Why Bethany Arceneaux's Story is Resonating: Thanks to Derrimetria Robinson for NOT Being a Bystander
Happy Veterans Day! To all of you who have bravely served our country, thank you for your service to the nation.
Over the weekend I posted a story on the WAOD Facebook Page about Bethany Arceneaux:
Bethany Arceneaux's family didn't rely on law enforcement to find her when her violent ex kidnapped her after repeatedly violating restraining order. They found her in an abandoned house, police missed. They confronted her kidnapper and shot him-he's dead. There is also a video interview with a woman [Derrimetria Robinson] who rescued Bethany's 2 year old son during the kidnapping. We've covered countless stories over the years of bystanders looking on as Black women were victimized or law enforcement taking a less than proactive stance on looking for missing Black women.Protective orders only work in cases of SANE people. This man repeatedly declared that he was going to kill her. Sending light and love to Bethany.
Get full details of the Bethany Arceneaux story at the website for the local newspaper.
So far the Facebook post has over 100 likes ( which only happens when I post about Gabby Douglas, Beyonce, or Amandla Steinberg) and 12 shares.
The narrative of a Black family searching furiously for a Black woman and then kicking down a door to go rescue her just doesn’t fit into the narratives in some corners of the blogosphere with large audiences of Black women. I’ve already read on post by a Black feminist that began by wondering whether Bethany is “Cajun.” (* 1000 eye rolls and pause to hand over the link to the Wikipedia page on the Acadians* and Creole peoples- neither of which apply to this case.). Bloggers want to celebrate a Black woman being rescued, but they might have to confront a departure from the “party line” in certain corners of the Black blogosphere.
The standard line is often A) NO Black men care about ANY Black women or girls, B) EVERY community of Black people is inherently inferior and dangerous and you should avoid/flee them and most important C)There is no cure. Give up! ALL hope is lost- but if you follow me, I will lead you to paradise.
And yet, this story is clearly resonating with Black women, men, and people of all races around the World. Why?
- We love the image of a family, any family, doing what we think families should do- love, protect, care for each other- particularly when times are tough.
- We recognize that the protections of the criminal justice system for victims of intimate partner violence are a JOKE and often times the only way one of these violent relationships ends is with death and we’d prefer the violent aggressor be the one to die.
- We like the idea of vigilante- do-it-yourself justice when law enforcement/ judicial system fails.
- We’d like to think that if we were imperiled, we’d be rescued.
- We want to be important or viewed as valuable/worthy. There’s nothing worse than thinking your life doesn’t matter or that you are unworthy.
Broad declarations writing off entire communities make for awesome blog posts, but in reality- most Black women and girls live in Black families. A large number of them will marry and/or have children with Black men. And many of them will live around other Black people.
Navigating and combatting internal issues of violence, misogyny and sexism takes more effort than throwing up your hands in exasperation and walking away - but for the vast majority of Black women and girls, combatting these cancers in Black institutions like the Black church, the Black family, Black Elite Establishment, Civil Rights Industrial Complex and Black entertainment is necessary. You have two options when facing danger- fight or flee. Some will FLEE all things Black and others will fight. Flight and fight are both legitimate options. When you're dying on a deserted island, you patch the boat you have.
And so this is your reminder that life is often more complex and nuanced than blog posts allow. You are not a movement- you’re a human being. Taking an ACCURATE inventory of the resources available to you requires some amount of precision.
One reader on the Facebook Page posted this:
It used to be that families protected their own like this. Black women today could use families like this. Imagine BW and BG being valued en masse like this.
We still have Black families like this. When I heard this story, it sounded familiar to me. What we see foisted on us on television, radio, print and in movies is just ONE version of the Black family. The image of the Black family has been held hostage by a small group of people. Which is why I am so aghast when I read about people acting indifferent to the suffering of others. But like these people, I grew up in a relatively small city where you would have a family, friends, and neighbors rolling deep through fields looking.
It is important to maintain a distinction between “blog life” and “real life.” In real life, there are lots of dysfunctional families ( Bethany's might be one of them). But there are also families who will hunt for a Black woman and risk their lives to rescue her and her child.
Black women and girls have access to more resources than we sometimes acknowlege.