Assassins and Child Molesters

I didn't sleep last night. I had too much on my mind.

I was distracting myself from myself with the early morning cable news when the first report of Benazir Bhutto being assassinated came on. It's heartbreaking to see such a thing happen because she didn't deserve it. Who could think that God would bless such actions? And true, lots of people are "assassinated" by rival gangs every single day in this city and none of them deserve it either. But it matters in a different way that such a thing would happen to her at this time in history.

I still don''t know what to do with the story, what to make of all the political fallout from it. There's certainly enough political jockeying being done by those currently in power and those who are running for President in this country. But I don't know what to make of it, and so I will tell you about something else that's been on my mind, something I can not necessarily make sense of, but it's not an unfamiliar topic. In fact, I've seen it too much.

Do you remember the group B2K?

You probably don't if you aren't one to keep tabs on the ever-revolving door of pop culture, but B2K was a boy band from LA that had a string of huge hits a couple of years ago. All the teeny-bopper girls on both sides of the pond were crazy for them and they seemed to perform on every music awards show under the sun. They even made one of those dance movies that come along every once in awhile, "You Got Served".

They weren't the most stellar singers on earth but they could dance and had great production, so it worked. Here's the video for one of their biggest hits, "Bump, Bump, Bump". I remember when this song came out it was definitely a banger, and it went to #1 on Billboard, but the video creeped me out for a few reasons.

First, it features Sean Combs, also known as P.Diddy, Puffy, Puff Daddy, etc. He's creepy in his own right, but an additional creeptastic vibe was created because he's like twice the age of the teenage B2K boys. It's a really weird dynamic to watch him performing such a sexually suggestive (written by Chi-town's finest, R. Kelly) song with them.

Second, the female "dancers" in the video also seemed to have a few years on the guys. It could just be the power of makeup and hard living but the women definitely didn't seem to be 17 year-olds. Everyone wants to talk about older men and young girls, but a wink and a nod is given to younger guys and older women, like being 17 and able to pull a 21 year-old means you're some sex stud.

Third, I got to thinking about how I'd feel if those were my sons. It made me think about how I wouldn't want my sons around that industry, with all the predatory people who just seem to be absolutely morally bankrupt and just pimping folks for profit.

And then suddenly, kaput. B2K was over. The lead singer, Omarion, ended up going solo but the rest of them disappeared...until now.

A few days ago, two of the former members alleged via a YouTube video that their svengali-like manager (and cousin?), Chris Stokes, molested them and other members of the group beginning when they were pre-teens.

Many people don't know that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused in this country. When I was a teacher I'd look around my classroom and know that statistically, sexual abuse had happened to at least two or three of my students. I'd look to see which ones still sucked their thumbs when they thought no one was looking, which ones danced a bit too suggestively on the playground.

When I was supervising teachers, it was always heartbreaking when one of my teachers would call and ask what they should do to work with a student they'd recently learned was being abused. It never was an easy answer.

There are a lot of folks who have had some relative, family friend, coach, pastor or stranger sexually abuse them. But folks don't talk about it. And we damn sure don't discuss how it happens to boys. I find that there is so much abuse going on that sometimes there's a "just get over it" kind of message sent to victims. Plus, there's a vibe that boys like the abuse if it happens with a woman.

But what if the alleged offender is a black male? And it's not Michael Jackson? And the victim is also a black male?

What does it mean for these young black men who were the object of a million teen girl fantasies to put a video of themselves on the internet where they allege such crimes? And one explicitly references having had anal sex performed on him?

For the young men, making such allegations is the equivalent of giving up their mythological status as a heterosexual, well hung, black male sex stud. The word "gay" rapidly started to fly around the sites that were reporting the story. LAPD began an investigation...and very few doubted that the claims weren't true. Because what black male in his right mind would want to go down the path to being considered, as the term goes, "suspect"?

Today, one of the young man from B2K recanted his allegations.

At least 20% of abused people recant so what are the adoring B2K fans to believe? Especially now that the other alleged victim has stated that the recantation is due to being rolled up on and threatened by Compton Bloods.

Yes, gang members. Sounds crazy but that makes it all quite believable to me...remember the story of Suge Knight hanging Vanilla Ice off a balcony? Yeah, not so far-fetched anymore, is it?

