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words for the neighborhood assailant
a response to rape in my local zone
by alex b (@Lexistential)
8.20.07
writing


Hey. YOU.

Yeah, I'm talking to you. I don't know your name, but "vile excuse for human life" springs to mind because you robbed, raped, and sodomized a young woman in my neighborhood.

In my mind, you're perfect for prostate surgery with freshly heated pokers, but reality has the unsatisfying truth: you're a mystery, an abstract figure people are trying to identify with very little information. Your police profile consists of a sketch and a set of basic statistics saying you are 5'5", Latino, and 150 lbs. News outlets have no additional data. The only definitive thing the cops can say about you is that you're out there somewhere.

But, even though you're an absent suspect in your unknown whereabouts, in my neighborhood, you're guilty—and a bunch of other things, too.

You're a thieving asshole for targeting our girl and her money, and the completely sick fuck who raped and sodomized her. Since you did it on our turf—in the alley near 26th and Ditmars, five minutes from my job and friends' homes—you're the deviant piece of shit who defiled the regular warmth and safety of our neighborhood, and showed us ugliness can happen in our local zone. You are no longer just one rapist at large, but the one who woke us up. Though you're still out there, we talk about you again and again. Especially so you're found.

As my neighbors and I rehash your dirty details, I speculate if there are any clues in your day-to-day identity that explain it. When we think about your theft, I wonder if you're an unemployed wastrel who lives in the basement of his mother's house, or if you robbed our girl because you couldn't afford chilling with the boys, weed, and Dunkin Donuts on your own. When we look at your sexual assault, I want to know if you have sisters, or if you ever abused a girlfriend. As we talk amongst ourselves, I know we won't learn if you're a broke-assed bum, or if you bullied our girl out because you hate the women in your life. But, who you are doesn't concern us as where you are. You're still out there.

Wherever you are, I doubt you're concerned over shame, but thankful you're free—and that you're going to stay that way. Prosecuting and punishing you seems damn near impossible, especially since you're just one of countless 5'5" Latino guys who weighs about 150 lbs in the entire New York City area. No one knows where to find you because no one knows where to start, especially without additional evidence. You look like you'll remain unpunished, just like countless other rapists before you. That makes you one really lucky bitch of a son.

Except, of course, in my neck of the woods.

Though I hope you never set foot in my neighborhood again, a few people in it want to have a word with you. The cops are ready to give you your Miranda rights, but if you're a special case who interrupts them with middle-finger sign language, they'll gladly beat your ass and leave it out of the arrest report. Local business owners, firemen, and blue-collar union boys are itching to crack their knuckles in a similar conversation. Even the Greek community wants to meet your dumb, Deliverance-deserving ass for a chat. Some of them are little old widows who can't speak English, but quite a few are young, scrappy, over six feet tall—and male.

Oh, hang on a second—so are you. But, that's just technical.

Sure, you're a biological mass with XY chromosomes and a set of nuts to scratch, but you're not a real man. Your ID lists you as "Male" instead of "Sick Fuck," but no, you don't deserve to call yourself a real man. No real man robs, rapes, and sodomizes a woman. Real men earn money, and listen to a woman's right to say no. Real men regularly have sex with wives, girlfriends, partners, and lovers because of actual, bona-fide appeal. You only got laid because you had a knife.

Here's another thing: you're an embarrassment to your people, the Latino community.

Believe it or not, your actions have greater consequences past a few extra bucks or the cops looking for you. Since you are Latino, your assault empowers prejudice, shits on your culture's beautiful nuances, and collectively makes your people resemble the degenerate asshole you are in the eyes of the biased, fearful, and ignorant. So congratulations, macho—you fucked your own people, too. If a restaurant line cook, college student, or cab driver hears the word "spic" spat at him by a bunch of cops who think he looks like you, then I hope your community strings you up by your cojones.

Furthermore, every moment of your night in my neighborhood is proof you're a coward, chicken, and weak. Don't believe me? Well, look closer.

Robbing our girl? You were desperate for money. Dragging her into the alley? You realized you stupidly robbed her right down the street from nearby bars with brawny beer drinkers, so you needed to hide. Raping and sodomizing her? You were terrified she would call for help, so you fucked her up to shut her up. Running out of the alley? You were scared shitless the cops would gut you, right down to every step you sprinted and how much your heart pounded in your chest.

Some guy you are—you weren't man enough to stick around. But, someone else matters more than you and your sorry existence: our girl.

