By ShaRhonda Knott Dawson 

I love my community. I live in an incredibly diverse cluster of suburbs in West Suburban Cook County (Chicago.) By far, the most popular suburb of my local suburban cluster is Oak Park. It is a beautiful village, full of stunning architectural homes by famed architect, Frank Llyod White. It has a super cute downtown with lots of local business and a reputation of being liberal, with lots of rainbow flags and Black Lives Matter signs. However, for all of Oak Park’s charm, like the rest of America, they struggle with racism both with their systems and individuals.

One form of racism that is finally getting some coverage is the weaponization of White women’s fear. Specifically, the racism of White women fears and how that fear manifests itself when the target of the fear are Black boys and men. I believe the only way to eradicate racism, is to talk about racism, honestly. It is in that vein that I write this piece. It is in the interest of speaking truth about racism, that we normally are silent about, that we can address it and finally come up with an end to racism.

So, in order to really stop racism, I want to speak hard truths. And here is the one of the truths I want to share, for us discuss, and to, ultimately stop racism:

White Women in Oak Park are not in danger; White women in Oak Park are dangerous.  

Again, Oak Park is not unique with this phenomenon of scared White women calling the police on Black men. However, it is in my community, so it is easier for me to find data. The issue of scared White women calling the police on Black people is an American problem. It has even been recently parodied on Saturday Night Live. Although I am talking about Oak Park statistics, this is not an Oak Park problem.

The Oak Park Police Department released it crime statisticsfor 2018.  For those who actually care about the facts and statistics, it is not a surprise, that Oak Park is still a relatively safe community.  There were 1,650 investigated crimes. But, check this out, the amount of calls to the police was 66,286!

Oak Park Police Chief LaDon Reynolds said the data underscores the fact that, “Oak Park is a very safe place to live, work and raise a family.”  However, what I want us to pay attention, is this next part: 

“I understand how word of a specific crime or type of crime can shape one’s perceptionof personal safety,” he said. “But I also believe these numbers should allay the concerns of residents whose perception of crime may be based more on news reports and social media posts. 

White women, I need to tell you something difficult; you are not in danger from Black men/Black children. Black men do not want to harm you.  The truth is, White Women in Oak Park are not in danger; White women in Oak Park are dangerous.  

This myth of “fragile, in danger of attacks by Black men, White women” is as old as America in the movie, “Birth of a Nation.” This narrative is as recent as the manifesto written by Dylann Roof, the terrorist who assassinated 8 members of the church in South Carolina.  This idea of White women being fragile and in need of saving from Black men or POC is still seen and used as a tool of racial oppression today. 

While it a new academic field of study, that of White fragilityand White women being perceived as helpless and in need of saving, as a tool of racism, it is something that Black folks and POC know intimately.

What does this have to do with Oak Park?  I wish we could just ignore the White Oak Park women, who believe myths about being perceived danger..  But the reality is nationally, and locally, scared White women, spreading myths about being in danger, are extremely dangerous to Black community and have real consequences. 

Actual crime in Oak Park: Oak Park Police investigated 1,650 crimes in 2018, Burglaries and thefts, which historically represent the vast majority of crime in the Village, remained the biggest categories at nearly 87 percent of all crimes committed in the community in 2018.

Number of calls to the police:Police responded to 66,286 calls for service in 2018. 

The police currently do not track the amount of stops or harassment to citizens.  But, I would posit that although there were only 1,650 actual crimes; the number of calls to the police for “service” (aka a White woman feeling scared) 66,286, is the more important number.  How many Black people, especially Black boys, were stopped, harassed, scared, or arrested by those 66, 286 calls? 

Seriously, 66, 286 calls to the police?  For a total of 1, 650 actual crimes, and these were not violent crimes, the vast majority were, “crimes of opportunity?” 

My challenge to White women is this: get out of your fantasy and into reality. You are NOT in danger of Black men, you are dangerous to Black men.  You need to work to eliminate unconscious racial biases. Also, let’s stop this narrative of White women being weak.  I know many of you, and you are not helpless; you are strong women. Lastly, the most dangerous demographic to White women in Oak Park are White men in Oak Park.  

And, for the love of God, stop calling the police every time you are scared.

Just stop. 

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