On Chris Rock’s first comedy album Born Suspect he did a great bit about knowing the difference between “Black Crime” and “White Crime.”
“Black people aren’t crazy. Black people do stupid things, black people snatch rope chains and rob liquor stores. Black people generally aren’t crazy. When you watch the news and hear somebody got their head chopped off, or somebody drank the blood and used the toes to play pool with, chances are that was a white guy! An old lady kicked down the stairs for a welfare check? Black guy!”
The reason this is funny is because, outside of a few recent instances (The Morgan State cannibal for example) this stereotype has held true. While no one race has a monopoly on crime it certainly seems like the most bizzare “Why the hell would anyone ever even THINK of doing that?” Jeffery Dahmer level crimes are more likely to be committed by white males, even the FBI thinks so. That’s why the horrific double homicide necrophilia case in Joliet, Illinois is so horrific. It doesn’t just reinforce horrible stereotypes about the types of crimes that White men may commit but it highlights an even more disturbing racial trend in the victims that are chosen for these heinous acts.
On January 10th of 2013, 18 year old Alisa Massaro lured two aquaintances Eric Glover and Terrence Rankins to her home promising a good time of sex and video games. When the young men arrived they were jumped and strangled to death by three of Alisa’s other friends. And then things got grisley. According to reports:
“An 18-year-old woman [Massaro] with a necrophilia fetish had three-way sex on the corpses of two men who she and her sexual partners strangled, it was claimed today. Joshua Miner, 24, piled the bodies of Eric Glover and Terrence Rankins, both 22, together and placed a beige sheet across them so he and his longtime girlfriend, Alisa Massaro, could lie together on top of them at Massaro’s home in Joliet, Illinois, according to police reports.”
Alisa Massaro (18), Joshua Miner (24), Adam Landerman (19) and Bethany McKee (18) are all white, and their victims Eric Glover and Terrence Rankins, both in their early 20s, were black. The senselessness and brutality of the crimes has shocked the small town just a few hours outside of Chicago, and it is without question that all of the perpetrators will be tried and likely found guilty. When the police arrived at the home they found Landerman and Miner playing video games and the bodies of Rankin and Glover partially dismembered in various parts of the house. It is unclear what the motivation behind the crimes was, some reports say the quartet thought the two black men were drug dealers and wanted to rob them, but other reports suggest that the necrophilia sex was the main motivation. Regardless, this is a sick and sad story with an even more frightening underbelly.
This homocide is a hate crime, in the most classic definition; where a crime commited against individuals is also intended to be a symbolic attack against all people like them. Usually hate crimes are distinguished by the elaborate and dehumanizing way that the attacks and violence are demonstrated. What is most disturbin abou this crime however, is this seemingly new trend of what I would call ‘aquantaince’ hate crimes. It is bad enough to deface a synogogue or set fire to the home of Muslim family that moves into a new neighborhood, but in this bizzare “post-racial” world we live in it seems as if increasingly these brutal crimes are committed by whites against people that they are friends and aquaintances with.
In 1997 Garret Paul “GP” Johnson was burned and beheaded by two white men he had just been to a birthday party with in Elk Creek, Virginia. In 1998, it was the infamous James Byrd dragging case in Texas. In the 2007 Megan Wiliams case, a 20 year old mentally slow black woman was lured to a trailer by her friend and former boyfriend where she was sexually abused and held hostage for 6 days. She had known these people for years. And the Southern Poverty Law Center as well as the FBI have shown there are a rise in these case, not always as nationally spectacular as the just mentioned but just as horrendous. And more and more these are not random cases of rednecks jumping out of trucks hurling beer bottles and insults but African Americans and whites who have socialized together for years and suddenly one night something perverse happens like what just occurred in Joliet. According to the FBI:
“From 1996 to 2007, the percentage of racial hate crimes committed due to anti-black sentiments was never above 70% (although it did come close at 69.7% in 1996). Since 2008, this percentage has topped 70% every year, peaking at 72.9% in 2008. This regrettable trend could possibly be attributed to several factors.”
One of which is the election of Barack Obama, combined with stagant economic growth and the mainstreaming of white extremism in movies and television. Maybe some, maybe none of these factors had anything to do with the horrible murders of two young men in Joliet a month ago, but the trend remains no less disturbing. Racialized violence and hate crimes are on the rise in America, and it’s no longer confined to the backwoods and hicktowns, no longer confined to being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Long standing seemingly healthy interracial interactions and socialization can be marred by ugly prevailing racism seeping to the surface. It’s not the norm, but it is apparently all too common. I don’t know if Chris Rock would find these young people to just be “crazy” or sick but clearly the racial and crime divisions in America have moved past comedy stereotypes into life and death tropes.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.