Though my neighbors and I can quickly write you off as a piece of garbage without feeling a migraine, our girl doesn't have that luxury.

Right now, she's suffering from every physical, emotional, and spiritual consequence of your decision to put yourself where you certainly didn't belong—a place you violated for a momentary thrill, and one she can't think about without your face showing up. Thanks to you, she is shattered, afraid, hurt, and incapable of remembering she's beautiful.

Worst of all, she thinks she's weak.

But, when our girl eventually recovers—and, she will—she'll know you're a despicable piece, too. She's going to cut down the intense, toxic brambles you planted from your sexual assault: self-doubt, sexual fear, and seeing you in every man she meets or likes. She is even going to realize that she wasn't weak that night in the alley, but strong enough to survive you, and when she does, she will succeed in castrating every single nightmare you caused without kicking your ass. She doesn't know it yet, but she's more powerful than you are with threats, a knife, and genitalia. But, she will.

So here it is, YOU.

Do your best to ignore how much of a sad sack of shit you are. Call yourself tough, strong, or brave. Keep applying revisionist history to your conscience. Sniff some paint fumes to cement your delusions.

Believe you're a man, even though you look at your feet in the presence of real men, but say it again when you jerk off and no one else can hear you. Drown your sorrows in a cheap bottle of liquor you can only afford when you scrape your savings together from the change in the couch cushions and pennies on the sidewalk, especially when you think about how most women don't pick sad sacks of shit.

Most of all, count your freedom and anonymity as blessings. Copies of your police sketch are on display throughout my neighborhood.


ABOUT ALEX B

An expert in coloring outside the lines while reading between them, Alex B has a head for business, bod for sin, and weakness for ice cream during all seasons. Apart from watching Bravo marathons and enjoying haute bites here and there, she writes about TV, pop culture, and coloring outside even more lines. She sneaks Tweets via @lexistential.

more about alex b

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COMMENTS

dan gonzalez
8.20.07 @ 1:48a

Christ almighty, I'm gonna have to dye my hair and have my penis shortened to get out of this one. Short latino indeed...

My honky wife keeps pointing out to me a disturbing trend, which is that more and more sex crimes, particularly rapes and pedophilia, are being committed by spics. (ne: Latin Americans)

There was one in our neck of the woods, and it was by a 5'6" Spanish-speaker. In your hood, the dude was 5'5".

I'm just saying, on behalf of all Mexicans of efficient height, that it ain't us! It's those fuckin' psychos from Honduras and Guatemala and shit. Don't lump us in with those savages, there's good spics and there's bad spics, and good spics love the ladies, and respect them!

alex b
8.20.07 @ 8:06a

Every time I read about Flips committing rape, pedophelia, and incest, my "pride in my people" factor flies down the shitter, too. Every race has its share of rapists, and it sucks for all of us. (Oh, and I know good spics are respectful to the ladies- Cheech said so on From Dusk Till Dawn).

[edited]

adam kraemer
8.20.07 @ 2:13p

Heck, I live in that neighborhood. I'm just glad I don't look like the wanted poster.

reem al-omari
8.21.07 @ 3:01a

What a sick fuck. He's an embarassment to the entire human race, not just Latinos... though I personally don't even think of using the actions of one individual to judge an entire community, or even bring the community or group this person belongs to into the equation. God knows I've felt the brunt of that after 9/11.

tracey kelley
8.21.07 @ 9:28a

Alex, this is so incredibly powerful. And whether it's a nobody or a "somebody" (because, honestly, who is Uncle Kracker anymore?) any man that has to steal sex is always, and forever will be, less than every other human being on the planet.

There has been a rise in Latino crime throughout the country. My guess is that most are uneducated, unsupported within their community, and, more than likely, in the U.S. illegally. But slapping some Spanish on a can of Pringles will straighten all that right up.

reem al-omari
8.21.07 @ 4:27p

I highly doubt that someone desperate enough in this day and age to immigrate into this country illegally is gonna call attention to themselves by committing a crime big enough to land a sketch of themselves on wanted ads posted throughout neighborhoods.

Also, perhaps the rise in the rate of crime committed by Latinos can be contributed simply to the influx of Latino communities in this country... Let's not forget that the Latino community is growing like crazy, making the ratio of crime higher than before, only because there's more Latinos around, not the same latinos turning to crime all of a sudden.

