by Frances Quaempts-Miller
“When I’m down and I feel like giving up…I whip my hair back and forth.”-Willow Smith
When I first learned of the latest hate crime hoax involving Amari Allen, a 12 year old African American preteen, I was watching the sometimes salacious national news show “Inside Edition” with my wife. Allen appeared on screen as a brave victim who was seemingly attacked by three white boys because of her “nappy” hair. Though something about the story just didn’t seem right, the part of me that knows what it’s like to have my hair ridiculed and touched without permission, won out. I decided to believe the narrative knowing there was potential for a hate hoax.
Confirmation bias for some people comes from a place of real experience. I have no doubt that many black people, women in particular, felt the sting of bad memories when Allen’s story hit the screens. Hate crime hoaxes are often initially believed because they sound plausible to those who have dealt with similar circumstances. Even the awful Tawana Brawley gang rape hoax, where she claimed racist words were written on her body and was left for dead in a trash bag, could seem likely because of the harm violently racist whites caused African Americans during slavery times and beyond. Blacks and other people of color learn as kids to be on the look-out for racial denigration so the past isn’t repeated.
Author and university professor Wilfred Reilly published the book “Hate Crime Hoax: The Left’s Campaign to Sell a Fake Race War,” this year and has over forty four pages of notes related to such hoaxes. Chapters in his book include discussions on fake religious, gender, and LGBT incidents, hoaxes related to bias against President Trump, white hoaxers, and of course college campus incidents. Reilly notes that these false hate crimes perpetuate a vision of what he calls the “Continuing Oppression Narrative,” that keeps blacks and leftist race activists in a constant state of “doom laden” analysis.
Reilly notes media stories that serve to crystallize the idea that cruel racists are lurking everywhere can “deflect attention from cultural issues within the Black community.” Organizations like the NAACP (which I once belonged to) and Black Lives Matter along with left-wing media outlets feed the “large and well-entrenched grievance industry.” At the same time, continuing problems for African Americans including fatherlessness, black on black crime, and diseases that disproportionately affect blacks like sickle cell anemia and sarcoidosis, remain out of the realm of public and social justice discourse.
Chasing racist ghosts also negates focus on black achievement. Coleman Hughes, a university student and writer, asked at the beginning of his Quillette essay The Case for Black Optimism, “When was the last time you heard good news about the state of black America?” Hughes contends that things are actually looking up for blacks, especially when compared to how they were doing in the recent past. The “blacks are being hurt and need help” plot obliges white social justice vigilantes and black race-baiters alike to destabilize society by using deception to gain power, notoriety and money while keeping African Americans in a falsely derived perpetual state of panic. This in and of itself could be called racist.
A story like Allen’s in our current epoch wouldn’t be complete if it wasn’t connected to President Trump somehow. The “Inside Edition” episode I watched didn’t mention the connection to Karen Pence, but most other news sources did. Instead, “Inside Edition” tied the Allen story to the issue of rights for African Americans to wear their hair naturally in professional settings. The news show did not retract the story on their broadcast but did post an update on their website. Reilly’s partial solution to the fake hate crime wave is to have reporters and editors treat accusers respectfully but not “greet each new claim with instant and total credulity.”
Why Amari and her guardians created this lie remains a mystery. Reilley estimates that “between 15 to 50 percent of hate crime accusations are flatly false.” This means there’s a lot of people making race relations worse in the name of combating racism. Many times in the past race hustlers have used hoaxes like this to make unethical rationalizations about how such hoaxers are “well-meaning anti-racists,” using lies to draw attention to real racism. Another popular excuse, as was the case with Brawley and Allen, is that “someone did something at some time,” and the hoaxer was just over amplifying a previous racial wound or is just responding to “institutional racism” and “white privilege.”
