Black Women Are Worth 10K

I came across this story at The Root but it was originally posted at Aunt Jemima’s Revenge. Chiman Rai So hated blacks that he hired a hit man to kill his black daughter-in law, Sparkle.  The case was labeled an honor killing.  Eight years ago Rajeeve came home to find his daughter unhurt, and his wife brutally murdered. When asked by police during the investigation of his wifes death about his parents, he referred to them as “a little racist”.  This from a man that told his wife, and her family that his parents were dead, rather than deal with their racism.Eight years later the prosecutor is seeking the death penalty, and a little girl is growing up without both of her parents. Yes I said both, you see since the death of his wife, Rajeeve has remarried an Indian woman, and has not bothered to see his daughter. It seems that Sparkle’s death taught him which bodies matter in this society.

When I first read this story, I must admit to openly weeping, not only for the light that was so sadly doused, but for the child that is now denied the birthright of her mothers love. Once I moved past the sadness, rage settled upon me, like fog rolling across a series of hills. A rage so deep that it leaves me nearly inarticulate. As I have said many times before, black women occupy the bottom of the racial and gender hierarchy in the western world. That we continue to pay for this positioning with our very lives, is evidence that this so-called post racial society is non existent. What was this young mothers crime, but existing as black and female in this world?

We claim to believe in equality, and to value people equally, but daily black women are assaulted, and murdered.  Our deaths and our rapes go unrecognized by traditional media.  It seems that we are only visible when we are committing a crime, and not when a crime is committed against us.  We are silenced in feminist circles, and minimized in the civil rights struggle. Where is a WOC to receive validation of her worth? We must turn to each other as shelter from a world that treats our bodies akin to disposable refuse. Sit silently no longer my sisters because very few will truly speak on our behalf.

I often wonder behind the PC speech where is the anger at our treatment. It seems it is fashionable to pay lip service these days to the oppressed but to articulate from a position of  rage is a rare phenomenon. Passion and outrage are saved for the more legitimate causes, while daily the war against WOC is raged and the bodies are buried, unnoticed, unvalued, and forgotten. How many feminists have even bothered to ask the question why WOC are not featured when they are missing, or why there is no discussion when pregnant black mothers are killed? It does not diminish you as a woman to admit that WOC hurt too. How many men will continually privilege race over gender and in the process treat us, and our concerns as though they were invisible?  I cannot sit in peace and watch as my sisters are made to pay the price for being black and female in our racist, and patriarchal society. I am an angry black woman and my rage is justified.


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36 Responses to Black Women Are Worth 10K

  1. shah8 says:

    Forgot one thing

    Step-grandma was a news reporter in Atlanta. If it weren’t for that, there would be *no* news of this, beyond an initial “isn’t this fucked?” when the story broke.

    Me and mother just talked a long time about this yesterday. It is such a horrifyingly sad story.

  2. ERS says:

    Your rage may be justified but, to be fair (and I’m not justifying these crimes. . .not at all), it’s a little misplaced in this case. The underlying thinking of dishonor killers is quite different from that of other types of murderers.

    Chiman probably would’ve been irked with anyone his son had married if she was outside his race, caste, and faith and not a virgin at the time of the marriage. His mindset is so narrow that anyone who fell outside those particular criteria would’ve been in his crosshairs, be she black, brown, pink, green, or purple. Sparkle just happened to be black, but Chiman and men like him have trouble with anyone outside their puny definitions of acceptable.

    By the way, this crime hasn’t gone unnoticed or unwritten about within the community of activists who work in this area. As with the dishonor killings of the Said sisters of suburban Dallas, though, the mainstream media doesn’t give these crimes much notice. This is unfortunate.

    Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
    “Reclaiming Honor in Jordan”

  3. Renee says:

    Your rage may be justified but, to be fair (and I’m not justifying these crimes. . .not at all), it’s a little misplaced in this case. The underlying thinking of dishonor killers is quite different from that of other types of murderers.

    Let me tell you what I see…Once again another black woman is murdered for the crime of being black and female in this world. That is enough to enrage me. My anger is appropriately directed. It matters not who commits the crime at this point as so many of my sisters have already been laid to rest. When will there ever be a time when our lives are worth something?

  4. Manju says:

    His mindset is so narrow that anyone who fell outside those particular criteria would’ve been in his crosshairs, be she black, brown, pink, green, or purple.

    Not quite, ERS. He’d be upset but not equally so. There’s a hierarchy, with blacks on the bottom along with (arguably) Muslims and dalits. So, if his son marries outside his language, maybe he’d be disowned for 5yrs, a lower caste gets you 10, white maybe 15, and black, dalit, or muslim gets you a bullet…or so it goes with some variations but blacks are always on the bottom no matter what the sceme.

    as mush as i’d like to blame it all on british colonialism, which certainly exacerbated things, indian racism really predates it and its been 50+ years since they left, so iis time to move on. either way, its certainly not just a western thing, the isms are far worse over there, imho.

