When Black Fear Becomes White Lies
When Black Fear Becomes White Lies
By Keith Boykin
April 27, 2005 12:11 PM
Univ. of Cinn. posterIt was bound to happen. With all the hype and hysteria about black men on the down low, it was inevitable that white people would start thinking the same thing -- that black men ain't shit. If black women and the black media have already convicted black men of being sexual predators, why shouldn't a few racist white college students do the same?
That's exactly what happened at the University of Cincinnati this month when a group of white students, calling themselves the National Alliance, posted fliers on campus warning students not to have sex with black people.
The fliers, which were distributed on campus and featured in the school newspaper as an advertisement, read "Don't Have Sex With Blacks - Avoid AIDS." They featured a Willie Horton-style mug shot of NuShawn Williams, an upstate New York man who was convicted several years ago of having sex with underage white females after he learned he was HIV positive.
The fliers also misstate several alleged facts about the AIDS epidemic. "According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Blacks aged 12 to 24 account for 63 percent of all new AIDS cases," the flier claims. That's just not true.
Blacks make up 50 percent of all new AIDS cases, not 63 percent. But it's hard to blame racist white people for getting the facts wrong when well-meaning black people do the same thing everyday when we talk about the down low. "Down low expert" J.L. King and others repeatedly claim that black women make up 68 percent of all new AIDS cases. That too is false (how can black women make up 68 percent of all new AIDS cases when black people as a whole only make up 50 percent of new AIDS cases?), but the media repeatedly report King's misinformation as gospel truth.
As someone once said, a lie can be halfway around the world before the truth even has time to tie its shoes. That is certainly what is happening with the lies about AIDS and the black community. And it's not at all surprising to see these lies repeated in the white community when you realize that black people have already allowed a few profiteers in our midst to make a quick buck by demonizing black men.
So what do these racist fliers say? "Don't be the next victim," they warn. Very much the same message that the down low demonizers communicate when they warn black women to distrust black men. "A recent survey has shown that HIV positive blacks are less likely to tell their sexual partners of their infection than any other racial group," the flier claims. The same misinformed message is used frequently in the black community to explain why black women should not trust black men.
We were only fooling ourselves if we thought we could have carried on a dialogue that openly criticized black men without experiencing any consequences in the larger society. As I have said all along, the down low story not only demonizes black men as predators, it also stigmatizes black women as diseased and undesirable. Notice the fliers in Cincinnati warn whites not to have sex with blacks of any gender, not just black men. Black women are also harmed by these negative stereotypes.
I hope the open-minded students at the University of Cincinnati are able to put a stop to the distribution of these racist fliers on campus. But even more importantly, I hope that my brothers and sisters in the black community will see this incident and finally put an end to our own racial vilification of black men, and especially toward black men with HIV.http://www.keithboykin.com/photos/albums/private/cinciposter.gifhttp://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal/11442436.htm