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 think we need a better understanding of the purpose of hate crime designation. Typically this is used in particular cases where otherwise the sentence might be light. In this particular case, which looks like clear-cut attempted murder to me, I don’t think there’s any chance of a light sentence. Prosecutors prefer to use the term hate crime sparingly because juries are crazy and it can backfire quite easily. A majority black jury might be reluctant to convict under these circumstances if the term hate crime is involved. Was it a hate crime? I have no doubt that it was. Is it politic to designate and prosecute it as such? It depends.

  2. This makes me so angry, and I’ve heard/read things like this before (remember the military couple whom were murdered by the guy’s COMRADES?) It just adds to the list of why men of other races who might be attracted to black women don’t date us because there’s too many "complications" that come along with it–maybe they’re right.

  3. Yes, it is a hate crime. If the girl had been beaten by white men/women, everyone and their grandmother plus Al Sharpton would have been protesting. And I still wonder why interracial relationships are still seen as a taboo.I’m sure some of those men who beat the boy have white or hispanic grilfriends, etc. And their genealogy might also reflect some interracial lines (though perhaps under different circumstances).It is a hate crime…. disgusting attitude. If the leaders in that community do not say something about this, then this reflects badly on them and all.PS: Did the boy die? The article begins with beaten to death but further down says he has no recollection of the beating…

  4. If this isn’t a hate crime, then I sincerely dont know what is. No one deserves to be brutalism over whom they date. We are supposed to EVOLVE as a people. Move forward, show tolerance, and patience, and this is how we treat each other (Im talking beyond black and white). This is ridiculous; and heart breaking.

  5. It is a hate crime. Intolerance is ugly and multi-directional. I agree with donnadara: Black women are not the property of the Black community. As a Black woman in a relationship with a man of another race and culture, this story sends chills down my spine.

  6. yes, it isa hate crime. but I need a little clarification. did the young man die from the incident or is he still alive. I wasn’t sure of his state after reading the article.

  7. It was because of this story that my boyfriend’s parents were concerned about our relationship and his safety. We’ve been together for six months and never had any trouble until last week when his parents found out what happened in Buffalo, an hour away from where we live. We discussed it a lot because I was so frustrated by the behaviour of the boys who did this. What could I possibly tell his parents that would make them feel better? How is it that we’re in 2009 and interracial relationships are still a curiosity to many people? And why hasn’t that community stepped forward to show their support to the boy’s family and the police in helping to catch the youths who did this? Clearly there’s some double standard at work.

  8. I oppose the idea of hate crime penalties altogether. I think a white man that beats a white man’s face in with a brick has the same hate and evil inside of him that he would while beating a black man’s face in with a brick.However, legally speaking this case meets every element of a hate crime. Simply, the crime was motivated by race. A black man mugging a white man isn’t a hate crime – the motivation is theft and race is a secondary issue. In the case at hand, the white man was beaten because of race, ergo it meets the requirements of a hate crime.Am I surprised? Not in the least. We still have so much hate. White, black, red, brown, yellow Americans still hating each other is bad for our country.White guy – the black kid did not steal your spot at Harvard, you weren’t getting in to Harvard anyway.Black guy – that white guy’s great grandfather didn’t own yours, his family was still in Slovakia then.Everyone – that Mexican didn’t steal your job, you have never dug a ditch in your life.Many people maintain their power by promoting ideas that fuel racism and fear mongering – stop listening to those idiots and build the society we have been talking about for a few hundred years.

  9. Hate crime? Sure.But there should be some mention of the swiftness with which this story hit the national spotlight. And why.

  10. "A majority black jury might be reluctant to convict under these circumstances if the term hate crime is involved."and why would that be?yes, if the intentions of his beating had anything to d with him being white then it IS a hate crime. i notice that no one (except yolanda) covered the white marine officer and his black wife who was killed by his 4 black subordinates.

