EDITORIAL: Maybe Kodak Black shouldn’t be back
Response to rapper’s release from prison raises important questions
Twitter was animated as news of 19-year-old rapper Kodak Black’s release from jail hit the web. A wave of “#FreeKodak” tweets were trending and people were excited to have the rapper back in the studio and recording more songs. But what was rather alarming was that not many people, even during the time of his first arrest, were talking about why he was in jail in the first place. In fact, it seemed as though no one really knew what Black was originally convicted of.
Kodak Black, born Dieuson Octave, was originally in prison on charges of armed robbery and false imprisonment of a child. The judge in charge of his case was planning to release Black and place him on house arrest, but a warrant against Black was discovered. The warrant was for drug paraphernalia — and sexual misconduct.
To properly assess the crimes Black committed, it is important to understand the exact charge. Before the discovery of his sexual misconduct, Black was facing charges for “false imprisonment.” False imprisonment is defined as the “unlawful restraint of a person against their will by someone without legal authority or justification.” In essence, Black had allegedly kidnapped someone, except it doesn’t qualify legally as “kidnapping." This is still disturbing.
Sexual battery, on the other hand, is often considered a lesser charge than rape or sexual assault. However, in Black’s case, this includes the penetration of the victim. His crimes included him biting the victim and attacking her orally. His charges, which are punishable by up to 30 years in prison, could still potentially land him in jail because he was released on bond. Black is out of jail (for now) after being charged with sexual battery of a woman, and the internet cheered.
Let’s go back to the Stanford rape case, where Brock Turner — who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman — was released from jail after only serving half of his already-short six-month sentence. The internet was enraged, and rightfully so. People took to Twitter, and for weeks they voiced their outrage at the release of someone who had committed such a horrendous crime. So the question remains — where is that outrage now?
There are obvious differences between these two cases. Turner had raped an unconscious woman, who wrote a heart-wrenchingly honest letter about the violation she faced. Black’s victim was unnamed and unknown. Turner’s release from jail was on account of the judicial system whereas Black’s release was due to his bond being paid. But the matter of concern here is not the failing of the judicial system, but the reaction of the public that followed both crimes.
Although the gravity of these cases may seem far from similar, the sexual, physical and basic human rights of a woman were shattered in both crimes. So why was the internet so angry at Turner’s release but so happy with Black’s?
A lot of this has to do with Black’s upbringing and classic “started from the bottom” narrative that shows someone marginalized by society coming into a place of power, while Turner was viewed as a privileged kid who went to Stanford. It makes a difference to your audience when you grew up in violence and commit a crime as opposed to being a “daddy’s boy” and committing a crime. But the internet and its millions of users failed to look past this. Because Kodak Black is a famous rapper, and because he is a comedic figure to younger ages, the gravity of his crime is admissible to the public. But this is wrong. Standing up to injustices should be a priority no matter who the person is that commits them. And if you were upset about Brock Turner, as you should have been, you should have been upset about this too.
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