Amari Allen and her guardians need to be accountable for the willful disinformation they pushed. Likewise, popular and left-wing media sources are complicit by not fully investigating before asserting the racialized sky is falling. My hope for Allen in spite of her deceptive story is that she can one day understand she doesn’t have to lie to advocate for black autonomy and equality. She can take her woeful transgression on the chin and use it to live a more ethical and truthful life. Only an honest examination of her motives, as well as the motives of her grandparents and the media, will help her to move past this and perhaps become a young lady who can teach others to tell the truth even when a juicy lie seems too good to pass up.
Frances Quaempts lives with her wife and dog in Portland, Oregon. Her professional background includes management, event planning, the book industry, and advocacy in the non-profit sector. She has been an activist and volunteer for over three decades including being an HIV/AIDS educator, grant writing specialist, campaign spokeswoman and Chief Petitioner. She’s currently a dog wrangler as well as a staff writer and community liaison for a local community newspaper. Frances is a bibliophile and ardent Svengoolie fan.
35 thoughts on “Mrs. Q’s Corner… When Hate Doesn’t Come Home: Hate Crime Hoaxes and Amari Allen”
Congratulations “Mrs. Q”! I look forward to reading more of your insights.
“ Why Amari and her guardians created this lie remains a mystery.”
My guess is her parents didn’t create this lie. I think the young girl did, and her parents believed her.
(For what it is worth, I was certain this was a hoax from the beginning. So I’m not apologizing for the parents.)
A hearty WESconsin welcome, Mrs. Q!
Anywho, this is no surprise; it’s what happens when the demand for something, hate in this instance, greatly exceeds the supply.
Even if the race hustlers were right, that there are still huge numbers of racists just waiting to stick it to black people and other minorities, that makes hoaxes like this even worse. The ethical reaction to somebody exploiting your cause for a lie should be an unequivocal rebuke of the liar, not “B-but, there really ARE hate crimes happening out there!”
I think both things can happen. We can hold liars accountable and be concerned about the real “hate” crimes out there. I put the word hate in quotes because I disagree with hate crime legislation in general. Maybe I should write about that sometime.
Please do. I look forward to it. And congratulations!
An auspicious opening salvo, Ms. Quaempts. I’ve read your commentary faithfully and have been most impressed.
I look forward to more!
Bless you Arthur!
I’ve seen nothing to indicate the girl’s guardians were involved in concocting this hoax.
They went along with it. They are complicit in her hoax because they didn’t do their homework or wait for the results of the police investigation. There is a serious lack of restraint in media reporting of alleged hate crime incidents which fosters a ripe environment for certain actors to take advantage in a variety of ways.
Not only that; when it turns out to be a hoax it doesn’t get the same kind of reporting and sometimes no reporting. The #MeToo and “we believe victims” media are enabling these kind of lies and helping to destroy lives without any facts.
”when it turns out to be a hoax it doesn’t get the same kind of reporting and sometimes no reporting.”
You don’t say.
A) Pre-Debunked-Hoax NYT headline: Black Virginia Girl Says White Classmates Cut Her Dreadlocks on Playground
B) Post-Debunked-Hoax NYT headline: Virginia Girl Recants Story of Boys Cutting Off her Dreadlocks
An unfair criticism. We should not pretend a parent or guardian has the same duty of objectivity when it comes to their child that journalists do. They have a supervening duty of advocacy towards the child, not to mention a bond of familial trust, that the press does not have.
They “went along with it? ” They were duped. Someone they trusted, at least in some respects, violated their trust. We should not blame them the same way we blame the media for their credulity. Nor are they responsible for the way the media hyped the original report and soft-pedalled the unveiled hoax.
I’m with Dave on this issue. A child went to her parents/guardians/grandparents, and told them she had been hurt. Their duty is to that child. They reported the incident to the police, and the media reported it to the public. In addition, the guardians are on record saying that her lie is wrong, and they don’t know why she would make up such a story.
I agree, as well. Beyond the who, what, why, where, how, it is not their duty to “investigate.” Give that info to the police and let them do their job. They are there to support and comfort the child.
But some new rules are in order when the police report is going to get into the news media and the internet, which any “hate crime” claim is going to do.