  11. Hate crime..uh..this was a pure act of voilence regardless of race. Doesn’t matter whether it was hate or not..they need to go to jail…PERIOD

  12. @ Faith, et alSorry about the confusion folks. This is why editors are a beautiful thing. Fixed it.

  13. It’s also sexual insecurity which drives people to hate and commit crimes such as this. It’s just as bad when black people demonstrate an inferority complex. Treat this as a hate crime.

  14. hate crime!it frustrates me so, the mentality many Black men have towards Black women (I guess white men are the same regarding white women, hell maybe men of all races). It’s okay for a man to date outside of their race, but when a woman does it, she supposedly has identity issues or something. Any woman of any ethnicity is good enough for them, but for women the only man that would be befitting of them has to be of her own ethnic background. Get over yourselves.

  15. I’m wondering if this is as simple as some suggest; that these Black men were exerting ownership of the Black woman in the inter-racial relationship. I wonder what other more complex dynamics might have been at play? Was this more about a feeling of weakness and inadequacy? A lot of the violence by White men toward Black men had to do with feeling like they were losing control. Did feelings of weakness lead them to do this? A lot of the violence perpetrated by White men against Black men was done by poor White men who felt weak. Could this be that? Isn’t the basis for racial animus based in weakness and insecurity? Anyway I’m wondering if looking for the deeper reasons will help to stop things like this from happening in the future. Also I’m not making excuses for these Black men any more than I would make excuses for White men doing this. I would just like to have a deeper understanding of the root causes of violence like this.

  16. the attackers need to be found and punished to the full extent of the law, this is just sick and terrifying

  17. @ SWIV:"A majority black jury might be reluctant to convict under these circumstances if the term hate crime is involved." — And why would that be? ***Because you’ll effectively ask possibly ten to twelve African American’s if one rugged beat down is the equal to being dragged from a truck until your limbs separate from your torso (Jasper, TX). And while we can both be as high and mighty about it as we’d like, you know damn well it wouldn’t take more than ten minutes for a jury with that potential composition to emphatically reject the comparison. Yes it’s terrible what happened. But can we please not act as if black men go around beating up white dudes who date outside their race every day? Save hate crime legislation for the causes and conditions for which it was passed. . …. and this guy ain’t why.

  18. so because one crime resulted in death, and the other didn’t, that makes it LESS of a hate crime? that’s pretty piss poor logic right there. and the people who would use said logic don’t belong on a jury because that ruling would show their inherent bias, prejudice and bigoted viewpoints. no one said this happens ALL the time. but when it does happen, and the reasoning behind it is based on the victim’s race, it’s a hate crime.

  19. Why are we assuming the father is right about who attacked his son and why? How many times have you heard white guys complaining about reverse racism because they didn’t get a job they were not really qualified for or because a black person was mean to while shopping? The only evidence the father has that this was a hate crime against his son for his dating choice is the picture of his son and a black girl. He doesn’t even know who the assailants are. For all he knows he got attacked by white people for dating a black girl. Or maybe it has nothing at all to do with who he’s dating at all. Yes, it is a crime that this kid was attacked. But, I’ve seen no evidence that this is a hate crime or that it has to do with his relationship at all.

  20. Who knows, maybe the attackers were white. Regardless of their color, the attackers must be brought to justice for this despicable crime.

  21. This was racist, sexist, and terrorist in nature. Black women are not the "property" of Black men, just like Black men are not the property of Black women, which Black men are often so eager to make known when it comes to their dating options.

  22. I must also say we weren’t there.Maybe white guy walks past a group of black guys from the neighborhood…"Yo, ain’t you the cracker dating that sista Nicola?""Damn straight, she wanted a real man, not some punk hangin’ on the corner with no job! Where is your girl tonight, I’ll hit that too" (beating follows)ORWhite guy was a dealer and got his ass beat in a deal gone wrong.OR White guy has a true addiction and love for a "lil’ bit of chocolate chip" and another sista’s boyfriend was beating his ass for messing with his girl.We don’t know. Call me the mean and heartless, but…if the neighbors are already shooting you with paint balls – what the fuck you doin’ walkin’ around the hood alone at night?

