Dr. Boyce: Girl’s Forced Apology to Rapist Was About More than Race


sexual assault in the black community

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Most of us were shocked to read about the seventh grader who was forced by her school to apologize to her rapist.   When the school didn’t believe the little girl’s story, they told her to write a letter of apology to the boy she’d accused.  Later on down the road, the girl was raped by the same little boy again.

We published the story on Your Black World, a website that is designed to focus on African American issues.  Our audience is predominantly black, we keep it black-owned and target our stories t0 the black community.  Our goal is to directly confront the issues that matter most to "us" without watering them down by the influence of greedy, racially-oppressive corporate media.

Someone sent me a note about the little girl’s story, asking me if the girl was African American.  I said, "I don’t know."  Then, someone else reached out and told me that the girl wasn’t black.  The person expected me to be shocked, as if they were telling me something that would change the relevance of the story or somehow make the little girl’s sexual assault less traumatic than it is.

My response to the person was this:  I don’t care what color the girl is, her story was tragic and relevant to millions of black women who are faced with the threat of sexual assault on a regular basis.  That’s all that matters to me, and that’s why black people need to read it.

In our community, rape is often under reported, not taken seriously or simply ignored.  Many women are assaulted at the hands of men that they trust and members of their own family.  Beyond blatant assaults, there are far too many situations where the 15-year old girl is smooth-talked by the 30-year old man who convinces her that he’s the only person on earth who gives a damn about her well-being.

These are the stories that often go untold in our community, and I can personally think of several teen pregnancies that occurred because an older man was committing statutory rape.

It is important for all of us to elevate our understanding, education and indignation when we see sexual abuse occurring in our communities.  Black America’s apathy toward men like R. Kelly is a glaring sign that far too many of us do not value the protection, health and well-being of our little girls as much as we should. I don’t care how many hit songs R. Kelly makes:  It must be clearly communicated that the behavior of a child predator will not be tolerated by any of us.

So, to make a long story short, I could care less if the little girl in the story was white, black or anything else.  The reality is that her story had a universal connection to the core of our humanity, and there are other little girls out there right now having the same horrific experience.  If we do not get into the habit of taking a stand for girls and women, we will continue to be just as abusive as those who’ve oppressed our people in the past.

We have to elevate our thinking.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. 



Filed under African Americans

28 responses to “Dr. Boyce: Girl’s Forced Apology to Rapist Was About More than Race

  1. Pingback: Dr. Boyce: Girl’s Forced Apology to Rapist Was About More than Race « Black Gossip for Black America, Black Celebrities included

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  10. Beverly

    What did this girl do to deserve such harsh treatment? absolutely nothing from what I have read.The school should be held accountable for what they did, this is neglect on the school behalf, if they did not believe what the girl had said, why didn’t they bring in a professional (Doctor) to exam her. So many things like this happen and some people just sweep it under the rug as a way of not really doing their job, it just a way too cover up what should had been taken care of from the beginning. This really makes me angry too see something like this happen and the victim has to say she is Sorry, this should not be aloud, the school should have too pay dearly both professional and financially. This is shameful to know there are people like this, that work in the system the sad part about this is they do.

  11. Leah Harris

    I was just saying to my daughter the other day that I didn’t think RKelly should have been on stage opening the Soul Train Awards Show! I mean people were smiling and applauding for him as if he never went to trial for a sex crime.
    I don’t care if the person said she consented to the act … She was too young for him to have been having sex with in the first place. And no matter what amount of money was awarded to her she will always be associated with that act … Forever.
    I was very surprised that the news and radio were so hard on Chris Browns choice of violence, which none are right, but RKelly being an older adult should have been made to see that this was and is considered a crime and will never be excepted from any race!
    Think about it … These young ladies could have very well been your daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, cousin … Would it have still been taken so lightly?

  12. Thanks for this article and shedding more light on the particulars of this very depressing situation. I think that some people really think that blogs that focus on the trials , tribulations and achievements of people of African descent are somehow racist as well. Wrong is wrong and many of us speak out against injustice on all fronts and as you said it doesn’t matter the ethnicity, religious or economic status of the individual or persons involved.
    As always Dr. Watkins you keep it real!

