Once again in South Carolina, a black man who does not exist was accused of a crime.
This time, it was two white elementary school kids who wanted to skip school in Fort Mill, where I so proudly live with my three black children who are so much greater than me because of who they are.
These two kids used what they were taught or overheard – they blamed a black man for trying to abduct them. The Herald did not report the race of the suspect, because the newspaper generally does not identify suspects by race unless it is part of a more detailed description. The York County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement in which the kids identified their alleged would-be kidnapper as a black male.
Every parent of every race shivered with fear. No parent of any color wanted anything but for this guy to be caught, convicted, and put under the jail.
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Sadly, it was again a story made up to try and fool the cops. Who did these two little white kids blame? The most vilified, beaten down, group in America. Black men.
No other group in America has to prove from birth that they are not criminals. Or dangerous. Or threats.
So these two kids – like so many others before them – told the cops a big black man armed and dangerous with a pocket tool that had a screwdriver sticking out of it like a spear was after them and committed a heinous crime.
There was no crime. No black attacker.
Susan Smith blamed a black man for kidnapping her kids in Union two decades ago. She cried on TV just like these kids. Susan Smith, white, killed her kids. She drowned them.
Yet her story of a black attacker was news all over the world until she finally confessed that she made it up.
Somebody taught her to blame blacks.
In 2001, on a cold November night in Chester, Joe and Joy Pittman were shot-gunned to death in their own home, then their house was burned down. Their 12-year-old grandson, Christopher Pittman, claimed he escaped from a black attacker.
Christopher Pittman had killed his grandparents and when caught by the cops, he did what so many white people do to try to get away – he blamed a black man who did not exist.
Somebody taught him to blame blacks.
In 2009, former York Mayor Melvin Roberts was bound and strangled outside his own home. This is a man who spent his life defending black people, right up until the day he died. In his final case, he successfully defended a black man accused of murder.
Roberts’ girlfriend, Julia Phillips, claimed she was tied up and abducted and kidnapped during the same assault that killed Roberts. She blamed a black man, describing him to police as big and black.
Phillips was then arrested and convicted of murder in Roberts’ death. There was not then, nor has ever been found, any evidence of any black man.
Now, in Fort Mill, students are asking their parents why their classmates would make up a story about a black attacker.
Every one of us will have to tell these children of all races that we do not know why children so young would blame a black man who does not exist for a crime that did not happen.
They will ask this in a state that needed the shooting deaths of nine black people in Charleston last summer – allegedly at the hands of a racist white attacker who claimed blacks were taking over everything – to finally remove from the Statehouse grounds that awful Confederate flag that is a symbol of racial hatred.
Our children will want answers as to why so many white people blame black people.
And the answer will hurt. It will break our hearts.
The answer will be that in South Carolina, to try to get out of something, people blame the race that endured slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, racial hatred, inequality, racial profiling, and many times, murder.
Because of the color of the skin they were born with.