Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Barbie Bandits: Another Hot NAACP Mess

Sure, teen pregnancy is on the rise again, foreclosures are rampant, and yet another artist has caught vocoder fever [1], but if you didn't know any better, you'd assume the NAACP didn't have bigger trout to fry.

Case in point, the fine folks of the Georgia branch of the venerable civil rights organization are pulling yet another of their white vs black sentencing scams.

The head of the Georgia NAACP called for the state to investigate the sentences given in the so-called "Barbie bandits" bank theft case, saying the two white defendants got less prison time than two black men.

Last month, Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary Staley sentenced 20-year-old Heather Johnston to 10 years probation after she pleaded guilty to a charge of theft by taking in the 2007 heist. The judge gave 19-year-old Ashley Miller two years in jail and eight years probation. Both women are white.

Michael Chastang, 28, was sentenced to 10 years for being the mastermind of the robbery, and bank teller Bennie Allen III, 23, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to five years. Both men are black. Chastang also is serving 15 years on unrelated drug-trafficking charges and Allen was on probation for a drug conviction.

Johnston and Miller - both former exotic dancers who went by the stage names "Charlie" and "Adrienne" - were nicknamed the "Barbie bandits" after they were videotaped wearing sunglasses and laughing as they appeared to rob a Bank of America branch in Acworth of $11,000.
If you're wondering why on Earth the NAACP is wasting time of such trivial sh*t when clearly black folks have bigger issues than defending two convicts, look no further than the organization's charter. It clearly states that it's not their job to raise your damn kids, but don't hesitate to give them a ring if they happen to catch a racially tinted charge while exiting a house they just broke into.

Sorry for the cynicism, even I thought the whole Barbie Bandit thing was jive silly. Two black chicks robbin' a Bank of America wouldn't be called Frankie and Cleo [2], they'd be called Suspect One and Suspect Two. America loves sensationalizing this sorta crap, thus most articles about these young ladies practically called them innocent victims who fell under the spell of these menacing Negroes and were hypnotized into pulling that heist. The white damsel-in-distress is an angle as American as apple pie, so it's not too far-fetched to imagine that scenario playing out in their favor while in court.

But this isn't about that. Reality is, you do the damn crime, you just might could do some damn time. And these two brothers, by virtue of helping pull off this inside job are just as liable as the dimwit bleached blondes who got all the airtime.

Both black men involved just happened to have prior convictions, while the white chicks were merely strippers, which shows remarkably poor judgement (just look at that photo, no wonder they had to supplement their income by robbing banks) and taste but is hardly illegal. And since we're somewhat on topic, how the hell do you explain a dude with a drug conviction getting a bank teller gig in the first place? Maybe I better think about Wachovia. Damn.

Either way, I just wish the NAACP would come clean and stop the whole "civil rights" charade. It's clear the organization, just like the SCLC and Urban League, is little more than a reactive dinosaur on life support that thrives off occasional press clippings. An excellent Washington Post article the other day outlined how these organizations are on their last legs financially, and basically inflate their membership numbers to present the illusion of relevance. But I think we're all smarter than that.

And we're all definitely smarter than that hiring manager at Bank of America. Sheesh.

Maybe it's time to acknowledge the obvious. The NAACP is what it is: a reactive racial justice organization. Nothing less, and non-apologetically, nothing more. Perhaps we should let them off the hook and stop expecting some magical all-knowing, all-seeing organization to swoop in and solve all our problems. Not when the obvious solution (everyone just chipping in and doing their part) is so glaring.

Question: Do you think the sentencing discrepancy in the Barbie Bandit case is racially motivated? Do you think the NAACP should intervene?

NAACP Wants Probe Of "Barbie Bandits" Case [CBS]

The Fall of the 'Barbie Bandits' [ABC]

Civil Rights Groups Seeing Gradual End of Their Era [WaPost]

[1] Lil' Wayne, seriously, WTH?
[2] Name that Flick.

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