Excerpt: On Race, Class, and the Duke University Lacrosse Scandal

Race, gender and class aside, it is important to note several Duke students sincerely felt this particular team had it coming — a viewpoint based largely on their antics. Like the lawless monolith that was Goliath, they witnessed the lacrosse team carry on unruly and unchecked, a male alumnus describing them as a “rowdy, rambunctious and privileged” group gripped by an elitist attitude whose Friday-night frolics would be felonious if were committed by Duke’s predominantly black football team. Worst, he felt their supporters purported their innocence by virtue of this very privileged identity, as if “there’s no way that these rich guys who grew up in upper middle-class New England could possibly do something like this.” 

He also found fault with the issue of race superseding gender in several of the discussions that ensued in the aftermath. “The main issue should have been sexual assault and gender equality, but [people] can’t look at it without the racial lens. And then, there’s no way to even try to defend either side without it being, ‘Oh you’re just saying they didn’t do it because they’re white,’ or ‘You’re just saying that they did do it because she’s black,’ and I thought that just crowded the whole situation.”

Even as the evidence for legal wrong-doing became scarce and their innocence increasingly apparent, some students, particularly the racial minority and the low-income, still could not embrace the team as wholeheartedly as others. Yes, the legal case was spearheaded by an overzealous district attorney hellbent on seeing the players rot in prison, but when one couples the racial insults that surfaced from that night with African-Americans’ 400-year rendezvous with an unjust criminal system that at several points in time seemed to intrinsically function to disenfranchise them, black folk just weren’t that sympathetic.

I even recall several students thinking it was an opportune moment for influential (read: white) people to be subjected to the biases and corruptions that can rear its head in the judiciary system whenever race and class are influential factors. Don’t cry for them, Argentina. This was a common sentiment amongst several student groups.

- From “Duke Lacrosse Rape Case Still Hits a Nerve 5 Years Later”