The Oak Park Police Department released its crime statistics for 2018. For those who actually care about the facts and statistics, it is not a surprise that Oak Park is still a relatively safe community. 

There were 1,650 investigated crimes. But check this out: The number of calls to the police was 66,286!

Oak Park Police Chief LaDon Reynolds said the data underscores the fact that, “Oak Park is a very safe place to live, work and raise a family.” However, what I want to pay attention to, is this next part: 

“I understand how word of a specific crime or type of crime can shape one’s perception of personal safety,” he said. “But I also believe these numbers should allay the concerns of residents whose perception of crime may be based more on news reports and social media posts.”

White women, I need to tell you something difficult; you are not in danger from black men/black children. Black men do not want to harm you.

The truth is, white women in Oak Park are not in danger; white women in Oak Park are dangerous.

This myth of “fragile white women, in danger of attacks by black men” is as old as America in the movie Birth of a Nation. This narrative is as recent as the manifesto written by Dylann Roof, the terrorist who assassinated eight members of the church in South Carolina. This idea of white women being fragile and in need of saving from black men or people of color (POC) is still seen and used as a tool of racial oppression today.

While it’s a new academic field of study — that of white fragility and white women being perceived as helpless and in need of saving — as a tool of racism, it is something that black folks and POC know intimately.

What does this have to do with Oak Park? I wish we could just ignore the white Oak Park women who believe myths about perceived danger. But the reality is that, both nationally and locally, scared white women, spreading myths about being in danger, are extremely dangerous to the black community and have real consequences.

Actual crime in Oak Park: Oak Park Police investigated 1,650 crimes in 2018, Burglaries and thefts, which historically represent the vast majority of crime in the village, remained the biggest categories at nearly 87 percent of all crimes committed in the community in 2018.

Number of calls to the police: Police responded to 66,286 calls for service in 2018.

The police currently do not track the number of stops or harassment to citizens. But I would posit that although there were only 1,650 actual crimes; the number of calls to the police for “service” (aka a white woman feeling scared), i.e. 66,286, is the more important number. How many black people, especially black boys, were stopped, harassed, scared, or arrested by those 66,286 calls?

Seriously, 66,286 calls to the police? For a total of 1, 650 actual crimes, and these were not violent crimes, the vast majority were, “crimes of opportunity”?

My challenge to white women is this: Get out of your fantasy and into reality. You are not in danger from black men; you are dangerous to black men. You need to work to eliminate unconscious racial biases. Also, let’s stop this narrative of white women being weak. I know many of you, and you are not helpless; you are strong women. Lastly, the most dangerous demographic to white women in Oak Park are white men in Oak Park. 

For the love of God, stop calling the police every time you are scared. 

Just stop. 

ShaRhonda Knott Dawson is a west suburban resident who is involved in multiple service organizations and projects in, and around, Oak Park. Her writing can be found on her blog, sharhondatribune.com.

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