Their duty is to the child but that does not negate their duty to the truth.
Don’t you think that there should have been an additional step in this process, that step being to contact the school directly to check on the incident before contacting the police. I think the grandparents may have been swept up in the “we believe victims” and/or thinking that “our granddaughter wouldn’t lie about such a thing” and bypassed the one place that could have negated the need to go to the police at all and it likely wouldn’t have been released to the news. If I’m understanding the timeline of this incident correctly; the grandparents made a choice to believe the grandchild unconditionally, not trust that the school would check into this incident properly, and went straight to the police thus bypassing the school and making this more of a “legal” claim of assault. I think the grandparents likely knew going into this that their granddaughter’s story would be hyped by the media once the word got out, if they didn’t know this up front they’ve been living under a rock. The grandparents gambled on the honesty of their granddaughter and they lost.
The only problem I see with Mrs. Q’s opinion is the use of the word “complicit” but I thought focusing on that one word was being a little petty because I got her drift, but here goes. The grandparents weren’t literally complicit, they would have to have known up front that the claim was false before they filed a false assault police report to be complicit and that doesn’t appear to be the case.
FACT: Children will lie, it’s part of growing up. Children will lie more often and about more serious things if they think they will be believed and they think they can get away with it.
What drove this 12 year old to lie about an incident that she cooked up out of thin air, who knows, maybe she blurted it out in an argument with her grandparents to garner sympathy so she wouldn’t be punished for something else, it could be anything. I’m going to guess that this 12 year old Amari Allen has been caught in lies before, someone that making up stories like that, for whatever reason, has done it before.
Steve your point is exactly what I was trying to convey. And you’re right complicit wasn’t quite the right word.
Parents and guardians must consider that kids lie. A parent’s duty is to bring up good contributing citizens which means rules and accountability. This includes pausing to see what the school says, hearing the other parents ideas, and seeing what the investigation reveals. They didn’t have to go on camera initially and foster this story. They did after the fact say Allen lied but the flames of fear had already been stoked.
Unconditional familial trust doesn’t always help the child or the society that lives with it.
Nicely stated but allow me to expand on that a little.
“Unconditional familial trust does not help the child or the society that lives with it.” Children learn really fast by examples set and unconditional trust will lead to and enable abuse of that same unconditional trust.
There’s only one thing that a child should understand is unconditional from their family and that’s unconditional love; everything else is conditional! Children need to know that they will be loved even if you dislike their actions. Tough love is necessary with children.
I understand all the points, and respectfully disagree. Mostly because there seems to be a lot of should haves and could haves in this discussion. Maybe they should have known, and maybe they could have done things differently.
Realistically, if a young girl comes home and has a story of a fairly serious assault (being held down, mouth covered, hair cut, threats and slurs issued), as a parent, I would notify police. I don’t believe I would trust a school (which stands to be injured if the story is true) to investigate this type of assault. Not to mention, if it was true, people would have accused them of not reporting to the police to cover for the school where Pence’s wife works part-time.
I will admit, the apology issued by the grandparents impressed me as well. No excuses, no b.s., accepts fault and consequences.
I do wonder if the grandparents age influenced this chain of events. They’re unlikely to social media savvy, at least not to a great degree. They’re also unlikely to understand the extreme attention seeking narcissism displayed by their granddaughter. The apology they issued accepts fault, but also seems to contain a sense a bewilderment.
I view the race based hoaxes as morally compromised individuals trying to garner some kind of special attention. We see this kind of self-centered narcissism all over our society today, some in the form of false rape claims, some in the form of false racism claims, some in the form of false misogyny claims, and some in the form of virtue signalling; just to name a few. There are some sick people out there and there’s a lot of morally bankrupt people out there prodding them into self destructive behaviors all to deepen social divisions and increase hate.
