What do Herman Cain, Emmett Till, and Tyler Perry have in common? (Sincere apologies to Emmett Till and Tyler Perry!)
Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain–who never, ever, ever had even a snowball’s chance in hell to ever be anywhere near the eventual Republican presidential ticket, let alone the White House itself–prides himself on the fact that he overcame his roots as a poor African American growing up in the segregated South.
Just 10 days after he “suspended” his disgraced campaign on Dec. 3, Cain celebrates his 66th birthday, which means: more than his eligibility for Social Security and Medicare, which he would dismantle in a heartbeat, undercutting support for millions of Americans his age and older; which means that six months before his tenth birthday, the most shocking crime of the modern Civil Rights era took place–the murder and dismemberment of 14-year-old Emmett Till, near Greenwood, Mississippi.
Emmett Till was murdered in the summer of 1955 while visiting relatives from his home in Chicago, because he had the impudence to “wolf-whistle” at a White woman in public in Missisippi. The event shocked the country, and served as a lesson for all little Black boys Herman’s age and older, concerning the sexual etiquette surrounding White females and Black males. Four years later the lesson was driven home again when Charles “Mack” Parker was lynched, in Mississippi, for allegedly raping a White woman.
All manner of “contact” between White women and Black males was strictly forbidden and violently enforced in the South of Cain’s childhood. Herman Cain could not have grown up in the segregated South and not known this “prime directive.”
When I say all “contact” I mean all forms of contact, including leering looks at White women, otherwise, the out-of-luck Black guys might find themselves severely whipped or even murdered for what was known as “eyeball rape.”
So maybe this is why three of the four women who have been publicly identified to have been a part of alleged improper sexual behavior on Cain’s part since the late 1990s at least, have all been White. Maybe Cain’s so-called “Jungle Fever” attraction for White women was just his way of avenging all the Black men–”Strange Fruit”–as Billie Holiday sang about them, who ended up hanging from trees in Dixie, Cain’s home.
Whatever was his motivation, his alleged behavior appears to have been predatory. All the alleged victims were down on their luck, unemployed women who needed a helping hand out of their financial difficulties. The woman who drove the metaphorical wooden stake through the heart of the Cain presidential campaign, apparently received cash money from Cain without his wife Gloria’s knowledge of the payments, and was reportedly flown to exotic destinations where Cain traveled “on business,” but unaccompanied by his wife.
Cain’s tactics remind me of the conduct of so many abusers–serial murderers of prostitutes, and Catholic church pedophiles, for example. They all seemed to prey on a certain type of vulnerable potential victim. Which brings us to Tyler Perry, who was a victim of sexual molestation when he was a child, and who, he confesses, was actually blamed for his own abuse when his ordeal was finally revealed. Perry disabused that notion–which the Cain camp at first employed against his accusers, demonizing them for their financial distress, as if that made the reality of their allegations less true.
“You have nothing to feel ashamed of,” Perry wrote in an open letter Nov. 30 to the 11-year-old who revealed he was allegedly molested by a Penn State University football coach. “I want you to know you didn’t do anything wrong. Please know that you were chosen by a monster. It’s not your fault. You didn’t ask for it and, most of all, you didn’t deserve it.” True concerning the 11-year-old Penn State victim. True concerning the victims of Herman Cain.
Finally, there is one additional character, from fiction, of whom I’m reminded whenever I think of Herman Cain. He’s Uncle Ruckus,
from the Boondocks comic strip and animated television series The Boondocks.
He is a self-hating Black man who disassociates himself from other African Americans as much as possible, and is outspoken in his support of what child character Huey Freeman in the series calls the “White supremacist power structure.” The name Uncle Ruckus may have been derived from Amos Rucker, a Black, United Confederate Veterans member, who allegedly wanted to stay a slave after the Civil War–the real-life prototype of Herman Cain, 150 years ago.