Tuesday, November 12, 2013

At Sarah Lawrence College, a white lesbian accused a black male of rape, then writes a 'poem' alluding to lynching

Annie Robertson, a 21-year-old lesbian, accused Garvey-Malik Ashhurst-Watson, a 22-year-old black man, of rape. Both are students at Sarah Lawrence College, a school that is overwhelmingly female and white.

Mr. Ashhurst-Watson claimed that their sexual encounter was consensual. He says that Robertson told him she was a lesbian but “would make an exception in his case.”

Ashhurst-Watson was arrested and hauled off to custody. He was charged with two counts of sexual misconduct. The charges later were dismissed after a Westchester District Attorney’s Office investigation noted inconsistencies in the accounts and said there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute.

According to a news report, Robertson "put a scathing poem on Facebook, later taken down, which her critics have called racist but which she says is her refusal to be victimized in silence." The poem is odious in the extreme:
How can you tell a woman she is safe when her body no longer belongs to her? When you are finally able to burn me at the stake, frame my ashes for your school’s distinction. Until then, I will be tying nooses with the strong cords of my voice. I will be hanging your boys up and invoking my no until the spirit takes them and their legs stop twitching.
The poem's references to "tying nooses," and "hanging your boys up . . . until the spirit takes them and their legs stop twitching" conjures up images of the darkest, ugliest chapter in our nation's history. The words seem purposefully intended to inflict the deepest sort of pain imaginable. That an educated, young lesbian would write these words, and then defend them by declaring that she won't be victimized in silence, is almost surreal. That there hasn't been a lot more outrage about this poem is beyond mystifying.

To his credit, Mr. Ashhurst-Watson didn't sit still for it. He invoked the memory of young black men being led to slaughter on the basis of nothing more than an accusation of rape by a white woman. “I suppose that when a young woman of her background accuses a young man from mine, in the area of this country where she is from that should be enough to take the freedom of the young man for a long time,” he wrote. “In the past, young men of my background have not only lost their freedom but they have lost their lives, due to baseless charges such as those that have been made against me,” he said. “It is in their memory and out of respect for the sacrifices that my family has made for me that I choose to raise my voice in defense of my character. For all who are not blinded by biases, I have been proven innocent. I will not suffer the consequence of lies.”

Sarah Lawrence College subsequently suspended Mr. Ashhurst-Watson for the remainder of the academic school year. Mr.Ashhurst-Watson's attorneys have responded:  See here.

We don't know what happened between the two students, but we do know that Ms. Robertson should be censured severely for her racist poem.