  23. I’m a black woman, who has only been in relationships with men of another race. If somebody has problem with my relationship, I tell my boyfriend to stand aside and I will check the ignorant party myself. I’m not playing these caveman games with people. It is 2009. If they can’t accept people the way they are then they will have to deal with their ignorance in the privacy of their own home. Nobody should involve themselves in anybody’s business. It was a hate crime and the men who did that should be brought to justice. It’s time out for games.

  24. One again, @ SWIV: "…so because one crime resulted in death, and the other didn’t, that makes it LESS of a hate crime? that’s pretty piss poor logic right there. and the people who would use said logic don’t belong on a jury because that ruling would show their inherent bias, prejudice and bigoted viewpoints."***Let’s talk mechanics. Actual human beings would be deciding this case. And they’ll come to court with all their racial history in tow. Not a thirst for revenge …. just a slow, steady accumulation of the sort of race-infused history one owns when you’re brown and living in America. At some point, the question becomes this: where exactly is the inherent bias in declining a straight white male legal redress under a hate crime statute? Or, better put, where exactly might one find a detailed history of gruesome violence directed toward white males due solely to the color of their skin? Since we both know no such catalogue exists, let’s ask another question. If enough examples were found, who makes the argument to a potentially black-majority jury pool that it should cover this guy? What does the advocate for a conviction look like? A black prosecutor? A white female prosecutor? A black female prosecutor? How likely is it that, hours into a deliberation–post final arguments–that at least one person in that pool has a serious issue with affording a straight, white American male his legal props under the cover of a hate crime’s law? And, mechanics-wise, any jury pool would have to have at least two or three African American’s on it, given the dynamics of the case. The optics of an all white jury looking at a case like this would be a championship-caliber disaster.Think about it.

  25. For it to be categorized as a hate crime, there has to be some indication of intent. If the violence was a result of his interracial relationship, then it is truly sickening. I can’t speak on the "community response", mostly because it’s something that often gets confused with the media response.

  26. lets look at the letter of the LAW. i don’t believe anywhere in the law it states that in order to qualify for a hate crime, one must lost a body part. or one must lose a life. or one must be chained to a truck or hung from a tree. in nowhere are these "stipulation" stated in the legislation. nor does it state that because white people have perpetrated hate crimes against blacks for centuries that the converse is thus not true. the letter of the LAW states none of that. if one cannot take into account the LAW itself, the definitions and the logic behind it, then they do not deserve to sit on a jury because they are inherently biased and prejudiced. quite possibly, a jury of majority blacks would not find this a hate crime. however, if the evidence points as such, then that jury of majority blacks did and do not have the best interest of the law and justice at heart and thus are not qualified to sit on a jury. i’d like to think that jury that is majority black would be able to take into account the law and justice. however, obviously you believe otherwise.

  27. snobfanforealYour lack of faith in juries, and your analysis in general are on point. Your analysis highlights something – I think you are correct that many in the black community think that hate crime legislation was solely for them. It’s no surprise considering that a lot of politicians were running around black communities saying, "Look what I did for you, to protect you." I agree with you on how this case would play out with a jury.There is a conundrum here. Hate crimes are often related to race, but in the justice system we are expected to apply them in a race neutral way. As in, a black victim and a white victim must be treated the same. The appellate types like to talk about legislative and factual history behind legislation or a law. In this area, the history that prompted this legislation was mostly about incidents like Mr. Byrd in Texas. This is twisted. We want to promote racial harmony, but one of our race-based protections may only be available to one race. Granted, the history is real – this white victim in Buffalo has probably never had anything like this happen in his family. But the old women from my old neighborhood could tell stories for days about similar things happening to black men. But shouldn’t today’s policies be about today’s realities? Again we are twisted. What is it we are trying to accomplish with hate crimes on the books? I think it is backward thinking and wrong – you should get prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for bashing a man’s head in, regardless of race. What about me? I’m mixed. Consider:Black guy stabs for gettin’ with his woman, a white guy does the same. During the stabbings – the black man calls me cracker and the white man calls me mulatto. So do both get charged with a hate crime? Neither?A mormon in Utah told me my church was a lie – I was going to hell and that he wanted me to get out of his state. I used the word mormon several times as I showed him my Ike Turner impression. Hate crime? Or is it the Hate Crime Defense? I don’t like hate crime designations and I hope my examples and snobfanforeal’s jury analysis show some of you why they should be abandoned.

