Question of the Day: An Interracial Dating Double Standard?

CNN recently reported the story of Brian Milligan Jr., an 18-year-old white man who was beaten by a group of 10 to 15 black men, possibly because Milligan was dating a black woman, 18-year old Nicola Fletcher. The couple from Buffalo, NY said they’d been regularly harassed by men and boys in the neighborhood because of their relationship. Milligan had even been shot with paintball pellets two days before the incident. His father now wants the attack to be treated as a hate crime.

More after the jump.

From CNN:

Armed with a chunk of concrete, several assailants beat Brian Milligan Jr. on the back of the head on August 18, leaving a 3-inch gash. They kicked him in the face, breaking his jaw.

Bloodied and bruised, the 18-year-old managed to walk five blocks to his grandmother’s house before being rushed to the hospital.

Milligan’s father believes several African-Americans beat his son, who is white, because he is dating an African-American woman. He wants police to treat the beating as a hate crime. He also has criticized what he calls a deafening silence from the community, police and the national media.

“If this was a black guy who was beaten by a group of white guys for dating a white girl, people would be up in arms,” he said. “There’s a double standard.”

No arrests have been made. In the story it says he suffered blood on the brain and brain swelling from the incident. He also doesn’t remember the beating. Community response to the attack has been muted and one local pastor spoke out about why.

“At first, it didn’t affect me the way that it would have if I heard it was a black teen attacked,” said the Rev. Darius Pridgen, who spent years fighting for civil rights for African-Americans.

“But after I saw his father on TV pleading with the community to find the assailants, I decided I had to go after the people who beat this kid.”

Pridgen said he felt that the community has turned a collective blind eye to the beating. So he gave a fire-and-brimstone sermon at the True Baptist Church on a Sunday after the attack, appealing to his congregation to help find the culprits.

“He didn’t deserve to be beaten this way,” Pridgen recalled saying at the service. “If you believe this, put your hands together.”

If it was a black teen, Pridgen said, “We would have been protesting with flags and everything else.”

Rod Watson also addressed the issue in his column in the Buffalo News. Watson, who is black, pointed out that interracial marriages are nearly 10 times higher than they were in 1960, according to U.S. Census data, but still those couples have a tough time being accepted by society.

“If blacks in Buffalo in 2009 are acting like whites in Selma in 1959, this society has big problems, despite electing a president who is himself the product of an interracial union,” Watson said.

When I read this story I was horrified, as I am, whenever senseless violence occurs. I was also very saddened that this was black people acting violently and behaving as if another black person were their property and beating a man for dating, re: having a potential sexual relationship with their “property.” And that made me feel sick because as Watson points out, that is the same mentality white racists had and still have towards interracial dating. It wasn’t OK to hang, beat, maime, mutilate and murder countless black males for allegedly being involved with a white woman. I don’t see how black people could turn around and act out the same sick pathology knowing what we know about what was done to us. It’s not like this one particular white man was oppressing black people. He was just dating one. What sense does this make? And unlike some of the residents of Buffalo I am just as offended about this as I would be if the roles were reversed. People should be allowed to love and be loved by whomever they choose without fear of nearly dying over it.

But what do you think? Should the men involved with Milligan’s beating me charged with a hate crime? Is the community response slow because of a double standard? Is that double standard warranted? Is there every a scenario where it is OK to react in violence to a situation like this? Was anyone less horrified or unaffected because the victim was a white man and why?

58 thoughts on “Question of the Day: An Interracial Dating Double Standard?

  1. I never heard a thing about this story, and I’m shocked.I do see this as a hate crime. No doubt about it.But if you’re wondeing why the manistream media didn’t run away with this story the way Fox News tried to run away with the black kids beating up the white kid on the bus, well, it’s not like the father thinks. It’s not because his son is white. The media loves a race baiting story that plays out black vs. white and the scary black man who’s going to beat you up and sexually assault your white daughters.I’m pretty sure I never heard this story because of the black girlfriend. The mainstream media is not going to present a story where men, both black and white, are asserting romantic territory over a black woman. In the media, white men will never risk life, limb, and priviledge to be with a black woman. Now I certainly don’t think this woman is anyone’s property to be claimed, but in terms of the dominant media image, white men aren’t going to put black women on a romantic pedestal and white women aren’t going to tolerate her ultimate status being threatened… least of all by a black woman.Sad to say, but this story would have gotten more coverage had the victim’s girlfriend been white, or in the absence of a girlfriend, or if the girlfriend was a boyfriend instead. And they would’ve already identified the attackers.

  2. there no such thing as a hate crime. All crime are hate crime if someone steals from me generally i dont think they like me

  3. Its sometimes seems that we as a species are moving backwards. I mean really? Seing a white man with a black woman made you angry enough to nearly kill this man? Really?

  4. This is definitely a hate crime and should be prosecuted as such. There is a double standard about interracial dating and a lot of other things and, no… that double standard is not justified. I agree that there would have been marching, yelling, screaming, debating, legislating and all kinds of other activity if a bunch of white kids beat up a black one for dating outside of their race. For me, the concept is equally shocking no matter who is the victim and who is the aggressor. The only way violence would be a justified response in this case is if the girl were being forced to have a relationship with the young man and that is clearly not what was happening. There was no issue of "defending" the young woman. I understand the extra step it may take to empathize with someone of another race, especially given the history of oppression blacks have suffered in this country, but that is no excuse. Part of equal citizenship is not only sharing the same rights as everyone else, it is sharing the same responsibilities too! It is infantile to expect equal protection under the law without expecting to be equally bound by those laws and equally punishable should you break them.

  5. The attackers were actually black and yes, it is a hate crime because black men have never looked at black women as anything else than property.

  6. This is very sad and disturbing. I myself am a white man who is married to a black woman and we live with intolerance from both sides daily. We have however had more in your face confrontations from the black community. I never understood how black men seemed to think they owned the rights to my wife when I’m sure most if not all of them have dated a white woman. Why can’t we just learn to love for who we are and not what color our skin is.

  7. Wow, this is a terrible event! I feel sorry for the victim, his gf, and their families. A few people from Buffalo told me that it can be "tough" and "racially divided." But I didn't hear about this beating in the news, just here. A sociologist I know estimated that about 30% of South Asians in US are married to those of other races (usually whites or other Asians). It's probably higher when you consider couples in college or dating steadily. A good guy is a good guy, as my sister says. We just have to RESPECT each other, NOT be best buddies! Some people seem to have forgotten that.

  8. Yes they should have the book thrown at them. It is a hate crime! If they saw this girl being abused and were rising to her defence to protect her, that is different, but these wicked men were just being hateful and they need to be held accountable.

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