter” movement, it wasn’t just an attempt to frame this particular, diverse human rights group. It wasn’t just a lame attempt at staging a hoax or to simply scam his insurance company. It wasn’t some passionate attempt to eliminate this “terrorist group” in an undying support of police officers. This was a deliberate Hail Mary play that society seems to always catch with open arms.
Lattin appeared on several news programs, gained loyal support, but was then arrested for making a false police report. The irony is simply hilarious: It says a lot about our fragmented American society. Law and order works when it wants to work. Law and order is fickle. Sure, we’re happy he was caught, but we can’t deny how difficult it is to break with tradition.
The rise in technology is making things a lot easier, but here are a few individuals that have used the black body as a scapegoat for white criminality– major stories which demonstrate that the biases still exist in today’s mainstream and independent media, police departments, justice system, and within society as whole. Let’s start with the recent buffoonery, Scott Lattin.
Scott Lattin, Texas, 2015
Charles Stuart, Massachusetts, 1989
Bonnie Sweeten, Pennsylvania 2009
Susan Smith, South Carolina, 1994
Ashley Todd, Pennsylvania, 2008
Brian Wells, Pennsylvania, 2003