Finally, to pin this crime committed by one person, who just HAPPENED to be Latino on an entire race or community is not fair. God knows some of the most vile crimes have been committed by good ole' white American boys who possess everything that merits approval in this culture, but we don't talk about the white community when a white person commits a crime, because it's just ONE person.

Would we even talk about race, or what community this man belonged to if he were a caucasian male? Mull that over for a second.

And now I can step off my soap box. Thanks for listening.





alex b
8.21.07 @ 4:50p

Kraemer, it's hard to imagine you, friends, and acquaintances resembling that poster. But, seeing an acquaintance become a rapist came through for me. At 18, I introduced my best college friend to a guy I went to high school with; he date-raped her two nights later. Finding out felt horrifying (especially at introducing them), and I stood by my friend through her recovery.

These days, I don't hate rape strictly because it's an ugly act. I don't know how it feels to be sexually assaulted against my will, but I know first-hand how hard recovering from rape is. I never imagined I would ever see it up close, but I did.

Reem, it isn't fair for an entire ethnic group to be blamed for one person's crime. But, the prejudice triggered by small instances like my neighborhood rape and greater ones like 9/11 is nothing new. Every race in this country has experienced prejudice in small doses throughout its history, including European ones like the Irish and Italians. The outcry following Pearl Harbor herded Japanese-Americans into camps. Prejudice is part of our racially diverse and touchy society, and because a violent crime is damaging and traumatic, it is an inevitable consequence of crimes committed by ethnicities. It isn't fair or right, but it's always going to be around. The best day-to-day things I can do are to not get blindly suckered into it, or give any credibility to it.

Though I don't know what it's like to be individually blamed for something as great as 9/11, I know sexual prejudice. Asian chicks are routinely stereotyped as obedient and submissive China Dolls. I've heard "ooooh, you're so Asian/exotic/delicate/sweet" line from white guys- Americans, Brits, Aussies, Irish, and so forth. I've heard it from black guys, Latinos, and Middle Easterners. My culture's women hears sexually prejudiced crap all the time from all races- I figure owning an Asia Carrera DVD is a universal thing.

I can't change the stereotype existing in society, but I can bust it on an individual level: when someone shows up with it, I just tell 'em I'm a dominatrix.

[edited]

alex b
8.21.07 @ 4:59p

Tracey- I think rape accompanies poor circumstances; it seems like it even flourishes there. The desperation in the act seems to reflect the same anger that comes with facing things like poverty, illegal status, lack of education, questionable housing, and lack of assistance. It sucks to see it here within the Latino community, and it sucked to see it overseas- in the Philippines among my own people that were dirt poor and living in shantys. But I did.

Reem, if our perp was a white guy, we probably wouldn't talk about race as extensively as we're doing now. You're right that we don't say "a white rapist is on the loose"- we merely say that a rapist is out there. But, if that guy was white, we'd still want to beat the living shit out of him. We just wouldn't single out his whiteness.

[edited]

robert melos
8.21.07 @ 6:03p

Someone I grew up with turned out to be a date rapist back in high school. That was freaky, to realize I knew someone who was very highly thought of and to discover their sick secret. They got away with it because the girl involved only told a few friends, but refused to press charges. It was 1981. That stuff just didn't happen in my area.

As for the race or ethnicity, I'm caucasian, Irish, French, German, English, Russian and Native American (the last just slipped in, so to speak), so my people have all committed atrocities against their fellow human beings too numerous to mention. I blame the individual.

The police use latino as a description, but his acts aren't a reflection on his people, but on himself. I do think a rise in crime has to do with illegal immigration, but not all illegal immigrants are thieves, murders or rapists. Some are here trying to earn money to support their families back home. Sure they are illegal, but they aren't sick criminals. However, there are a lot who are sick criminals.

Update us when he's caught.

alex b
8.21.07 @ 6:36p

Hiya Robert, hopefully we do get some good news about it. In addition to the $2,000 Crimestoppers reward for information, two local politicians- Assemblyman Michael Gianaris and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr- have each put up $500, making a total of $3,000 available to anyone who has any valuable info. Personally, I still doubt the guy is going to be caught, but maybe the money can inspire someone to come forward.

Though we're talking about ethnicity and poverty because of my neighborhood rape, rapists are from poor and rich backgrounds. The guy who date-raped my best friend was a white kid from a loaded family in the nicer section of town- a kid who eventually went to USC, had a wrestling scholarship, was part of student council, and had a fun reputation. But, he did it anyway. It was 1994. I likewise woke up from "people don't do that from my area."

