“Going, going, gone
Now I dialed 9-1-1 a long time ago
Don’t you see how late they reacting
They only come, and they come when they wanna
So get the morgue truck and embalm the goner
They don’t care because they stay paid anyway.”
Lyrics from 9-1-1 is a joke by Public Enemy
Over the past few months, there has been an onslaught of unfounded accusations made against innocent Black males by several pathologically-perverted White women with cell phones. From Corner Store Caroline, Permit Patty, and Barbecue Becky, the number of outrageous offenses hurled toward Black males by White woman dialing 9-1-1 is on the rise.
However, it is the most recent attacker, Corner Store Caroline, who has made my skin crawl. Corner Store Caroline is a bonafide BULLY who falsely accused a NINE-YEAR-OLD CHILD—Jeremiah Harvey– of grabbing her rear end while they both shopped inside a small store. Harvey is a young person who, after a hard day at school (one that appears to be an intensive place based on the size of the backpack he was carrying), had stopped for an afternoon snack while accompanied by his MOTHER.
So, let’s do the math here. You have an elementary school student–a young boy who just recently became tall enough to see above the same countertop, in front of which the alleged assault took place. Here was a CHILD who was in the store with his mother—a BLACK woman–a woman who has undoubtedly done what most Black women with male offspring do: we teach children, especially our sons, the tragic story of Emmett Till. We weep as we explain how this vibrant, young Black male had his life horrifically extinguished from a brutal beating, gunshot to the head, gouged out eyeballs and near decapitation from the weight of a 74-pound cotton gin fan tied around his neck before being tossed into the Tallahatchie River. We show them images from Till’s open-casket funeral, courtesy of Ebony-Jet magazine and The Chicago Defender where pictures of his mutilated, grossly-distorted body lay at rest across its pages. We teach them to be respectful. And we warn our Black sons to be leery of ALL strangers, particularly one group– White women holding cell phones in proximity to where they live, walk, or hang out.
For that reason, I suspected, as did many others, that there was a logical explanation for what Corner Store Caroline, whose real name is Teresa Klein, felt was a posterior pat down. I felt her aggressive tone was misplaced. Fortunately, in Harvey’s case, video camera surveillance captured the truth. The lens revealed that it had been the youngster’s backpack that had grazed the woman’s bottom, not his hand. Sadly, this type of technology didn’t exist during Till’s day. Evidence found in 2007 shows that sworn statements made by one witness, Carolyn Bryant Donham, during the slain teen’s trial, were not true. That means Donham’s statements that Till had “clasped her hand…..grabbed her waist” and told her “he had been with White women before” were bold-faced lies. Those fabrications led to Till’s execution-style murder by a group of White men, one of whom had been Donham’s first husband. He was later revealed to have been a wife beater too.
While the outcomes are drastically different for Till and Harvey, the underlying premise of both cases is the same. In a matter of mere seconds, two White women were able to either snatch away or irrevocably damage the lives of two innocent Black male youth. They then threw their physical and mental scar tissue down a dispenser marked White Lies Matter.
Granted, Klein may have thought someone grazed her backside as she bent over the store counter. Regardless, her response to the false assault was so intense, so rage-fueled, that she appears to be standing on the precipice of the #MeToo mountain. Her premeditated footing means that even the slightest tap is enough to send her spiraling recklessly downward from that elevated space, cell phone in hand, speed dialing 9-1-1-as she hits bottom.
This madness has to stop. As Solomon Jones states in his column entitled It’s time to lock up Corner Store Caroline and her ilk (Inquirer Daily News/Philly.com//October 16, 2018:
“Black folks understand that, in many cases, these kinds of calls [to police] are driven by the racist assumption that blacks do not belong in white spaces, or by the harmful biases that assume black criminality. But after suffering through centuries of racism, we’ve learned to chuckle at these kinds of slights — even going so far as to give our tormentors nicknames.
…Beneath the laughter, however, is the potential for danger, because when such people are entering our homes, denying us access, even shooting us in our own apartments, Black lives are at stake. And if we truly want these incidents to stop, the perpetrators must be prosecuted for the crimes they commit when they make false police reports, harass law-abiding citizens or make terroristic threats.”
Calling 9-1-1 on these innocent Black males is NOT a joke.
Shanita Baraka Akintonde is a tenured professor in the Communication Department at Columbia College Chicago. Her latest book, The Heart of a Leader, was released in September 2018. If you want to be added to her email distribution list, reach out to her today at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Twitter @SHAKINTONDE and connect with her on Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/shanitaakintonde/.