Thursday, October 17, 2019

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

There are some books that linger in your mind long after you have completed them. This book, "Know My Name" by Chanel Miller is one of those books that sticks in your thoughts long after you close the final page.

Chanel is the woman who was sexually molested by Brock Turner and her words, as the anonymous victim, gave a voice to millions of survivors.

Goodreads says this about the book and this assault - "Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral–viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time. Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life."

In this memoir Chanel shares the story and background of who she is as well as events that happened after this sexual assault. But what lingered in my mind after reading her book is how the raper, his family, and the judicial system seemed to see Brock, the rapist, as the victim in this story. They saw Brock's future was now being at risk. He now would not go to the Olympics. He now would not become an Orthopedic Surgeon. The life everyone expected from him was now in jeopardy and they all blamed HER - the victim - the one that was raped!

This story is one of white privilege and how being white and wealthy means the system considers the perps potential worth and inconvenience in its sentencing. If Brock had been a poor kid, or a person of color, his penalty and judgement would have been different, and we all know it.

I also found it interesting that when it came time for Brock to compensate the victim, it was then when his REAL resume was used by the judicial system. No longer was he the guy who was going to the Olympics or becoming a surgeon. NOW he was just an ordinary life guard making minimum wage. NOW there was no money to compensate his victim so a type of lay-away plan was created so Brock only had to pay a few dollars each month over an entire lifetime. For me, I once again saw a judicial system that is rigged for the privileged.

I also found the story of the sentencing judge interesting. The sentencing judge received a backlash of anger from voters in the Bay Area of CA and he was forced out of his job. The judge said he felt betrayed and that his entire career had become reduced to this one sentencing incident - the case of Brock Turner. What lingered in my mind is how the judge was now experiencing the type of situation he had bestowed on many others in his court, including Chanel Miller. The judge had refused to see Chanel (and others in his court) as anything more than just a nameless, woman of color (Asian) with no political or financial clout. The judge's entire career was now being seen through a different lens - a judge who protected a privileged perp. Karma is a bitch.

The book "Know My Name" is an inspiring story. Chanel Miller is an excellent and engaging writer. I hope we will see more books from her in the future.