There is a lot wrong in the brutal beating of Pat Mahaney, a 45-year-old white man, by six black teenagers in North College Hill. Sadly and somehow brilliantly, this is a teachable moment about to pass us all by if we don’t start grappling with and then telling some truths.
North College Hill officials — people like police and community leaders — do not want to call Mahaney’s beating a hate crime because of how it will make this little burg appear to outsiders.
Americans are misguided in our preoccupation with outward “peace” at the expense of inner turmoil.
It’s hard figuring this shit out sometimes because of what it may mean: If we tell the unmitigated truth about race-based hatred — even when it emanates from blackness — does it mean a fringe white group also pandering hatred could possibly be right?
It’s hard swallowing the right thing from the wrong people.
Known to some of us as “Knowledge Hill,” the stretch of ranch homes and striving small businesses up Hamilton Avenue north of Northside before you get to Mount Healthy is a clannish part of town, one of those little communities you’d probably pass through but only stop in if you had family or friends there.
And they are keeping a secret.
And they are in a co-dependent relationship with all their “bored” black teenagers who’d roam around and randomly attack an unarmed man from behind, which is what happened when five thirteen-year-olds and a fourteen-year-old came upon Mahaney and decided — widely reported out of “boredom” — to jump and beat him.
The teens beat him, as we used to say in Hamilton where I grew up, to a pulp.
Mahaney’s face is misshapen, bruised and bloodied.
There were two image-control rallies last Friday in North College Hill. One was organized by a pastor to divert attention away from the other and to prove to folks that the rally less than one mile away was “not what (North College Hill) is about.”
The second — a white power rally — was orchestrated by the National Alliance, a fringe, West Virginia-based, white supremacist group which hilariously has a Cincinnati coordinator.
Leader Robert Randell has coined a phrase.
“Hate crime hypocrisy” intrigues me.
I have been to my share of Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist rallies in my day and they’re boring because there’s only so many times you can hear a tone-deaf hatemonger singing, “I wish I was in the land of cotton,” or listen to them go on ad nauseum about niggers, spics, Jews and homos.
Yawn. Been there. Been called that.
And why, if they’re so badass, do they always require police escorts — as the National Alliance did last Friday — out of town?
And isn’t a “white power rally” redundant?
When I think of white power rallies I think of Wall Street and Ponzi schemes, not fools in robes.
Hate crime hypocrisy, as Randell puts it, is precisely what Mahaney’s beating is. This truth stings because it comes from a hate peddler whose intentions are not to educate, enlighten or heal but to cause dis-ease.
I work with black teenagers.
I love black teenagers.
I have been a black teenager and I can only imagine what those six said to one another just before the first blow was thrown and the first kick was kicked and I guarantee Mahaney’s race was uttered from someone’s mouth.
Get that white...
They may never admit it, not even to their weeping mammas.
Ain’t it always black mammas crying for their black sons?
But that is OK.
They don’t have to say this publicly: that, yes mamma, I beat that man. Yes, because I was bored but also because he was white and he looked vulnerable. Yes, mamma, I joined in stomping him because, for once, here was someone I could conquer and instead of running away ... home, back to you, I did beat him.
However, as adults it’s our collective responsibility to teach our (black) children well.
To tell them, as my mamma did, that when they say they’re bored they must be boring.
To show them something to do that doesn’t include the demoralization and humiliation of another human being.
To stop coddling them when they’re wrong, regardless of how publicly ashamed and judged we might feel.
To not let an entire community wrongly play the race card in reverse.
To admit it’s possible that people of color can summon enough hatred and act out on that hatred and to understand that hatred on the level required to beat down another human being isn’t reserved for white supremacists, but it is hatred that can reflux in any one of us because hatred doesn’t care where or when it lands.
Now these six black teenagers have been deemed by the judicial system set up to fail and jail them and by future institutions of education and juvenile delinquency as Serious Youthful Offenders. If indicted by a grand jury they have a right to trials by jury.
If convicted in those trials, because of their designations, they could be susceptible to Ohio’s rarely used mash-up of adult and juvenile sentences that could send them to juvenile facilities but return them to adult prisons if they screw up again as teenagers.
And they will screw up again as teenagers if we don’t intervene on a profound level of emotional, racial and spiritual truth-telling that transcends the empty hallmark of a community rally.
Look these boys in the eyes and connect the dots for them.
Tell them what they’ve done.
Project for them the path they’re on and tell them a boy named Trayvon Martin died in vain if they cannot admit to someone the truth behind what they did to Mahaney.
And please do it swiftly.
Because I cannot bear aligning myself with the likes of Randell one second longer.
Please. God forgive me.
CONTACT KATHY Y. WILSON: [email protected]