Carey Roberts
Domestic violence industry: racist
FacebookTwitterGoogle+
By Carey Roberts
November 24, 2008

The Family Place, an abuse shelter in Dallas, recently placed race-baiting advertisements on local buses. The ads depict a smiling African-American girl crowned with a tiara who innocently predicts, "One day my husband will kill me."

Barbara Kay of the National Post charged the ads were "outright lies." Dallas Morning News columnist James Ragland labeled them "shocking and biased." Journalist Helen Smith called them "very disturbing hate speech." And Elizabeth Crawford, president of African-Americans for VAWA Reform, denounced the bus placards as "sexist and racist."

The Family Place — funded to the tune of $2.9 million a year and whose director receives an annual compensation package that tops $163,000 — receives much of its funding from the federal Violence Against Women Act.

So if the Family Place is able to indulge in hurtful racial stereotypes with impunity, what does that say about the domestic violence industry?

There's no doubt that the abuse industry strives mightily to keep a tight lid on dissent. But a few years ago the Ms. Foundation for Women sponsored a conference probing the effects of intrusive domestic violence programs on inner-city residents.

The Foundation's tell-all report, "Safety and Justice for All," reveals that "when state power has been invited into, or forced into, the lives of individuals, it often takes over." As a result, the "Criminalization of social problems has led to mass incarceration of men, especially young men of color, decimating marginalized communities."

That's a strong indictment of a law that was supposed to rid our families of the scourge of violence.

Linda Mills, vice provost of New York University and author of the book Violent Partners, makes the point that our current domestic violence system, designed by college-educated white women, caters mostly to the needs and conveniences of college-educated white women. So it's no surprise that racial minorities are poorly served.

In Charleston, W.Va., the Domestic Violence Counseling Center specializes in helping minority victims of partner abuse, female and male. But when the Center approached the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence for support, the answer was a stern "nyet."

Why? Because the Counseling Center refuses to endorse the radical feminist, anti-male ideology that the West Virginia Coalition imposes on its membership.

A few years ago Tricia Bent-Goodley wrote an article, "Perceptions of Domestic Violence: A Dialogue with African American Women." Bent-Goodley notes, "Shelters have denied housing to African American women for not sounding fearful enough or sounding too strong....Shelter workers have been found to make assumptions about the mental health needs and safety of the survivor based on this superficial stereotype."

Angela Mae Kupenda of the Mississippi School of Law voices a similar concern about domestic violence shelters: "In many minds a picture has been painted of Black women as hardened, tough, back-talking, strong, permissive and undeserving of protection."

These biases eventually affect the persons who are in greatest need of help.

Meagan Copelin, a former resident at the Cherokee Family Violence Center in Canton, Ga. recently contacted me. She revealed Black residents routinely faced discriminatory practices, such as being denied gas vouchers to go look for a job. One staffer "would look as us Blacks like we were horrible," Copelin said.

Dolores Taylor, a single mom, had a similar experience at the Georgia shelter. "I am writing to you because I have experienced racism from the staff here at CFVC and my departure from this facility is to prevent me from voicing what really takes place here," Taylor revealed.

When Pearl Williams and her two children arrived at the Martha House in Hamilton, Ontario, they faced a torrent of taunts:"Einy, meiny, miney, moe, catch a..." One co-resident referred to her as "that black bitch," and a shelter worker told Ms. Williams that she should "learn how to be white." With that, she took her children in hand and fled the facility. "I swore I'd never go back to another shelter," Williams told me.

And a few miles down the road, internal racial discord contributed to the decision to shut down the Shirley Samaroo House in Toronto.

So how does the domestic violence industry get away with these travesties? Simple.

The $4 billion-a-year abuse industry has become another self-serving interest group that steadily expands its definition of "domestic violence," advocates for policies that are out of synch with women's wishes, and condones racist practices within its own ranks.

That's an industry that's overdue for reform.

© Carey Roberts

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Carey Roberts

Carey Roberts is an analyst and commentator on political correctness. His best-known work was an exposé on Marxism and radical feminism... (more)

More by this author