Al Queda or the Bloods. Take you pick. Because whether someone is an assassin or a child molester, surely both are killing someone, even if for the victim that remains alive, it's all a figurative thing.


1969 said…
This is by far the best post I have read regarding the topic.

Great writing Liz.
the last noel said…
I don't know how to process Bhutto's death either. I read about it this morning and went into shock. Regardless, these crimes (murder, abuse) is sometimes hard to deal with. Writing about it is a good way of going about it. If it weren't for my creativity, I think I would have been taken away in a straight jacket long ago. Create something beautiful and thought provoking to balance the negative forces killing everything.
the joy said…
Its crazy what some do in the name of "peace." I was seriously hurt when I found out bhuto was killed.

When I was in middle school I was practicing for a play where rehearsals ended up being more like therapy. One day we were talking... You wouldn't believe how many girls in that room CONFESSED to abuse, let alone those that didn't say anything. Sigh... Every time we sat nothing, we make ourselves all the more the victim, and reenforce the stigmas.
Mes Deux Cents said…

Once again those gossip sites miss the point and go into attack mode.

You're right; he was bound to recant his story to maintain his 'manhood'.

It's amazing the box some Black men allow themselves to be put in. From the time some Black boys turn 8 or 9 they even stop getting hugs from their mothers. It's time to be a man.

What a harsh way to live. This (B2K) guy can't even be a victim.

On Benazer Bhutto

I had been following her journey returning to Pakistan. I really admired her fierce braveness in returning to such a dangerous situation without any hesitation.

I can't even imagine her strength.

Pakistan will more than likely still be suffering from this loss 50 years from now.

Also, we won't find out what governments had their hands in this for decades.
You're right that molesting a child kills something in him just as surely as bullets kill their victims.

It seems as if the world grows more violent every year. We seem to be regressing as a species in many ways.

I'm terribly saddened by Benazir Bhutto's murder. She was amazingly courageous and a rare voice of sanity in an increasingly demented world.
I applaud those young men of B2K for coming out with the truth-- even though one of them recanted the story. The thing about pedophiles is that they usually always find a way to work with children, in positions of trust. Makes you leary about any man who desires to work with the young: Is he simply a good, sensitive person who loves youth or is he a closeted, perverted freak?

How can you tell???

And as far as Bhutto, I must admit I did not know anything about her or her life, but I was struck by her physical beauty--however shallow that may sound. Now, I fully intend to do my research about her life-- before it's senseless, sad ending.
Anonymous said…
It's appalling how much child abuse and sexual abuse goes on. I expect you've read about the constant stream of child abuse cases in Ireland carried out by respected Catholic clergy. As dmb says, how can you trust anyone who wants to work with kids any more? The bad apples have put question marks over everyone else.
A Girl Again said…
my head is aching/spinning. I would love to re=post tis at BMD. This is a critical and grossly overlooked issue.

email me Liz.
Jameil said…
i can't stand r. he makes me vomit. child molesters really piss me off. i never looked at this song like that. i guess b/c i was in college when it came out. i'm not that much older than them. yeah, it was suggestive, but i didn't look at it like that. with more distance, i can see it but its far from pretty ricky. you want to talk about sexually suggestive? those children disgust me. it could be partially attributed to my age and distance from them but i think its also partly related to the fact that their lyrics really are repulsive coming out of anyone and out of a 15 yo is just ridiculous. GO DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!
Liz Dwyer said…
I wish the circumstances were such that this post never even came to mind, never came into existence.

The funeral held so quickly and her book now being rushed to print, and it still hasn't sunk in.

A straight jacket or some sort of addiction would be in order for me as well. Although, some would say writing is becoming a sort of addiction for me. By the way, I was in Vroman's last night. Thought about how that's the last place I saw you. Seriously, bookstores = Noel.

The Joy,
I can believe it. You make me think about how when I was 17 and hanging out with a bunch of folks and the guys were asking all the girls, "So are you still a virgin?" One girl said no because she'd been raped by her uncle when she was 11. Next thing you knew, one guy started spreading rumors about her, "She's nasty. She f**cked her uncle," and some of the guys figured she was easy. It just made me sick because she took a risk to be honest and it totally got thrown back in her face.