  5. Manju says:

    and often things are worse in the diaspora, especially ones that stay very insular as do many indians who emigrate to africa and guyana, for example. from the spelling of rajeeve’s name it looks like his family left india a long time ago, so they stay backwards even as the mother country moves on.

    this is a very common story in multiculti uk, less so in melting pot usa. but there’s hope, my cousin married outside her race (almost 30 yrs ago) and her father told everyone she died in a car crash, which we believed for about 10 yrs. now every ones best friends, believe it or not. the old world eventually gives way to the new.

  6. NancyP says:

    I don’t know what to do about media racism.

    I do know what might get white DV activists and other white activists out – an initial outreach by an experienced black DV activist and organizer to the white counterparts. You have to lead, our (whites) job is to bulk up the crowd for the news cameras, and to use any media contacts to make introductions of media people to the black activist/ organizer of the protest / march / vigil. The black activist directs everything. And I can see that in some situations, the choice might be to leave whites out of the photo-ops in order to diminish the weight of “traitor to our men” thoughts that a black target audience might have.

    You lead. We follow.

  7. peri9 says:

    I’m annoyed that this happens all the time in India, but its is only news when it happens in america. WOC has once again come to mean only black.

  8. Tiffany in Houston says:

    I find it very interesting to note that you had 86 comments on the other post that were ripping you a new one about the word ‘twit’. On this post about a black woman getting murdered: Basically it’s crickets. I’m so not surprised.

  9. Renee says:

    @ Tiffany in Houston….kind of proves my point about legitimate rage doesn’t it. Some bodies clearly do not matter. This is why I have committed myself to telling as much of our story as I can.

  10. Roxie says:

    Tiffany in Houston, I thought I was the only one.
    I found that to be true on here and other popular feminist blogs. It breaks my heart.

    In Atlanta, we’ve been hearing about this for a while, though not quite in as much detail as other cases. On the news I saw some of the court case where the hitman communicated to the father it would be easier and better to kill them both (husband & wife). The father declined and (according to the testimony) insisted it be she.

    It makes me enraged, it makes me sad, it makes me feel hopeless about all kinds of things.

  11. Manju says:

    Some bodies clearly do not matter.

    Tiff, Renee, Rox:

    I disagree. It’s not the body in the casket that’s got everyone silent. Its the guilty brown man. Problematic, as they say in progressive circles. Now if you could tie his bigotry to British colonialism, US Imperialism, globalization, or American racism, you’d hear more voices chiming in; because that’s easy.

    But this is like Islamic terrorism, homophobia, sexism, and racism. Not that it won’t be dealt with. It will. But the Muslim terrorists will get a degree of nuance not afforded to the KKK or Nazis. Like over at Feministing, a woman can see some POC at a gay marriage ceremony and conclude “that communities of color being more anti-gay than white communities” is a “myth.”

    Try blaming America for this. You’ll get as many comments as the duke rape hoax. Most people, right and left, like to keep things within their ideological boundaries. Its just easier that way.

  12. Renee says:

    @peri9 woman of color means woman of color..would it have made you feel better for me to ignore this story? In fact the story I posted just this week both here and at feministe dealt with Western exploitation of Indian women and I referred to them as WOC. At womanistmusings I have posted on honor killings in India. I have focused on violence against women globally. I would suggest rather than finding fault with this story in particular if you believe that Indian woman aren’t getting enough coverage blogger and wordpress allow you to start free blogs. I encourage ALL women of color to get their stories out there.

  13. Renee says:

    @Manju..I had to run over to feministing to read that…racial apologist crap is what I saw. At any rate I cannot say that I concur that the reason is because the murderer is a POC. I state this because WOC specifically black women (don’t get bent out of shape peri) occupy the bottom rung of the racial and social hierarchy. Whether it is this case or not our murders, rapes and kidnappings are not reported in the main stream press.

  14. The mainstream press hasn’t found a way to “sell” the deaths of WOC. It’s much easier, instead, to sell stories about, oh, I don’t know, gang violence and drugs and so on – to sell racism, essentially. Conversely, notice how they sex up stories of pretty white girls murdered or gone missing. Anyone still remember JonBenet Ramsey? There were so many things wrong with the way the media handled it that I want to take a shower just thinking about it.

