St. Thomas Law Review

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This article proceeds in four sections. Section I begins with a brief historiography of the danger of White gendered racism to Black life; specifically, when White women falsely accuse Black men of crimes. The seriousness of this provocative history is undisputed. It has been captured as a movie adaptation of a famous novel, well documented in academic scholarship, sang in negro spiritual songs, described in countless media stories, and documented by the federal government when the accusations involved brutal retaliation-style killings. After discussing the historical underpinnings of gendered racism, Section II uses a case study of a White woman, named Amy Cooper, who falsely accused a Black man, Christian Cooper, of a crime, not only putting his life in danger, but using the privilege associated with her Whiteness as a weapon against Black freedom and equality. Her story is important, not only because of the absurdity of her actions, which we all were able to see due to social media, but because they connect the anti-Black racism of the past to our present. By taking a deep dive into the narrative of that unbelievable historical moment, I reveal her actions for what they really are – contemporary racial violence; and she for who she really is – a White woman who weaponized her race and gender, without compunction, to put an innocent Black man in harm’s way. This section also dissects her actions as a set of specific acts that you see repeated again-and again by White women who routinely call the police on Black people. I call it a White women’s anti-Black racist “playbook.” This article concludes with a brief discussion of some of the legal solutions that have been enacted to deter and punish this behavior. I use this conclusion not to say that the law can fix the very problem that it created, the stereotype of Black men as criminals and rapists, but to reveal that society can legislate away hate and racism. In other words, the Law, which more often is a problem for Black existence, has the potential to serve as a solution by empowering police departments and prosecutors to punish White women (and men) who make false accusation to the police. While punishment under these laws might, at first, seem harsh, their real value lies in the fact that they have the potential to put White people on notice of their privilege, and change the cultural narrative of White privilege in this country. Of course, it should go without saying that the only real value of these laws would be their usage by the Criminal Justice System, which seems unable to convict White people of committing crimes when the victim is Black.