Out here in NY, many illegal Latin immigrants work as line cooks, dishwashers, and waiters in the restaurant industry. They labor away at incredibly craptastic jobs and endure shitty employment circumstances to send money home to their families, and tolerate it- and crime-inspired scrutiny- in the hope of eventually earning a green card. I feel terrible for them because my neighborhood rape puts them under that scrutiny, and am amazed they continue living with it.

[edited]

reem al-omari
8.22.07 @ 12:54a

Rape has never been something I associate with someone's social or financial status. Rape is something that is a lot more deep-rooted than that, and it occurs in the highest class societies as well as the lowest, and inbetween. When a guy is a bastard, he's a bastard, whether he lives in the projects, or in Beverly Hills. The robbing part of the crime is the only thing that makes the status discussion relevant in my mind in this case. And again, the illegal immigrant thing... my car got hit in a parking lot one day, and though I was inside shopping and didn't see who did it, a lady saw what happened and left me a note with the license plate # of the car that hit mine... it turned out that the car belonged to an illegal immigrant who panicked when he hit my car and drove away to avoid being found out.

I don't know what happened to him as a result, but when he was caught he told the truth and perhaps paid the consequences by being deported. So, you see, I don't think an illegal immigrant would want to lead a life of crime that could land them in the hands of authorities, because that would make them crazy. Sure, there are crazy ones out there, but it's not the norm to call attention to yoruself when you're in a situation like that.

tracey kelley
8.22.07 @ 8:34a

Reem, you think I'm pointing a white girl racist finger at the Latino community, and I'm not.

However, all around me, every day, are stats on the increase of Latino crime - assults and murders within their own community and against other members of the population. More than half the murders committed in Des Moines the last 4 years are Latino-based. Latinos here illegally are caught and deported, leaving their children behind with no one to care for them. Companies continue to hire the illegals...and yet, no one from the legal Latino community is saying it's wrong.

My understanding of the general Latino community is that it is very family and religion based...and yet, there is a breakdown. And yes, I blame the uncontrolled influx of illegal immigration. You can't tell me that the people who worked hard and saved and got their visas or papers to become American citizens look upon those who sold their souls to the "coyote" transporters and live in track housing down by the river with favor, or even compassion. It's basic human nature.

Thus, the breakdown in community and of support - a problem that exists, no matter what race you happen to be. Add to that some crazy bastard who, yes, is undereducated and desperate, and there will be a tragedy. Mix these tragedies together, and the entire race suffers.

This attitude is not just mine. I interviewed a Latino financial advisor last week, who supports his people in East L.A. He said the drop out rate in that area among the Latino population has hovered at 60 percent for nearly 20 years, regardless of special programs or federal money thrown at the problem. His belief is that change will only come from within the Latino community, one person at a time.

He thinks that the underlying machismo attitude keeps his community from advancing in society and financially. He also believes that until his community rises up to control illegal immigration into the U.S. the entire populace will continue to suffer.

Are the facts easier to swallow when he says it? Maybe.

Countries in Central America rakes in approximately $7-12 BILLION a YEAR from funds sent home by Latino immigrants in the U.S. In my humble white girl opinion, countries that rely on that money for sustainability, rather than building viable industries and education systems to keep their people home, are disgusting. People would not have to risk their lives and leave their families to go elsewhere if circumstances at home were better.

And, in America, the marketers control the attitude toward immigration. "Look at all the Mexicans!" they say. "We must sell to them!" What about the Hmongs, or Laotians, or the Pakistanis, or the French-Canadians? Don't you think those immigrants would feel better and feel a sense of belonging to see their language on a can of Pringles, too?

No. You don't see that because it's not what you're supposed to se

tracey kelley
8.22.07 @ 8:39a

(cont.) see. Why develop programs to support legal and controlled immigration to benefit the people involved when you can make money off them.

Good day, and welcome to Amercia.

The rape matters, regardless of the race of the attacker. But if the attacker happened to be Latino, it's more unfortunate.

reem al-omari
8.22.07 @ 12:56p

Tracey,

My intent was not to point a racist finger at you... please don't take it that way.

BUT I am a little sensitive about crimes committed by individuals becoming grounds for stereotyping an entire race negatively. I lived through post-911 as an Arab-Muslim, and in a lighter form, I'm still dealing with my citizenship not coming through waiting for so-called "FBI background checks" just because I come from a place with its share of problems, even though I have nothing to do with those problems.