I am so conscious of this "manhood" mythology with my sons. I take care to hug and kiss my almost 7 year-old as much as the little one. I think Black men get this "box" handed to them from the time they're born, and most of the time, don't even realize it. It's like a mental, physical and spiritual shackle.

The Al Queda thing seems to be a little too convenient as far as Ms. Bhutto. Will we ever know? And what is the CIA if not another gang?

I don't know if I'd have the courage to walk out of the house every day and speak, knowing that assassins were waiting for me. It takes a deep sort of courage to accept that death may be a reality and yet still go forward.

There was an article in the LA Weekly a couple of weeks ago about gangs and it focused specifically on Watts. One of the guys interviewed talked about how there was a lot of sexual abuse, how most folks he knew had either had it done to them or were committing it. It was really, really sad. Ugh, I really hope the B2K boys get help from a good therapist.

Yes, so many people genuinely enjoy helping children develop their abilities so it's a shame that pedophiles use that same strategy to get access to kids. Of course, a large number are related to or somehow know their victims. It's a matter of easy access, molest the child that's close at hand.

It'll be interesting to read Bhutto's book when it comes out, post-humously. So sad that this is the way it is.

Yes, and the LA Archdiocese has had to pay millions from lawsuits. Wasn't the global settlement from all the lawsuits like $600 million dollars or something? Too bad all victims don't have someone to sue. I think pedophiles should get life in prison. I don't trust rehabilitation efforts at all.

Being Mama Daily,
Sure you can repost. I had a headache most of yesterday as well. I'm sure thinking about all this contributed.

Oh Pretty Ricky, they're sooo nasty! One of my co-workers used to looove them and had "Hotline" as her ringtone. I'd make her laugh in boring staff meetings by sitting next to her and singing, "Pretty Ricky, Ricky, Rickaay" under my breath!

You ever notice how when white teeny bopper groups come out, their handlers try to make them seem so wholesome. But when black teen groups come out, particularly males, it's so sexualized. I'm always like, "How are you even getting in the club to mack?"

As for Kells, my other half loves him. It's a standing argument in this house. I've said, "What if that was your daughter?" Sooo hard headed. I think he'll get off like most celebs do.
Tafari said…
Damn, you have a serious writing power. Not too many people can tie international politics to molestation in the hood!!!

I was saddened by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto but I think we (world news watchers) all knew it would be a matter of time before she would be stricken down by the will of a maniac.

Hopefully Pakistan can bounce back but from the looks of things, it will be a while & take a lot of work.

I heard on NPR a comparison of Bhutto/MLK & it seemed appropriate.

In regards to the Balls 2 Kiss, I mean B2K drama, I feel sorry for the victims because:

-They were more than likely abused
-Their reps are jacked & will be known as gay & liars
-That come back album, will never jump off

Black male sexuality is a taboo issue if it deviates from the norm & I think that we as a community need to accept that black men are out there molesting/raping black boys. It happens & family keeping their heads buried in the sand on in the sand on the issue is not helping at all.

Without the proper help & or counseling these boys face a long dark road.

Did anyone see "Woman Thou Art Loosed"???

Jen said…
I'm still in shock over Bhutto's assassination. And, sadly, I'm in repetitive shock over the abuse that abuse victims have to suffer many times over, in terms of not only the horrendous acts that have been perpetrated on them, but the way they are treated when they do come forward.
Liz Dwyer said…
It's all a matter of seeing molestation in the hood as really being a matter of international politics. We see folks who are disenfranchised, the disaffected youth of other countries as ripe for cultivation by terrorist organizations but we refuse to see our own in that same way. And truly, a gang is a terrorist organization.

You're right, nothing is solved by folks putting their heads in the sand. It happens all the time though.

The way victims are treated is a disgrace. I wonder what sort of therapies will be available in the future for victims.

And you know, this sort of abuse happens so frequently that I think I have a hard time leaving my sons alone with anyone because of it.
DJ Black Adam said…
We should hire the assasains to go after the child molesters. Two birds with one stone I say...
Liz Dwyer said…
I'm all for it. All for it!

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