Over the summer, researchers published a study that offered proof of a phenomenon in American black communities that has existed since slavery: By being perceived as more mature, black girls fall victim to what researchers are calling a “perception trap,” and are treated negatively as a result.
That this horrific idea exists, floating in our collective ethos and demanding a refutation is shocking. But this is where we are, and the failure to address the horror only means a greater evil is sure to come.
Wars fought because of ethnic hatred often seem to be more brutal than others. This is just a personal observation, having studied many. Just look at Rwanda, whose 1994 war saw between 250,000 and half a million women raped, often with objects and often publicly, in order to spread maximum humiliation and terror.
I was stopped by the police one night in January 2015 as I rode the New York City subway. I was making the long trip back downtown from Washington Heights at around 2 a.m. and had fallen asleep. Suddenly, I jolted awake to find an NYPD officer standing over me. The officer asked me to step off the train. I asked him why. He insisted I do it.
Anyone watching the news this past August could think they’d been transported back to Montgomery, Georgia, circa 1954. Darren Wilson, a white police officer, had shot dead 18-year-old black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Images of police in riot gear unleashing dogs and water cannons on protesters dominated every TV network. Violence between demonstrators and police erupted in the small town.
Crystal N. Feimster is no stranger to uncomfortable narratives. A feminist scholar in the department of African-American studies at Yale University, Feimster has spent much of her academic career addressing and unpacking the often-controversial stories woven through racial and sexualized violence. She has found 450 court martial cases from the Civil War related to rape and other sexualized violence, but says that, as we still find today, the crime was “overwhelmingly underreported.”
When Shin Dong-hyuk was 10 years old, he watched his mother be raped by her boss. In an attempt to fetch her for dinner, Shin approached the office where he had been told she would be. The door was locked. Through a window he saw her kneeling as she washed the floor, then saw her boss approach and grope her. Shin’s mother and the man took off their clothes, and the boy watched the rest unfold.
More than 100,000 women were raped in the 36-years Guatemalan genocide—at least 200,000 people died. In this video, photojournalists Ofelia de Pablo and Javier Zurita interview survivors and document the ongoing forensic and legal investigation that recently indicted former Guatemalan President Efraín Ríos Montt.