  13. I had to do a search to read more details on this story, luckily I came across a CBS news article on the matter. When everything is said and done I really wish I could say I was surprised that this had happened in a public school. The fact that this happened the way it did, just left me deeply disappointed with what American public schools have become. I can only imagine the chill that ran down the spines of parents forced financially to keep, or place, their children in public schools.
    I totally agree that it doesn’t matter the ethnicity of the victim. Any and all claims of criminal activity, not limited to sexual assault, should be thoroughly investigated and reported to the appropriate law enforcement agencies. The fact that the school officials didn’t report this to police for further investigation suggests two disturbing possibilities. One, that there’s a very strong possibility that the school superintendent has made it a policy to undermine any written school reporting policy. Or Two, that it’s very possible that the school system has made it a policy to not report criminal incidents at their schools. If they’re not reporting rape, it’s fair to reason that their not reporting assaults, thefts, or child abuse.
    The unfortunate situation here is that a psychologically/mentally vulnerable youth was both twice abused here, first by the rapist, and then again by the school administrators. As this story suggests, not only did the young man get away with the crime the first time it occurred, the negative response to the claims the young lady made not only emboldened the young man to continue with this behavior, but will have a lasting negative affect on the young lady.

  14. kekemichel

    Yes, we do need to hear these stories because rape and domestic violence crosses all demographics. We have to come together across all demographics to cut the prevalence of such violence among all people. You posting this article is a part of “creating awareness.” Awareness and Prevention are major components to cut the prevalence of rape and domestic violence.

  15. Pingback: Dr. Boyce: Girl’s Forced Apology to Rapist Was About More than Race « The Industry Cosign

  16. Jeanne

    Where is the out cry of all the so called stars, muscian, etc. We in the black community need to stop acting like this type of thing does not happen. I agree with the person who said something about the singer R. Kelly. He has had sex with underage girls. Yet we act as if it did not occur. Money should not let people get away with things. We need to take our self worth back than perhaps the young lady and her parents would have pursued the matter. We need to stop looking at these so call stars to defind ourselves. God Bless the young lady.

  17. betty lee

    its very sad that no one really was at her side. may god be with
    you allways.

  18. Unconvinced

    Where were the child’s parents? I know had that been my child, someone in the school administration would’ve been arrested, if my husband and I didn’t get to them first. Hell no, my child would not, and would never apologize to someone who raped them.

  19. It does not matter what race the girl was. The fact that some men have no respect for women says a lot about what they think of the women in their families. This should never happen to anyone. If you have nothing else you have your body which hold everything else that you are. When someone take that it leaves you with nothing left. It is shameful that this happened twice. We as women and have daughters know that we are at risk of this type of behavior 24/7.

  20. Joyce

    Hopefully, someone is legally representing the student that had to give an apology to her rapist and was later raped again. The entire school district should be sued, especially the principal.

  21. I fault the parents. how come this was not taken to the lawenforcement in the begining.. I don’t under stand …my child..the whole “powell” clan would have been on top of this from the begining

  22. Ruby

    Please do not use “I could care less.” The expression is “I couldn’t care Less.”

  23. giddy

    Thank you sista for this article!

  24. I’m not sure you should correlate statutory rape and and rape. I think that is one of the reason folks don’t take rape as seriously should.

  25. JeannieinDallas

    It is a travesty, that we fail to protect our children at home and in the schools. How scarred for life will this little girl be and where were her parents? It is their job first to protect their daughter and to handle the situation even if the school would not !

  26. aziza

    Sad to say that this story doesn’t surprise me at all. I sent many years working as a public school teacher, and I can tell you from personal experience that all kinds of things that should never happen go on in public schools even when people care and try to stay on top of issues. Parents really have to be a childs first and most ardent advocates, but unfortunately many people of all races are simply lacking, or inept in this area for a variety of resons.

  27. R

    WHERE WERE HER PARENTA???It’s something I’m not understanding???


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