    It all goes back to ratings. And racism plays a big part in the equation, because it seems like no matter what, people just can’t get enough of the “scary black people” stories. A “black woman tragically murdered” story? Editors and executives think it won’t matter, even though they probably fail to see how their own indifference to the subject ensures that such stories continue not to matter. You can view this as a chicken or the egg type question, but a talented writer at a big publication could produce compelling coverage of what happened to Sparkle, for example. Problem is, those good writers are being asked to write another piece about the Kennedys instead.

  15. foo says:

    Once I moved past the sadness, rage settled upon me, like fog rolling across a series of hills. A rage so deep that it leaves me nearly inarticulate.

    Hmm. Rage settles upon me, too, like fog rolling across a series of hills. You know why ?

    Because all blacks/africans are pathetically racist themselves, preferring “lighter skinned blacks” (see “Rap”), murdering millions based solely on race (see hutu/tutsi) and killing people of other ethnicities in race-hatred even in the USA (including thousands of indians in the USA too, one just recently in a parking lot, bashed to death, another who gave a lift to some blacks out of the goodness of his heart, etc., etc., with eyewitnesses reporting all of those as race-involved).

    So yeah, I’m boiling with rage too, at the “culture” of the angry black feminist.

  16. napthia9 says:

    Natalia- And then there are the “news” magazines that don’t seem to want to talk about news. For example, this one blog entry was more interesting, better written, and more informative than most of this week’s TIME. Strike that, all of this week’s TIME, since I threw it away after a quick glance through.

    This is a tragic story. I hope for the best for her daughter.

  17. Bobthemole says:

    I don’t know what to say, except that this story gives me shivers.

  18. Trixie23 says:

    I have also noticed this with children. I receive the Amber Alerts for my area in New York State and noticed that white children get the attention of the big news media while children of color are not. I check Amber alerts all over the country and see Latino infants and children disappear often, yet one preteen white girl is all over the national news.

  19. peri9 says:

    I know my point seems off topic to you, but I really don’t think it is. I feel the reason you didn’t include or care to address the similarities indian women (of all ethnicities) face is either it didn’t occur to you, or it would detract from your (true) statement of, “Look how bad black american women have it compared to other americans.” And that is the same reason white feminists previously didn’t include us in their feminism movement, it didn’t occur to them, and it loses the focus on their message. If you want the white feminists to care about your issues, you have to care about other women of colors issues. I feel like this post only talks about america, without ever stating or realizing that it had such a limited focus.

    Personally, i think if you had included indian feminists you could have learned some things. Most indian men would not have committed this crime (I hope), but many definitely have the racist attitudes that led to this crime. They have been cultured to give women a certain place in their life. And indian feminists are working hard to counteract this culture. (As are many other women across the globe.) If we continue to live in disjointed groups, we can never learn the actions and the successes of others, which we could use to help our own society.

  20. Irene M. says:

    Yes I said both, you see since the death of his wife, Rajeeve has remarried an Indian woman, and has not bothered to see his daughter.

    How can these people live with themselves?! Renee, I share your rage and am desperately hoping that Sparkle and her baby girl get some justice. Please, do update us about the case in the future.

  21. This is an horrible story, and the comments have been real eye-openers (not in a good way).

    In general I agree with your points about WoC, but I do have one comment to part of what you wrote.

    As I have said many times before, black women occupy the bottom of the racial and gender hierarchy in the western world. That we continue to pay for this positioning with our very lives, is evidence that this so-called post racial society is non existent. What was this young mothers crime, but existing as black and female in this world?

    While this is certainly true in the US, it’s not necessarily true outside the US. In Europe, black women are not, as a whole, ranked lower than other immigrants. E.g. in my own native Denmark, black women are quite often more accepted than women from Muslim countries. Of course, when the black woman comes from a Muslim country (e.g. Somalia), then it’s double bad.

    What I am trying to say, is that I think it’s more correct to sat that women of color occupy the bottom of the racial and gender hierarchy in the western world. This doesn’t change your point in any way though, and it’s something that we should fight against.

  22. Roxie says:

    Um, Kristjan..

    What I am trying to say, is that I think it’s more correct to sat that women of color occupy the bottom of the racial and gender hierarchy in the western world.

    That is what she said? It’s in your quote of her post.

  23. Skorri says:

    I work in the court room where this trial was held, and was able to watch portions of it. Even being from Atlanta, this was the first time I’d ever heard of the case. It was pretty horrifying.

    Something else interesting, though, is that Rai, the defendant, was actually a professor at a traditionally black college. It’s almost impossible for me to comprehend how he could work with black Americans on a close and regular basis, and apparently had no obvious issues with doing so, and yet still felt he needed to kill his daughter in law for the crime of not being Indian.

  24. Renee says:

    @Peri…scroll up I did address your commentary directly.

