False kidnapping claim angers activists

April 22, 2010 4:30:55 PM PDT
Adding to the loss of a two-month-old baby's life and making the situation even more difficult to bear is the fabricated story about an African American who was said to have taken the child. This clearly isn't the first time someone who is black or a minority was blamed incorrectly for a criminal act. But to some, that doesn't make it any less offensive. The mother had claimed that a man took her child from a stroller in Briarbend Park on Wednesday, but police say that turned out to be a lie after she led police to the baby's body overnight near a bayou.

The case has so many sad turns, including say community activists, the attempt to blame the crime on someone who doesn't exist, someone of a different race. We found out, it's an action all too common when desperation overtakes sanity.

When initial reports of the baby being taken by an unknown black male were proved untrue, a well-known community activist had a problem. Quanell X says blaming the crime on a minority is unacceptable.

He said, "What it says, what it indicates is that black men are the face of crime in America. It says black men will commit these heinous crimes that no one else would commit."

Quanell is demanding a public apology from the baby's family.

Dr. Luis Salinas, Professor of Sociology at University of Houston, explained, "Scapegoating does occur spontaneously."

Dr. Salinas says falsely accusing and blaming minorities for crimes has a long history worldwide, not just in the US. He is not surprised to hear the claim of a black man taking the baby and says blaming others has worked in the past.

"For the scapegoating to work, there has to be two characteristics," Dr. Salinas said. "One, they have to identifying and two, relatively powerless to defend themselves."

Regardless of how or why the crime happened, members of Houston's Iranian community are stunned. However, the Iranian Cultural Foundation in Houston says the Iranian culture does not openly encourage public discussion of private problems such as mental illness.

"Iranians keep things private, very much so," said Kathy Soltani with the Iranian Cultural Foundation. "There are things that happen that you don't want your brother or sister to find out about."

Yet the very work of the foundation is to bridge the cultural gap between Iran and America. They work diligently to encourage Iranians, especially women, to ask for and seek help when needed.

Soltani said, "If she had made the phone call we would have gladly helped her and held her hand and guided her to the right professionals."

People we spoke to expressed great sadness that more help or more attention wasn't given to someone who was seemingly so desperate. Unfortunately this is not the first case of a mother accused of killing her own child.

Load Comments