When white women are violated, America responds and the response is immediate.
The violation doesn’t have to come attached to criminal charges, lawyers don’t have to vet the accuser’s entire background, there aren’t editorial meetings where stories are canned because the victims are the wrong color, wrong sex, and in the wrong tax bracket and because editors are worried about their friends in elected office being embarrassed. The violation doesn't even have to be true. Just the mere allegation from a white woman of her being violated in some sexual way is still enough to bring this country to its knees — and for there to be consequences.
Case in point: Just three days after a New York Times investigation detailed numerous incidents of alleged sexual harassment by media mogul Harvey Weinstein, the board of directors at the Weinstein Co. fired him. That’s all it took. Well, three days, a New York Times exposé, and a list of white women who claimed the powerful film producer engaged in inappropriate conduct that included sexual harassment, unwanted physical contact, and sexual advances. I cannot overlook the involvement of white women because they played an important — if not decisive — role in the media's decision to cover the story and the swift action taken on Capitol Hill that reverberated all the way to the boardroom of Weinstein’s own company.
As expected, actors, producers, and elected officials are falling all over themselves to either distance themselves from the situation or to jump on the bandwagon condemning Weinstein for his behavior. Former and current employees are saying they knew about his behavior. There are reports of clients of the Weinstein Co. threatening to stop working with the company if Harvey Weinstein was still associated with it, and the Republican National Committee has put out a national call for Democrats to “return dirty Harvey Weinstein cash.”
Meanwhile, right next door in West Hollywood, just two months after a black gay man was found dead in his home of a crystal meth overdose, it’s business as usual for a prominent Democratic donor alleged to have engaged in some inappropriate conduct of his own. Ed Buck is a white man of means with a list of alleged victims who have come forward with stories about a man who they say has a Tuskegee Experiment-like fetish, which includes calling black men the n word and shooting drugs into them that he picks up off the street or via dating hookup websites.
Gemmel Moore was found dead of a crystal meth overdose in Ed Buck’s home July 27. At the time, his death was immediately classified as an accidental methamphetamine overdose by the coroner. Moore was a 27-year-old black gay male who worked as an escort, while Buck is a 63-year-old well-known white gay male Democratic donor. Now, while most people would not be able to explain away a dead body in their house and have the police accept it, in Buck’s case he was able to do just that. But now the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s homicide bureau is taking a closer look after Moore’s personal journal was published.
In his journal, Moore wrote, “I honestly don’t know what to do. I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,” a December entry reads. “Ed Buck is the one to thank. He gave me my first injection of crystal meth it was very painful, but after all the troubles, I became addicted to the pain and fetish/fantasy.”
“My life is at an alltime [sic] high right now & I mean that from all ways. I ended up back at Buck [sic] house again and got munipulated [sic] into slamming again. I even went to the point where I was forced to doing 4 within a 2day [sic] period. This man is crazy and its [sic] sad. Will I ever get help?”
“Slamming” refers to gay men injecting drugs such as mephedrone, GHB, or crystal meth.
Moore’s last entry, dated December 3, 2016, reads, “If it didn’t hurt so bad, I’d kill myself, but I’ll let Ed Buck do it for now.”
Since Moore’s journal was published, other young gay black men have come forward with photos, emails, and text messages recounting similar stories involving Buck and accusing him of being a sexual predator, kidnapping, forced drug use, injecting unconscious black gay men with crystal meth, filing false police reports to cover his crimes, coercion, pimping, and pandering.
These victims have helped to paint a very clear picture of a man who preys on vulnerable black men — and when I say clear picture — one of the victims produced an actual photo of Ed Buck with one of the victims smoking crystal meth.
Because the other alleged victims of Ed Buck didn’t have the good fortune of being born white and female and therefore deemed automatically innocent and credible in the eyes of law enforcement, some of them claim they were not taken seriously by law enforcement officials when they tried to file complaints about Buck for injecting them with crystal meth while they were unconscious. Immunity had to be granted to those willing to make statements to the police so that they could safely give their statements without being arrested and or charged for admitting to engaging in crimes themselves — because they are after all still black men dealing with the criminal justice system.
