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She Told Us So: Nafissatou Diallo and Dominique Strauss-Kahn's New Case

Tuesday, April 03, 2012 Leave a Comment
The other day, I came across a story about French business titan, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and his new, sexually related charges of "pimping" women in France. If the name sounds familiar to you, it's because Strauss-Kahn was accused of raping an African chambermaid, Nafissatou Diallo, in a New York City hotel last year. The story made world-wide headlines, as the business man was, at the time, head of the International Monetary Fund and a possible contender for the French presidency. Although, Strauss-Kahn had quite the history of sexual harassment and lewd behavior prior to this event, many in the media sought and succeeded in destroying Ms. Diallo's credibility and claims. Strauss-Kahn had all charges in this case dropped in August of 2011.

Given all of this, I was not the least bit shocked to learn that Strauss-Kahn was holding sex parties with prostitutes for himself and his friends. My first thoughts after learning of the new allegations were about Ms. Diallo, and what her initial reactions must have been after hearing these new developments. I was certain then, as I am now, that no reporter who covered the Diallo - Strauss-Kahn story would pen a story saying that Ms. Diallo was right all along. Why? Because, Diallo is a black woman -- a black, African woman to be exact.

Although it was Strauss-Kahn who was charged with a crime, it was Ms. Diallo who received a trial -- one via the media. Prosecutors, law officials and the media spouted that given Ms. Diallo's  alleged past lies and misgivings, it was impossible to trust her story.  No one for a moment seemed to doubt Strauss-Kahn's account that a consensual sexual act took place, not rape. There was no general admittance that race played a big factor in the sullying of Ms. Diallo's image. Here was a working-class, immigrant accusing one of the most powerful men in the world of an act of violence! Who did she think she was? It was evident that despite her past, Ms. Diallo was not going to get the benefit of the doubt or a fair trial.

A black woman's word is never enough. Some may say that is an opinion, but I'll argue that it is a fact. Our cries of victimization are mocked and laughed at; our testimonies twisted and turned to appear preposterous and inconsistent. Even when we are proven to be right by the corroboration of others, we are rarely given credit. Rape culture thrives in America, and when it is a black woman who is the victim those pressures intensify by a thousand. I don't care if Ms. Diallo's friends were drug dealers and in prison (as it was reported); that by no means should have negated the fact that she may have been brutally attacked by a man who has been known to abuse his power and influence time and time again.

I am not here to debate or convince people on the guilt or innocence on Dominique Strauss-Kahn; I think a timeline of his behaviors does that on its own. I am more so concerned and angered at the fact that a crime may have gone unpunished  simply because of the victim's sex and race. In the Spring and Summer of 2011, Nafissatou Diallo tried to tell the world who Strauss-Kahn was, but her words deemed untrustworthy. Now, through his actions Strauss-Kahn is telling us, "She told you so..."

Valerie Jean-Charles is a 23 year old community servant and writer in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a BA in Political Science from Fordham University. Follow at @Empressval to join her never-ending conversations about everything and then some.

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