The “Deconstructing Stephanie” article (4/30) compelled me to do something I haven’t done in quite some time: think about the psychology behind racism. After all, I am a black woman living in a majority-black metropolis, and we certainly have enough problems in our families and communities without bringing white people into the mix. But the Capitol Hillers’ reaction to Stephanie and the language of the article were just too bizarre to roll by without comment. By the time I reached the fourth page, where a graphic depicts Stephanie holding a snake and the text next to it reads, “Dreher [a police captain] fires up the pep rally: “I said, ‘Listen, we need to find her…’ and ‘Let’s just canvass the area; let’s do a wide sweep,’” I couldn’t help but think of a lynch mob.

If it is true that these kind, loving “do-gooders” (as the article states) were simply trying to show commitment to their virtues by helping Stephanie, then why the need for such vengeance? How did these kind, loving individuals turn into a craven-hearted lynch mob? After discovering there were many Stephanies roaming their Capitol Hill streets, why didn’t it occur to anyone to direct their energies (including anger and betrayal) into developing effective strategies to help these women? It was suggested in the article that Stephanie was incapable of embarrassment—that she lacked conscience. I think Stephanie knew exactly who she was dealing with—people whose kindness and generosity are but superficial accessories to mask their hatred toward black women.

I hope Stephanie finds a better way to survive—without dependence on drugs or the white people of Capitol Hill or anything that seeks to bring her harm. But at the same time, I am grateful, because her actions exposed a deeper, more bizarre ill. When I think of Stephanie I think of those white slave traders who landed upon the shores of Africa with smiles and probably some sob story like Stephanie’s—like being lost and needing a couple of strong Africans to show them the way home. I wonder where men like Capt. Dreher were then? Maybe sailing the boat?

Silver Spring, Md.

via the Internet