Thursday, April 13, 2006

THE DUKE LACROSSE TEAM -- AN IRONIC METAPHOR?

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore--
And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

   -- Langston Hughes


Writing about the Duke debacle, one of Bloomberg's syndicated columnists invoked the rhetorical question asked by poet Langston Hughes, whose query presaged the eruption of the civil rights movement in the sixties.

As the days and weeks since the lacrosse team incident have passed, the resentment born of poverty and generations of dreams deferred, because of race and lack of education, has bubbled up to the surface once again in Durham -- a small city of 148,000 which is fairly evenly split along racial lines.

The incident can no longer be defined as the result of male college athletes continuing their historically misogynistic treatment of women.

Race is clearly driving it now. Be assured that if a typical Duke coed, white and upper middle class, had gone to the police and claimed she had been sexually assaulted by members of the lacrosse team, the crime would have remained a local incident. Such is the status quo of most assaults perpetrated on women by men on campuses across America.

But not in a southern town, especially in this sensitive day and age, when the accused males are white athletes and the woman is black.

A black woman at a recent press conference on the North Carolina Central University campus, where the alleged victim attends class, wanted to know why she had been taken to Duke hospital for her rape kit exam.

Clearly, anything having to do with the university was suspect, not just the three young lacrosse players as claimed by the victim. Essentially the angry questioner impugned the integrity of the hospital personnel because she assumed they would be part of a cover up, since they were white.

To his credit, the white district attorney, Mike Nifong, who has been obsequious in his deference to the black community while handling this case, refused to dignify her question with an answer.  

One player hasbeen suspended, the coach has resigned, and a highly ranked team's entire season has come to a premature end. All despite a lack of DNA evidence. More and more the young woman's accusations are beginning to look like she said, he said.

Many lacrosse players have left campus worried for their safety. There are concerns about drive by shootings aimed at Duke students still living in the area surrounding the house where the incident took place.

Rightly or wrongly, one of the finest lacrosse teams in the country has been dismantled by one woman's -- so far unsubstantiated -- allegations.

The question to ask is -- whose dreams have been deferred now? Whose hopes and inspirations have been put on hold? Who will feel the anger of suppression, the frustration of inequity and the impotent rage caused by racial prejudice?

Langston Hughes' poem, so spare and simple, yet so devastatingly powerful, takes on a new, and surely unintended, meaning.

4 comments:

cyandfayedavis said...

Bravo!!!

screaminremo303 said...

I know nothing about Duke University except that they have a basketball program and their football team stinks. It seems the reaction of the University and the coach is a genuflection towards the anticipated race-baiting to take place. Innocent until proven guilty? Perhaps, but today's society demands that facts be pushed aside in favor of calamity and commotion.

What bleeds, leads.

Athletes and hookers? What gives?? Couldn't they just find a nice piccolo player from the pep band?

jevanslink said...

The woman who wondered why the victim was taken to Duke Medical Center had goodreason to worry. And not because of any cover up.  Duke Hospital has had a couple of notable screw ups in recent years -- they killed one patient when they forgot to check whether the heart they were transplanting into her body matched her blood type.  Ooops.  And somehow several operations took place with instruments that had been cleaned in some kind of hydraulic oil.  Mrs. L

ksquester said...

Oh this post is worthy of being on page 1 of the newpaper. BRAVO!!!   Anne