Why Does Quanell X Support Some Rape Victims But Shame Others?
MSNBC Video Screenshot
Quanell X, community leader and head of the New Black Panthers, is probably a good ally to have on your side if you're a crime victim. After all, the man quite obviously knows how to grab headlines. His innate showmanship -- that keen ability to lure in the media -- is what helps him bring attention to cases that aren't as visible in the first place.
But Quanell's ability to draw national attention isn't always a good thing. Not when it comes to his handling of rape victims, anyway.
You see, in recent years, there have been two nationally reported rape cases in which Quanell has spoken out. In both cases, the victims were very young girls. Both girls were minorities -- one black, the other Hispanic -- and unfortunately, both rapes were very brutal.
They seemed, on the surface, quite similar in nature. Yet in one case, Quanell defended the young girl. In the other, he defended the men who were later convicted of gang-raping her. Why were the two reactions so different? Well, that's anyone's guess.
Let's start with Jada, the most recent traumatic case. Quanell appeared on MSNBC this week alongside Jada, a Houston-area high school student who says she was drugged and raped by two African-American men. Following the incident, she was bullied and mocked incessantly thanks to photos of her half-naked, unconscious body, which were posted to Twitter by her peers.
When it comes to Jada, Quanell raised some good questions when MSNBC gave the case some airtime. Quanell asked why there was a five-month lag between the rape report and the arrest -- an obvious issue, considering the evidence in the case -- and he even praised investigators for following through.
Ultimately, Quanell proved a fantastic public supporter for Jada. His appearance helped reiterate to the nation that the teen was very much the victim in this case.
But in the other case -- the rape of an 11-year-old Hispanic girl by a group of 21 African-American men in Cleveland, Texas, in 2011 -- the young girl was very much the victim, too. You'd just never know it by Quanell's reaction.
Quanell was one of the most outspoken critics of the Cleveland rape victim, despite the assault having been caught on video. Photos and the video of the young girl's rape even went viral, and the clips that could be shown on the news were extremely graphic. What couldn't be shown? Well, we'd rather not hypothesize.
Yet for some reason, Quanell did not stand beside the young girl in this case. In fact, he stood against her. And he did so at a press conference in front of a Cleveland church, where he asked where her parents were when this happened.
Quanell started off the press conference by saying that Hispanics "have a right to be angry with black men who ravaged a young girl ... but the first house you need to stop at is her Mama and Daddy's house!" The audience cheered and hollered in agreement.
"How is that child in that community experiencing so much sex with so many African-American men?" Quanell continued. "Where was the mother?"
Such an outright condemnation is not only appalling, it is also entirely at odds with the way Quanell (rightly) handled Jada's rape. After all, Quanell never questioned where her parents were -- not that he should have, mind you. No rape victim or her parents deserve the blame being placed on them.
And Quanell took the blame game even further, suggesting that we should question the child's rape claims since she'd never actually yelled the word rape during the assault and hadn't made an "outcry" until after footage of the assault surfaced. He seemed to care little that some of the men had admitted to the rape -- DNA was even used to wring a guilty plea out of Cordney Demond Bennett, the last of 21 assailants convicted in the case.
"It was not the young girl that yelled rape. Stop right there -- something is wrong, brothers and sisters," Quanell X declared during his speech.
The thing is, Quanell is smart enough to know that just because the girl did not yell rape does not mean the act was consensual. Not to mention that an 11-year-old cannot consent to sexual intercourse with a group of grown men -- or any men, for that matter. He also did not condemn Jada for not yelling rape until photos started to circulate of her assault.
But as odd as that victim-blaming was, stranger still were the racially charged sentiments, an element also missing from Jada's case. He went so far as to claim the investigation into the gang-rape of an 11-year-old girl was being "run by the KKK."
"We do not want someone with a malicious racist motive to rid your community of an entire generation of black men," Quanell said.
At no time -- not once -- did Quanell suggest such a thing was happening in Jada's case, where the alleged rapists were also black.
And even after Quanell's initial comments, he continued to spew the anti-victim sentiment. On Michael Berry's show, Quanell stated that the 11-year-old had simply picked her assailants out of a yearbook.
He also claimed that he had looked extensively at the girl's Facebook page, where he found proof of sexual relationships with other older men who were not black.
But Quanell did not stalk the Facebook posts of the teen girl in Jada's case, or explore her sexual history. He did not blame the victim, nor did he attempt to slut-shame or suggest an ulterior motive at work. He just supported and spoke, aligned with the actual victim.
The final outcome of the Cleveland gang-rape proved the severity of the issue. Of the 21 men, two of the adult men requested trials, and they paid dearly for it. The juries in those cases handed down life or 99-year prison sentences.
Eleven of the other adult males received 15-year sentences in exchange for pleading guilty to sexual assault of a child. One adult male received a reduced seven-year sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to indecency with a child by exposure.
And of the seven juveniles found to be involved in the rape, all entered guilty pleas for seven-year probated sentences.
So given the legitimacy of both claims, why in one case is the girl a victim, and in the other she is an aggressor? It's hard to tell why Quanell's reactions were so polarized, but it seems unlikely that his views on sexual assault could have changed so drastically from one case to the next. After all, there aren't that many differences in the two cases, other than the ethnicity of the victims.
If Quanell wants to act as an ally to rape victims, great. But that support should not change from person to person, gender to gender, or ethnicity to ethnicity. And that's precisely what it looks like may have happened here.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.