Great first “Mrs. Q’s Corner” piece for EA, you came out of your corner swinging. 😉
Unfortunately, many since the mid-century have enshrined it in their heads that children never lie, would never lie in a way that would hurt people. I don’t get that belief, as I remember lies bouncing around in all directions in my age group and in younger kids when I was babysitting. Many lies from kids are transparent and easy to doubt, others are much harder to perceive.
They learn from the adults around them and the media their family absorbs. “South Pacific” had it right: you gotta be taught to hate and there are constant screaming classes in what to hate, and what will be tolerated and even approved by parents and grandparents. I myself conducted classes in hating mowing the lawn for years. Seeking approval in Salem triggered those profitable trials and confiscations of goodies and crotchety midwives. Youngsters got listened to and special instead of dismissed and overworked. It is a toxic way to get attention, and just as harmful. But while she told the story he got attention and felt important, the consequences to other people don’t matter, it’s not like they were burnt as witches.
False accusations, not unproven or mistaken, so false that the speaker knows it is not true must have some societal/legal pushback. Shame doesn’t work anymore and few care about the Golden Rule for people who are different than them. Trying to ruin others’ lives using the legal system and media must have consequences. Learning experiences need bite.
side: Congrats on joining the platform and thanks for the book link.
There is a book that could be paired — for the sake of discussion — with the one you reference here: A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (Michael Barkun). The book outlines the rise of conspiracies and ‘mega-conspiracies’, some that are thoroughly outrageous and outlandish.
But a narrative of that sort is not without a function. In fact narratives of this sort have a very real function. They are *interpretive*: they come about when people try to interpret the world they are in which has so many elements outside of and beyond their control. Getting hold of an ‘interpretive narrative’ gives that person a certain power and control. A person who has no ‘meta-narrative’ and no adequate explanatory narrative could be understood to be a powerless person, or perhaps simply asleep, or even perhaps too stupid to care. So people look around, as it were, to find a Narrative Structure that can encompass the life they live.
If this is true then I am not sure that what the lie child Amari concocted is such a mystery. I cannot be certain of course but she could have felt that this Story might have elevated her status and given her a definition: to begin to transform herself into a Black girl activist grappling with and struggling against Power beyond her control. I am thinking of the *essence* of the message in the video by Willow Smith and why such videos get play and why they are so heavily praised. A girl shows up and impresses everyone with her *power*. Any child seeing it, any Black child certainly (to who it is directed) will incorporate the rehearsal presented there into her own self-view. That is the function, isn’t it? of these sorts of productions. It offers very real defining structure.
My understanding of the present — and definitely the American Present — is that in it is pictured a fundamental crisis of identity. One of my own topics within a general social philosophy (to put it rather pretentiously) is that of *identity* and also *location*. Who are you and Where are you? Not small questions though they seem on the surface silly. When I say *location* I mean, of course! metaphysical location: where and in what do you locate yourself? There has to be a Narrative Structure that defines, to oneself, where one is. And that question is vast and enormous. Because answering it you must *explain the world*.
In the American Present (I suggest) there is a confusion about location. Or a loss of sense of location. A dislocation therefore. It is as if the person has lost his or her grounding and floats in a non-location, and into that non-locations there streams in all sorts — endless streams! — of interjected imagining. It comes from movies, from the TeeVee, from video clips, from music and songs, and all the productions surrounding us. And the content is specific to and directed to certain persons and certain groups, and always with reasons, never absent reason. I guess I would have to use the word ‘fractured’ to define the popular American mind.
So, it becomes imperative to a confused soul who is the *victim* of all this conflicted, contradictory content, to arrive at some defining *structure* that makes sense and can be employed in self-determination and also self-protection.
What is interesting, from where I sit, is that a Narrative does not have to be true necessarily to be potent and useful. The narrative of Black Oppression and the Narrative of rising up against it, of struggle and challenge, is an extremely useful narrative! I think that is one of the powerful draws that I have noticed reading the various Antifa-type websites: it offers an interpretive vision and provides a way in to become an activist in a righteous cause. There is an attraction to ‘go underground’, to dress all in black, to have a special agenda in relation to and in response to the Monster of the surrounding culture. There is a kind of coherency and a kind of sense to the Story that is proffered.
