The first chapter, written by Vincent Clark, does little to set up a good impression for the rest of the book. Clark comes off sounding like a simpering sycophant. In the introduction he had already written that his heart was pounding at the mere thought of meeting the accuser, as he called her. He described her in this chapter as an articulate but delicate woman who could only look at him suspiciously because she had been hurt so many times before. Also, she’s a size 0. You know… in case anyone was wondering.
Clark asked her what he could do for her and she tells him that there are people trying to make money off her story (why should they? When she can make money off of it?) and adds that a group of “right-wing bloggers” have led a vicious attack on her person. (Clark, page 17) I’m pretty certain that he’s referring to the bloggers at LieStoppers.
He conveniently ignores the activists groups that declared war on the lacrosse players including the Group of 88, the Trinity Park Protesters, and the New Black Panther Party, who said that the boys were guilty and actually advocated violence towards them. Side note: Malik Shabazz, a representative of NBPP, later claimed that he never stated that the boys were guilty of rape. Instead, he just said that they were guilty. Guilty of what? Being white?
Clark gives a slight nod to the pot bangers but then bizarrely continues, “What if women’s groups, black separatists, bloggers, satellite trucks and high-priced lawyers stayed at home and let the courts settle this?” (Clark, page 26) These are the people who held Crystal up as the ultimate minority victim, battered and bruised by the caucasian patriarchy and Clark thought about them staying home? The people who attacked Crystal motivated her to write an entire book but the people who supported her got one tiny mention.
Then Crystal tells Clark what she wants. What she really, really wants. “I just want people to know the truth… I’m not who they say I am. I’m not lying. Something did happen to me.” (Clark, page 17) Clark goes on to write that he believes her, she’s not delusional, she’s intelligent and she can talk about politics, she’s open and honest about her past and she has a really good GPA. Because having a 3.7 GPA obviously means that you’re a perfectly balanced human being and you would never lie about anything.
Then, of course, Clark veres back onto his favorite topic. He writes that out of all the layers of this case, “The clearest one of the layers, is race.” (Clark, page 19) Then he laughably continues, “Then whenever anyone wants to discuss the merits of the case, no one can really remember any of the facts.” (Clark, page 20) Of course, it’s not that Clark doesn’t remember the facts, the problem is that he ignores most of them and invents his own when the truth isn’t convenient.
And now, the thesis of this book: “I am suggesting that the Duke lacrosse case narrative that you know and have come to believe is a lie.” (Clark, page 22)
But Clark seems so unsure of how the message will come across, so he decides to cut to the chase and just tell the reader what they are supposed to think. “-You will not believe all of the negative things you have heard about Crystal.” (Clark, page 23) I won’t? “Her life is a lesson for young girls and young men about the choices they make.” (Clark, page 24) It is? “Her story will also help you as it gradually helped me put things into perspective.” (Clark, page 25) It will? “It turns out that the weak link was the accuser’s life story and not the facts of the case.” (Clark, page 26) It was? “You will be moved to rethink what you have heard about her and the case.” (Clark, page 27) Yeah, right.
The book shouldn’t have to inform the reader how to interpret it. Does Clark think that his readers aren’t going to be able to come to their own conclusions? Not only that, but telling us that we’ll be moved by her words? He is greatly overestimating his ghost writer’s abilities.
Moreover, does he actually believe what he’s written? Does he really think that this woman’s life is going to change the world for the better? “This project is about helping Crystal repair her damaged life and preparing her to live for the rest of it in the service of others.” (Clark, page 24) Apparently, he does.
The chapter ends up right back at the book’s original pretentiousness when Clark declares, “If the Duke lacrosse players feel their life [sic] has been ruined, it goes without saying that Crystal feels the same way and worse.” (Clark, page 24) That’s right kids, Crystal was, is and forever will be, the victim. It seems strange that someone who wants to tell their story and seek some kind of empowerment from it is so willing to paint themselves as utterly helpless.
Towards the end of the chapter it starts to sound rather eerily like Clark might be slightly delusional himself. He states, “Others will say how they floated stories implying Crystal has been sexually promiscuous immediately before the alleged events when there was no proof that she has been.” (Clark, page 27)
DNA doesn’t qualify as proof? Physical evidence and rape kits aren’t proof? How did the DNA get on her body if she wasn’t sexually active before the alleged events? Did she just not change her panties for six months?
Clark insists that this book is not about the people that Crystal accused of rape, the book is about Crystal and her life. But the only reason that people know who Crystal is is because of her accusations of rape. But the book is about her life. But the rape charge is part of her life. But it’s about her. But she writes about the alleged events that led her to filing the rape charge.
Clark concludes this chapter by informing the reader, “This is the first and best opportunity to hear Crystal’s voice and you should take the opportunity to listen.” (Clark, page 28) Someone please, make it stop.
To read all of the articles in the Last Dance for Grace series, click here. Blogs are in reverse chronological order.