You've spoken to a person from the Latino community and he pointed out thigns I wouldn't know, so I accept your argument. However, I want to point that think that as human beings living in a "global" community, we need to stop taking the actions of one person and applying it to the culture and ideals of the group that person belongs to. We did it in WWII, we did it post-911 to name the most prominent instances... my parents lost their homeland becuase of severe attitudes like that that stem from little seemingly harmless stances we take like in this rape/robbery case. This attitude needs to stop even at the littlest point, because it can grow and cause another Iraq or Afghanistan. I know that's a fatalistic approach, but problems like this are like children... they grow fast and before you know it, they have a mind of their own.

But I know you're not a racist... I don't think anyone on this site is capable of having such thought processes, otherwise I wouldn't be on here sounding off on half the things I sound off on. I was just trying to make a point.

tracey kelley
8.22.07 @ 1:45p

I totally agree with you on all your points and you have every right to make them.

I also believe that when people want to raise a particular flag in unity surrounding their culture, they, not me, or you, should be the first to absolve the problems within their community.

This lack of community support within every cultural subset is a dire circumstance for EVERY person.

So if a person wants to seek refuge at the Mongo-Hyperbole-Amercian center (totally made-up culture by me), wear a pair of deelybops with the design of the Mongo-Hyperbole flag on them, and tell me that, because I am not Mongo-Hyperbole, I don't understand "them" or their "issues"...

....they make that dividing line deeper and wider, and harder for me to cross. So that global community of which you speak is an ideal, certainly, and one I support wholeheartedly...

....if the Mongo-Hyperbole-Americans would stop telling me how wrong I am all the time.

I was not generalizing the Latino community based on this rape - but I am indeed holding up a mirror that says, "You are not this person, but this person represents you to thousands of others too ignorant too know the difference. What are you going to do about it?"

Because, as a lowly white girl with mixed mutt heritage, I don't have any other community to rally around but the one shared by everyone else. Thus, it matters to me that we stop dividing simply by culture when it suits us, or is easy, or doesn't involve bad things. I may celebrate St. Patrick's Day, but I don't call myself Irish-American, thus automatically separating myself from the general community. I was born in Amercia, thus, I am American.


alex b
8.23.07 @ 2:27a

Tracey & Reem, I don't have anything to supplement what you've both said about race and ethnicity. To this Flip, you both have relevant perspectives as an Arab chick and a white girl, and your remarks are valuable to know.

When I first wrote this column, I wrote it from being incredibly pissed off by rape on a personal, local level- the only things on my mind were to verbally rip this kid's balls off and say a few things that could possibly boost our girl's morale. I didn't think I would learn a few things in turn, and I'm glad I have.

Something else I'd like to add as discussion food for thought: Reem, even though you brought up illegal immigration as a topic to discuss in terms of the robbery aspect of my neighborhood case, it's also one worth looking at because of the rape.

Unlike stealing a car or buying a bag of weed- impersonal offenses- rape is personal and violent, like assault, abuse, manslaughter and murder. Plus, rape is also a sexual crime, one that carries sex's very powerful instincts. Citizens and illegals alike become volatile, and commit violence when violent- throwing punches, slapping kids or spouses, or raping someone. Last year, an illegal immigrant murdered an actress. We can say that he should have taken care not to do it because of his status, but somebody is dead because of the rage in his mind- an aspect that makes someone very dangerous to everyone.

Thus, all that said (phew!), there's another issue here with race and ethnicity: violence. How do we make this go away?

[edited]

reem al-omari
8.24.07 @ 3:03a

I have no idea how we can make it go away, other than standing up when it occurs and expressing intolerance of such attitude(s).

However, a friend of mine lost her job shortly after 9/11, because she stood up to her office bullies who sent her offensive email forwards (at work, which is unprofessional on top of being offensive) against Arabs and Muslims, and told them she wouldn't tolerate such ignorance... I should add this girl is white, Scandinavian-American to be exact, and she lost her job because she didn't join in the hysteria of hatred that took place in this country after 9/11.

We're living in some pretty unstable times, where we have to tolerate so many thigns that are wrong just to keep our jobs, or simply "fit in" without trouble. But if you can say your piece and keep yourself intact in every aspect, you should go for it and attempt to educate the ignorant people out there... there's quite a few of 'em.

PHEW. That felt like the answer to the final question at the Ms. Universe pageant!



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