Similarly, when one examines the right-leaning so-called Alt-Right narratives, or that of the Dissident Right, there is a structure of vision that is proffered. The decline of the West. The sickly advance of ‘liberal rot’ to paraphrase Tomislav Sunić. The breaking apart of *Europe* or the cultural ideal of Europe by mindless, mechanical forces, and then of course by insidious activists working to do harm. (We might interject here the Alinsky Activist or his Maniac Reverend and associate Obama with that to see how this ‘narrative’ operates: and operate indeed it does!)
So, why the girl creates the story, and what use it would have had for her had it not been punctured, is something that is not so mysterious really. I see that it has to do with claiming and gaining power. But then I also recognize the activism of minorities within a larger movement intended to displace whites and *whiteness* as a real thing. And my *discourse* on this topic, of course! cannot be considered because it is too radical, too dangerous in its implication.
The grandparents stumbled out of the gate on their grand daughter’s whopper but I personally thought they recovered quite nicely with their retraction and apology, which I thought were heartfelt and first rate. Would that the same thing had happened with Tawana Brawley or Jussie Smollett, to name just a few. We’d have significantly fewer Al Sharptons for one thing.
Thanks for taking this on, Ms. Q. Delightful. I salute you.
The consequences of Amari Allen lies will haunt her for many years to come…
Wanna bet that in 5-10 years she’ll be using a new lie claiming that she was coerced into saying that she lied.
Furthermore; wanna bet that Amari Allen changes her name as soon as she legally can.
Excellent article Mrs. Q. I look forward to more to come.
I was wondering about this line, “My hope for Allen in spite of her deceptive story is that she can one day understand she doesn’t have to lie to advocate for black autonomy and equality.”
What made you write that? Earlier you said you didn’t know why she lied. Occums razor would say she lied to protect herself or cover for herself and the lie spiraled out of control. I doubt it had anything to do with black autonomy or equality.
I appreciate your noticing that. Ultimately a desire for black equality and autonomy is a quest for self protection. Mystery solved.
Larry Elder cited this poll.
I have a suspicion why 89% of black teens at the time would feel that way. They were raised by people who lived though Jim Crow. They have heard stories about segregated schools segregated sections on buses, segregated diners, colored water fountains, and know those stories were no longer true in 1997. The idea that the color of bandages somehow constitutes white supremacy would have sounded silly to them.
Please excuse my delay on commending you on your inaugural post. An “afternoon” project has turned into a multi-day construction project . Nonetheless, while I had limited time to comment, I did read all the posts during some well needed breaks.
The topic choice, as indicated by the volume of comments, is one that is in badly need of discussion. The development of “hate crime” legislation may do more to drive people apart than bring them together. Hoaxes reinforce in the minds of the racially confirmation biased that all reports of crimes are either evidence of racism or another hoax. Given that few if any perpetrators of hoaxes are punished because too many rationalize the act as a means to ” start a conversation” on racism in America, it is unlikely that hoaxes will abate. If hoaxes continue – keeping in mind only one race and primarily one gender- the hoaxes will force a day of reckoning. In which all reason is cast aside and no one will be believed at best, or someone will challenge the laws because they are uniformly and unfairly applied to only one race and gender.
“The ‘blacks are being hurt and need help’ plot obliges white social justice vigilantes and black race-baiters alike to destabilize society by using deception to gain power, notoriety and money while keeping African Americans in a falsely derived perpetual state of panic. This in and of itself could be called racist.”
Mrs Q, I am so glad to see your postings on Ethics Alarms! The words above make a most excellent point and observation about the current state of tensions in America(ns) related to the heritage and legacy of racism in the society. Please post more – GREAT stuff!
Late to the party… life is busy these days.
But I echo all the positive reactions, and repudiate all the negative ones!
(Okay, I did not see any negative ones, either…)