And when Alice Sebold became famous, the author of the novel lovely Bones bestseller notes lucky, posted processing statement I recently knew the acquittal of 61-year-old Anthony Broadwater, the black man she wrongly accused of rape in 1981, would be an incomplete apology. It took Sebold eight days to finally make a statement—eight days to reflect on the shock and confusion that the news undoubtedly aroused.
Then the 58-year-old author wrote, “I’m really sorry for Anthony Broadwater and I’m so sorry for what I went through.” She went on to lament the fact that “my personal ordeal led to Mr Broadwater’s unjust conviction for which he spent not only 16 years behind bars but in ways that further wound and stigmatizes, nearly a full life sentence”.
While people were asking Siebold to say something –anything-In the days following Broadwater’s acquittal, eight days of reflection on 16 years of false imprisonment of an innocent man resulted in a statement that in many ways highlighted the fallacies and fallibility of what we consider justice in America. There was a stark lack of nuance.
The statement referred to a sincere apology, but it failed because it lacked important elements of truth and accountability. Siebold manages to distance herself from the man who went to prison for a crime against her that he did not commit. She claimed that the systemic issues (i.e., racism) in the American judicial system were not “a discussion, a conversation, or even a whisper when I reported my rape in 1981”. She spoke of “the system that sent an innocent man to prison”, but she never acknowledged the fact that the system she is talking about is racist in nature. In fact, she didn’t even use the words “race” or “racism” in connection with what happened to Broadwater. This omission, I believe, is a way to excuse herself from the inconvenient reality that she, herself a victim, also collaborated – albeit inadvertently – with the same racial system to put Broadwater behind bars.
Broadwater was acquitted on November 22, after a producer developed a film adaptation of lucky I found glaring inconsistencies in the case. 18-year-old Siebold initially identified the wrong man in the police lineup, and later “prosecutors deliberately trained her to rehabilitate her misidentification,” According to the defense attorney. After being randomly approached by Broadwater, months after she was assaulted, Siebold went to the police and accused him of rape, citing her Feeling It was her attacker. Based on this—and the hair sample evidence was later refuted as undesirable science—Broadwater was convicted and thrown into prison.
Sebold’s statement, like her bestselling book and everything else connected to this issue, underscores the contradictions in our cultural conception of justice. What is justice, after all, in a society that is inherently unjust and deeply racist and sexist? Who gets justice, and what does justice look like for people who are harmed at the hands of others and especially at the hands of the state? In America, justice is constantly changing, and one person’s idea of what is just can be just as easily another person’s idea of gross inequality and corruption. It’s the ambiguous nature of the concept that makes corruption so easy.
in a The right to have sexFeminist thinker Amya Srinivasan writes: “For many women of color, the dominant feminist ‘Believe in Woman’ command online #IBelieveHer asks more questions than they recommend solving. Whom to believe, the white woman who says she was raped, the mother of the black woman Or the structure that insists that her son be installed?”
Credibility is a kind of currency, especially in this country, where credibility is often a matter of life and death, freedom or imprisonment. Especially in the case of sexual assault, where it often falls to the victim to prove that they are credible, despite the fact that statistics show that false rape accusations are rare. However, as offensive as the revelation of Broadwater’s false conviction was, his imprisonment is not particularly new.
There is a long and rich history in America of white women falsely accusing black men of rape – a history that exists outside the confines of the legal field, and includes white mobs, boys, and black men being lynched just for looking at white women. False rape accusations are rare, yes, but one should Reconciling that with the truth That 52 percent of people falsely accused of rape are black men, and black men convicted of sexual assault are 3.5 times more likely to be innocent than white men.
When Siebold referred to Broadwater as her rapist (with ostensible training for police and prosecutors), she was engaging in a carnal feminism that relied on harming blacks as a means to an end. It was perpetuating a story. The fact that Sebold can be both a victim and a perpetrator of mischief is a messy one.
Now, keeping all these facts at once, this is how I feel about Alice Sebold as a person: nothing. I don’t think Alice Sebold is “evil,” “a whore,” “she deserves to rot in prison,” or any of the other snapshots shared online in the days since Broadwater’s acquittal. We forget that there is a subtlety and banality to racism that allows it to survive. It’s all too easy to portray a traumatized 18-year-old rape victim as some sort of mustache-spinning villain.
This is not to say, of course, that Sebold’s actions were not blatantly anti-black, and that, as a young white woman in a racist society, she colluded with a criminal justice system more concerned with punishing black men–that is, black. The man – than he is with care and willfulness in dealing with such a delicate and complex crime. In her notes, luckySebold’s prejudices and prejudices clearly clash with the reality of her assault: she writes of her fear of “certain” black men after her rape.
Much of the vitriol sent her way had nothing to do with Broadwater, but with public outrage over a system that allows such things to happen over and over, leading to the failure of rape victims and false accusations alike, that he is more concerned with it. Upholding the racist status quo more than it is in justice as a true ideal.
There are no winners in this system. Alice Sebold lost the peace she ostensibly wanted from knowing that her rapist was behind bars, no longer a ghost that haunted her daily life, and no longer in a position to harm anyone else who had wronged her. Broadwater lost his personal freedom, his reputation, his life, and his light. I don’t think, after all, that the judicial system has the capacity to give either of them the justice they deserve. Alice Sebold put her faith in a carnal feminism designed to weaponize her white femininity against blacks.
The criminal justice system is the flawed apparatus with which we seek to remedy harm, but this is a situation in which correcting harm means rethinking the usefulness of that apparatus. The result is perhaps another way of defining justice: someone has been wronged, and the person who wronged them in some way must be held accountable. So what does Alice Sebold owe to Anthony Broadwater?
I think, beyond compensation in the form of all future profits from lucky And a personal apology (Broadwater particularly liked it), Siebold owes Broadwater to retell his story. Scribner, Sebold’s publisher, recently announced plans to stop distributing the memoirs While “they think about how to review the work.” Broadwater must be included in this process, and with his inclusion must be a nuance Sebold fails to acknowledge explicitly in her statement.
Now that it’s a file lucky The film’s adaptation has been cancelled, documentary director Tim Moshianti has revealed plans to develop a documentary, “Unlucky,” chronicling Broadwater’s journey from wrongful conviction to innocence. The state took the liberty of Broadwater. Sebold took his story. Broadwater will never get back the years he spent in prison, nor the years he spent out of prison but he is still limited by the facts of being a convicted sex offender. At the very least, he should get his story back.