Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Event #1: Out In The Night

For my first event, I decided to attend a film showing by the Gender and Women's Studies Department on Novmeber 30th during free period. The film that they showed was called "Out In The Night" directed by Blair Dorosh-Walther. The film follows the journey of four African American lesbians who are charged by New York police for attacking a man who was making homosexual slurs to them along with three other of their friends. However, that is not the whole story. The media is a huge player in the case because the case was made out to be way bigger and way worse for the women than it already was. The seven women were minding their own business walking down the street, when a straight African American male started making gay slurs towards them and all of a sudden attacked them. In order to defend themselves, the women decided to fight back. Sooner or later, many people got involved in the fight and the cops were called. All seven women in the group were arrested. When the women were brought to trial, they were told that they could go one of two ways: they could plead guilty and receive a minor sentence or lead not guilty and let the judge and jury decide their fate. Three of the seven women decided to plead guilty and relieved minimal sentences. However the other four, Renata Hill, Terrain Dandridge, Venice Brown, and Patreese Johnson all plead not guilty, with self defense as their reason for attack, and they were convicted guilty and were all given much more harsh prison sentences. Terrain was given three and a half years, Venice was given five years, Renata was given eight years and Patreese was given eleven years. The media was a huge factor in victimizing the women to the public, making it seem as if the male attacker was the victim and the women were the guilty attackers. Not only because of this story, but this story adds to the societal hype, African Americans always have to be on guard, homosexuals always have to be on guard, and specifically for this case, African American homosexuals always have to be on guard as well. The women were attacked by the African American male because they were homosexual. The women were attacked by the media because they were African American and homosexual.

One can relate this film to our class topic of Color Blind or Color Brave. Color Blindness is when Americans ignore the fact that racism exists in America. Color Brave is when America
acgknowledges that there is racism present in our society and then do something to help people's way of thinking when it comes to racism. In class, we watched a TEDTalk by Mellody Hobson in which she talked about what roles Colorblindness and Color Bravery play in America. Color Blindness plays a big role in this film. Even though the women were attacked because they were homosexual, their story of self defense was never greatly shared because of the media coverage. The media blew
up the situation that they were the attackers simply because they were African American. However, when it came to the trial, the women were looked at as no more than criminals: not homosexuals, not African Americans, just criminals. During the trial, society ignores the fact that they were African Americans and ignored the fact that the media purposely focused on the factor and it made the trial and the women much more worse off. At the end of the entire event, Terrain served two years, Venice served three years, Renata served three years, and Patreese served seven and a half years. Also the city of Newark New Jersey established an LGBTQ community center in order to prevent violence against the LGBTQ community.

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