  28. This is terrible.If a Black woman wants to date a White guy or Asian, good luck to them. It really isn’t anybody’s business. This reminds me of an episode when I was with a female friend of mine, she is Black and her boyfriend is Asian. As we waited for a lift, a bunch of Asian guys walked past and started to abuse us all in their language and he is Asian and undertsood what they were saying. Another time, we were waiting in a Chinese restaurant for a table and a bunch of Black guys started to a give them both dirty looks and really glare at both of them, although they did not say anything.I have also seen this happen when a Black guy is with a White girl and the Black guy has experienced verbal abuse from the White guys because he is with a White woman.The way some people behave is as though people are their property or something. The fact is that some people need to mind their own business. If someone is going out with another person of an opposite race, that is who they want to be with. Sometimes, people just need to mind their own business, look away and stop poking their noses into other people’s affairs…Geeeez!Also, I find a lot of Black guys going out with White women, but these same guys will complain if they see a Black woman going out with a White man. This smells like a double standard to me. Some people need to mind their own business.As far as White men dating or wanting to date Black women….I personally would say that White men love Balck women, although some of them like to pretend as if they don’t. As a beautiful Black woman, I have seen a number of white guys trying to give me some signs or show interest or stop me in the street to talk to me and my sister, however, personally, I am not interested in going out with a White man. Not being racist, I have been out with a White person on one occasion, he was a really nice guy in every way, but it really is not for me. White guys are nice and everything, but I just could not face the unwanted attention from the public, the constant stares and glares from people of all races anytime we went out. We owuld go out and hold hands and people would look at us with interest, watching as though it was the latest soap opera on TV. We would sit on the underground/subway and talk and people would stare at us constantly, I found this to be extremely uncomfortable. I am a very private person. Let’s just say I felt uncomfortable with the whole thing.Also, I find that some White guys tend to think they are more superior, no matter how much they like you, it just appears as though they think they are more superior to Black and I certainly did nont like that. If we are going out, we have to be equals or nothing at all, thank you.

  29. and why would that be?

    Because as I mentioned in my original post, juries are crazy and liable to do anything. It’s best not to give them too much fuel to run amok with.

  30. There’s definitely a double standard when it comes to black women dating white men. The truth is: Most interracial couples are black men and white women (though more brothers are also dating Asian women). As a matter of fact, according to the U.S. Census, black men now marry women outside of their race more than ANY OTHER ETHNIC group. The message being sent is that brothers can date (and marry) whoever they want but we can ONLY be with a brother! That’s just more of the bullsh** brothers have been feeding sisters daily to control us and "keep us in our place." But black women can either continue to believe that–and spend our lives ALONE or as one of the BABY MAMAS–or we can open up our eyes, minds and hearts and start dating men of other races regardless of the backlash. If I knew then what I know now, I would have started dating white men years ago! Hopefully, black folks will speak up and the men who committed this cowardly act will be punished to the fullest extent of the law!

  31. If the perpetrators of that horrible crime are not caught and punished, then the black community is breeding and nurturing another Dunbar Village

  32. thanks for the clarification. saw a mention of this on the AOL news site that is my computer’s homepage. It’s getting the coverage it needs

  33. Treated as a hate crime? HADES YES it should! The couple said they were harrassed by the men & boys of the neighborhood because they were together. Monie above made a good point. These Black men (as their White counterparts who have done the same exact thing)felt inadequate and out of control. And thats basically the roots of all bigotry.

