Do they all look alike?

Since we are now talking about Duke, we should talk about it one many levels (this is The SuperSpade, right?). So, building on Sakara R.’s excellent piece, I’d like to look at another aspect of this situation.

In the Duke case, we have another instance of one race accusing another race of a crime. Most people know that this usually leads to complex emotional reactions from the accuser, the accusee, and fellow members of the respective races of both parties. I had a whole piece in my head about this, but I read Malcolm Gladwell‘s (author of Blink and The Tipping Point) thoughts on the subject and the broader issue of eyewitness testimony.

I know that I am guilty of saying things like “There are only 5 categories of white people,” and other statements (I know how ignorant that is, but I have said it. Pray for me.). Gladwell says that many innocent people may be locked up because of this mentality. As a Black man, I know that to be the case. The question that must be asked, if we are going to be intellectually responsible, is why do we often reject that this same phenomenon occurs in the opposite direction?

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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora and am a National Campaign Director at I currently live in Washington, DC with my beautiful wife Ellen. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. Today I work at the crossroads of traditional political organizing and online activism. I speak before diverse audiences on empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation though emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet.

5 responses to “Do they all look alike?”

  1. Hummingbyrd says :


    What are the five categories if whitenecks?

  2. Garlin II says :

    Well, since you wanted to go there, let me be more specific. Actually the comment was made in jest during a conversation about whether we (me and others in the conversation) thought that all white women looked the same.

    The reason I refer to that here is because there are many people who joke about things like this, and many others who genuinely feel this way. These dispositions, whether playful or real, lead to discrimination, prejudice, racial profiling, etc. These dispositions are the reason why people have made assumptions about the Black woman who is the victime of the alleged sexual assault in this Duke case. It could also be the reason why it has been difficult to identify the specific perpetrators of the alleged assault: maybe she thought “they all looked the same.”

  3. The Blog says :

    I think they raped that girl. REgardless if she is a stripper or not something does not seem right with the lacrosse team story. Yes, race has played a major factor in the handling of this case.

  4. field negro says :

    Good insights Superspade, and in my opinion a farly accurate take on the situation.

    Keep doing what you do fam and stay up!


  5. field negro says :

    BTW, what happend to my man Brandon Q ?


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