But back to Ed Buck. Like Weinstein, Buck is a well-known contributor to the Democratic Party and has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic causes and candidates over the years. His Facebook page boasts dozens of photos of him with such luminaries as presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, California Gov. Jerry Brown, California Democratic Party chairman Eric Bauman, and even Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Campaign finance records show that Buck has given at least $30,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Locally, the money has been spread around to members of Congress, the state legislature, and even Los Angeles’s city and district attorney — the two offices responsible for filing criminal charges in cases like this.
Similar to Weinstein, whose offenses are said to date back to the '90s, Ed Buck’s exploits have been been known and talked about in West Hollywood and elite political circles in Los Angeles for decades.
However, when the news of the scandal involving Moore’s death at Buck’s home broke, unlike with Weinstein, very few Democrats had anything to say. In fact, it was the complete opposite reaction. Democrats used their silence to protect him.
Behind the scenes, Democratic leaders in California have been enforcing a code of silence under the guise of saying that they need to wait to see what happens with the investigation. However, with Weinstein, all it took was one article in The New York Times — and no criminal charges or even the hint of criminal charges for Democrats to jump into action.
Even though there have been published text messages, emails, and photos — they need to wait for all of the facts to come out before they react. The chair of California’s Democratic Party, Eric Bauman — a gay man himself who is well acquainted with Buck — has had nothing to say publicly.
When Moore’s family and friends started a petition calling on Democrats to return all of Buck’s dirty money to a fund to support Moore’s family and the other victims, only one Democratic Congress member did so. One out of dozens and dozens of Democratic officeholders, clubs, and committees.
On more than one occasion the mainstream news media — and even alternative media — passed on reporting the story of Moore’s death, citing various reasons from their legal departments being worried about getting sued by Buck to the witnesses refusing to allow themselves to be identified. Since when do we identify victims of sexual crimes who don’t want to be identified? I’ll tell you when. When they are black. It has been a long-standing rule that the media refrains from identifying victims of most sexual crimes, unless the victim is willing to speak publicly. But in the case of Buck, the media wants his victims to essentially “out” themselves and be revictimized in order for their story to be taken seriously or even told.
But consider this. Even the New York Times exposé respected the wishes of privacy of some of the women alleging misconduct by Weinstein.
And I quote, “The woman, who asked not to be identified to protect her privacy, said a nondisclosure agreement prevented her from commenting.”
Similarly to the white women accusing Weinstein of wrongdoing, the black men accusing Buck said they felt embarrassed and worried that no one would take them seriously because of who Buck was and because of who they were — black gay male sex workers and escorts.
But when white women are the victims, the reaction from America is considerably different.
Already The Hill is reporting, “Nearly a dozen Democratic senators — including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and several potential 2020 presidential contenders — are pledging to donate the contributions they’ve received from Weinstein over the years to nonprofit groups advocating for women who have been the victims of sexual abuse.”
The Democratic National Committee has announced that it will give the money it received from Weinstein in the most recent campaign cycle to a trio of women’s groups. Other Democratic campaign committees in Washington are working with lawmakers and their campaigns to assess how much Weinstein — whose donations date back to the early 1990s — might have given to their candidates and organizations.
My comparison of Weinstein’s alleged victims to Buck’s isn’t to minimize or belittle their experience but to show in black and white how two similar situations are treated by not only society in general, but by law enforcement and the news media.
For some of you reading this, this might be the first time you’ve ever heard the names Gemmel Moore and Ed Buck. After learning about Buck’s alleged exploits —especially when compared to Harvey Weinstein’s — you should ask yourself, why is that?
JASMYNE CANNICK is a nationally known writer and commentator on political, race, and social issues. She was selected as one of Essence’s 25 Women Shaping the World, one of the Most Influential African-Americans in Los Angeles Under 40. Follow her on Twitter @Jasmyne and online at JasmyneOnline.com.