  34. To answer the article’s question I don’t believe there is a double standard and I would say that I think that black women dating interracially is done with the same intensity as black men. This is evident in the fact that it’s often promoted by black women in media outlets, like magazines for example.As for as the severity of this crime I think it speaks for itself. I think it was horrible and I think that the perpretrators should be prosecuted with a hate crime as it appears the evidence bears that result. I heard about this incident through a co worker just today and was very disturbed by it. I heard of a previous incident some time ago involving a white Marine Sergeant and his black wife being killed by his black subordinates. It is obvious that this doesn’t happen everyday but it does happen. And I am concerned with what would appear to be a growing number of black men who react with anger when black women date outside the race. It makes no sense. Many black women do not want to date black men period. Even if they were single they often would not want to be with a black man. I’ve met many black women who expressed this viewpoint for a variety of reasons from percieved black male intellectual inferority, laziness or inability to be the strong vocal point of a family. Regardless of their reasons there is no excuse for this. As a black man I hope this sort of madness does not continue. My prayers go out to the family.

  35. Hate crime? -YesCommunity and media not concerned? -YesI can relate to this story personally. As an Italian American dating a black woman, i’ve been put through some sh*t simply because of the woman I love. And not everyone may believe me but most all of it has come from black men! Ocassionally black women but for the most part they are understanding. What’s crazy, and even my girlfriend will testify to this, is that we have never gotten problems from any white people. It seems that a lot of black men have a serious problem with us dating. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t every black man, but it is suprising how many truly don’t like it. I’ve been in serveral altercations and fights due to this (good thing daddy didn’t raise a punk LOL). In all seriousness though, its just sad. Wake up people!!! Our president is mixed, get used to it. If you are seriously upset over who someone else is dating then you need to fix something in your life. We all need to start f*cking each other and making babies so that we’re all the same color. Maybe then people will evolve. Thanks for reporting this story. I wish a speedy recovery to Brian and I hope this tragic event will only make he and Nicola’s bond stronger.

  36. The designation "hate crime" applies to penal laws where the punishment provision has been increased because of a finding of an additional mens rea requirement, namely, that of the crime being done for a socially-irresponsible motive, such as racial oppression. In other words, it is meant to shock the perpetrators by increasing their punishment because they acted out of a racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. motive, rather than out of simple personal animosity.If, as the father alleges, the victim were beaten because he is white and in a relationship with a black woman, I believe this fits the definition of a "hate crime." While many of the exacerbating social factors are not present when the victim is white (e.g., the history of oppression and violence), it’s still something we as society should judge as worse than a normal aggravated assault.

  37. Hate crime is by definition when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, or political affiliation.In other words, Hate crime is a hate crime and should be punished as thus.If people are to be considered equal, then people need to be looked on equally–i.e. if white men do this to a black man for dating ‘their race’ it’s a hate crime, why is it any different for the reversal…?And I am not a fan of men claiming ownership of a female just because of her race and that she should follow their rules!

  38. One of my friends is black and she’s dated white and Asian guys before, and notices that when she walks around with her boyfriends she often gets angry looks from black men (not so much black women) or comments about what she’s "trying to prove" by dating a non-black man. I feel like it’s a classic situation of a combination of oppressions – not only racism, but also sexism – that it’s seen as "uppity" for black women to date men of other races, or as though they somehow "belong" to the black community. By contrast, while there is still a lot of racism leveled at black men who date non-black women, it seems to be more accepted. Being men, they don’t "belong" to anyone, but in our patriarchal society, women do. And frankly, it’s ridiculous.

  39. Even if the attackers are white if the reason was because of the victim dating a black girl then it is still a hate crime. The race of the perps doesn’t matter.

  40. its sick some of you are even questioning or trying to blame the white guy on this one. The girlfriend was THERE when it happened shes the one who told the father what had happened, secondly their have been previous engagements of harassment with the victim before, such as being shot with a paintball think he was saying something to them? THEIR WERE 10-12 men there are you people insane?

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