  25. Renee says:

    Because all blacks/africans are pathetically racist themselves, preferring “lighter skinned blacks” (see “Rap”), murdering millions based solely on race (see hutu/tutsi) and killing people of other ethnicities in race-hatred even in the USA (including thousands of indians in the USA too, one just recently in a parking lot, bashed to death, another who gave a lift to some blacks out of the goodness of his heart, etc., etc., with eyewitnesses reporting all of those as race-involved).

    So yeah, I’m boiling with rage too, at the “culture” of the angry black feminist.

    Could you be anymore offensive?

  26. That is what she said? It’s in your quote of her post.

    It could be a misunderstanding from my side, but I see the term WoC as more broad than “black”, and I felt it reasonable to point out that in other Western countries, it is other types of WoC that are at the button of the hierarchy. Still doesn’t change the main point of the post, which I wholeheartedly agree with.

  27. miwome says:

    Um, foo, please stfu. All black people? Really? And you participated in that “lighter is better” construct yourself: An Indian man (typically assumed to be “lighter” than your average black man, whether or not that’s the case), acting out of the goodness of his heart to give some Lazy Black Guys a lift, gets beaten and killed due to their Violent and Amoral Culture. Hoo, boy, never heard this one before. Quick, everybody, it’s on the news! Grab the popcorn and lock the doors!

    Not to mention it’s the death of a man that has you so enraged. (Not to say that men’s lives are not valuable; they are, of course. But this post is specifically about the invisibility surrounding the deaths of WOC.)

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  29. zoe says:

    @foo – for the history of western civilization in a nutshell, think about how white people have more often done the things you claim “all blacks/africans” do. & then think critically about root causes.
    maybe then you will understand the situation & culture that fosters a black feminism that is necessary for survival for those of us who are black and woman.
    oh, but it’s not our job to teach you.

  30. When I made this post on my blog, I was hoping for what Renee was. That folks would get mad. Now, I get it, Black women just don’t count. How did this debate get about “honor killing” of Indian women or leaving out other woc? I am amazed at how many blog stories I have read about black women being raped or murdered that turn into a discussion about someone else or something else. Black women can’t even rate maintaining their own blog discussion thread.

    I bet if you did an search, you would find more material on honor killings, than the murder of black women in America. This was a heinous crime. It’s a hate crime, period! It would have been an honor crime, if Mr. Rai had the guts to do the crime himself. He hired black men to murder a black woman and that fact alone should have people pissed.

    Nobody cares when a black woman dies. It’s getting to be frightening!

  31. NancyP says:

    peri9 is right that there is relatively little U.S. media attention to the crime of bride-murder occurring in India. There is relatively little U.S. media attention to much of the world.

    The classic example of “white woman victim” reporting is the intense attention to the Central Park Jogger case, and the total neglect of a nearly simultaneous case where a black woman uptown got thrown off an apartment roof by a significant other. Front page NYT, vs not mentioned.

    This particular case of racist Indian prof. at HBCU, “undutiful” son, way-way-way-out-caste daughter-in-law, hit-man, case reopens 8 years later – it sounds like one of those “ripped from the headline” Law and Order convoluted storylines. I am surprised that the news had to be rescued from the editor’s delete button – this isn’t the usual “anonymous” black-on-black crime getting a sentence or two in the local news section.

  32. benihana says:

    But so-called black female ‘activists’ are JUST as guilty as everyone else they are soooo damn busy whining about rap and hip-hop yet they NEVER attack Hollywood for their negative potrayal of black women. That also goes for black women in the media if there is some story like a Cynthia Mckinney or Whitney Houston or Naomi Campbell where they can make snide,malacious comments or make fun of them then thye JUMP at the chance. Yet noone utters a peep about Ryan Harris or Nailah Franklin or Tamika Houston or Cherisse Iverson that goes double for Oprah who preachs all this ‘down with the sisters’ crap yet IGNORES stories involving black women but if there is a Jonbenet or Elizabeth Smart or Nicole Simpson or Natalie Holloway Oprah is the first one there! Maybe we have NO value because a lot of black women don’t give a RAT’S ASS about each other and will run each other over the first chance we get.

  33. Katie says:

    Renee – thanks for writing this and publicizing it. What a horrible story – if it weren’t for the internet I feel like some cases wouldn’t get any publicity at all.

    (I’m sorry about the crap you’re having to slog through in the comments section, too.)

  34. gatamala says:

    good lookin’ out Renee

    THANK YOU

    Professor Tracey, you are 100% on point.

  35. Renee says:

    This story is part of the reason why I encourage WOC to tell their stories and the stories of our sisters. If we don’t who will tell it for us?

  36. Lala says:

    This is a very disturbing case. I would like to think it was crazy and extreme. I know some people in these type relationships and I wonder what type of discussions they’re having

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