Sociologists and psychologists will be arguing over the national obsession with the Casey Anthony trial for months to come. But few seem to have noticed what the case reveals about our attitudes towards the New American Bogeyman, or in this case, New American Bogeywoman: Hispanic Women.
Casey Anthony quickly pointed to her “Hispanic babysitter”, named “Zenaida Gonzales”. As we are now aware, Casey Anthony never met Ms. Gonzales. One of the over 400 women named Zenaida Gonzales in the state of Florida had the bad luck to view an apartment nearby, and this innocent woman’s world has become hell.
Casey Anthony is not the only one. Remember Jennifer Wilbanks of Atlanta, the runaway bride? Ms. Wilbanks was supposedly kidnapped in 2005 by a “Hispanic woman” with a white male accomplice?
In our recent past, the American Bogeyman was an African-American male in a knit cap. At least that’s what Andrea Yates assured us in 2001, after she killed her five young children. Ms. Yates initial statement blamed the then current American Bogeyman. Police even released a sketch of the fictional young African-American male, complete with knit cap.
For the next few days, as a Hispanic American woman, I’ll be pondering how I became the New American Bogeyman. There are the obvious explanations of the increase in the Hispanic population, an undercurrent of racism given that many Hispanics are biracial (Native Americans who have been here for over 30,000 years). Why we have collectively chosen Hispanic women — far too many of whom meet the profile of Zenaida Gonzales, a powerless, impoverished single mother struggling to support her six children — requires more introspective thinking on my part. Please check back!