Stereotypes Rationalize the Irrational
What is white supremacies biggest tool for upholding power? How do white supremacists get away with the violence towards black people?
By nature, racism is irrational.
“I hate black people” is an irrational opinion to have. When asked, “why?” That is when white supremacists have to justify it. This justification is used with baseless stereotypes where you can attempt to achieve such a rational answer to an irrational stance.
During the slave era, lynching reinforced the institution of white supremacy. As we move out of the slave era, more and more people are starting to question the senseless murders of black people. In connection to these lynchings and countless barbarities, the “Black Rapist” myth was conjured up; accusing a black man of rape was the easiest way to rationalize the senseless lynching of the said Black man. From Emmitt Till to Pervis Payne, we see the uprise in the accusation of rape among Black men.
Towards Till's case:
“Six decades later, Bryant admitted that she had lied and that the parts of her accusation considered most incendiary at the time — that Till had grabbed her and made verbal and physical advances on her — were untrue.”
Towards Payne's case:
“But the prosecution painted a very different picture, making Payne out to be a violent and hypersexual drug user. And, at trial, the prosecutor repeatedly pointed out the victim’s “white skin” when referring to parts of her body, a poignant reminder of her whiteness….”
Another example is the sexual abuses against black women, mainly from white men, often ignored. Once people start to question it, that is when a new stereotype has to drop. Countless contemporary writers at the time would succumb to depicting their black female characters as promiscuous and “up for the taking.”
Why do they do this?
Depicting black people of having a constant sexual urge blocks them from achieving justice.
White women (16.9%) are more likely to have at least one sexual partner in films compared with Black women (13.3%) and other women of color (14.8%). Black female characters and other female characters of color are twice as likely as white female characters to be shown with a degree of nudity (5.2% and 4.9% compared with 2.5%). Compared to white female characters, Black female characters and other female characters of color are twice as likely to be shown in revealing clothing (10.7% and 8.7% compared with 4.5%).
Attempting to rationalize oppression is nothing new.
“The only rational answer is that there was no foundation for such a charge or that the charge itself was either not thought of or was not deemed necessary to excuse the lawless violence with which the [Black people] were then pursued and killed.”
This is why George Floyd and Trayvon Martin are ‘thugs’ before they are victims.