Before I get into this post let me state unequivocally that I have complete sympathy for the those that are dealing with mental health issue; however two incidents in the news have caused it to be necessary to point out the ways in which mental illness can effectively be used to hide the racist agenda behind criminal activity.
Ashley Todd, claimed to have been attacked by a unidentified black male assailant. Her choice of a black male was not accidental. When she finally admitted to falsifying the whole ordeal, Todd apparently revealed that she was dealing with mental health issues. Of course no "rational" person could have conceived of such a ridiculous bid for public attention. While her actions did not cause physical harm to any individual other than herself, it was damaging to blacks. It reaffirmed in the social psyche that in the case of criminal activity, a black person is always the first suspect. I will always wonder if a black female had decided to carve the an M for McCain into her cheek, would it have gained the same media attention? Would she later able to claim mental deficiency for a light sentence? As we know sentencing in the judicial system already favours whites over blacks and somehow I doubt she would have been given the same free pass.
In the case of Nekedia Cato, a 25 year old black woman who was run over by Thomas Cosby, the defence of mental incapacity means that she will not see justice. Apparently even though being divorced 25 years ago, the fact that his wife left him for a black man left Cosby with so much rage he decided, "all Black people should die" Those were the words that he screamed as he aimed his car at the defenceless Nekedia, who was riding a bike at the time.
So here we have the case of a black woman that will have to deal with an injury for the rest of her life, and yet her name does not have the same household recognition as Ashley Todd. Imagine if a black man had mowed down an innocent white woman, screaming whitey must die. The calls for blood, and retribution would be resounding. When a white man nearly kills a black woman of course he is mentally ill, no need to consider the social implications of white male brutality against black women; the poor man is sick.
According to Eastjournalonline.com "His attorney, Michael Lambert, has said he is perplexed by the hate crime because Cosby is not a racist". Cosby screamed,"These Black people need to die. Help me kill them. I saw her on the bike and went to take her out. Yes I believe he is being railroaded how could such commentary ever be construed as racist? What is the world coming to when a white man cannot safely issue death threats against black people?
In both cases whites were able to negotiate mental illness in their best interest, and it was the black community that paid the price. What we can conclude from this, is that crimes committed against blacks by whites are considered non issues. The burden of proof on behalf of the alleged defendants seems remarkably low; leading one to conclude once again that only certain bodies matter.
How many Nekedia's are out there, wounded at the hands of a white male awaiting justice? Seeing her lying their prone I cannot help but think of how much blood has been drawn from black women at the hands of white males. I cannot help but think of the numerous black women that have gone to early graves because our lives have been deemed meaningless by society. There seems to always be some reason why black women cannot get justice. Whether she is an accomplished woman like Anita Hill, or an everyday woman like Nekedia, the fact that our bodies are constructed as always available for violation allows this kind of behaviour to go unpunished.
To those that deny white privilege is in existence and site Obama as proof of change these two incidents alone shine light on that fallacy. Whiteness is still entitled, whiteness still equals the default good ,and whiteness is never culpable. In the words of Sam Cooke a change is gonna come, but that day is not today.