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dotsonVirginia Dotson is an 84-year-old black American woman who was violently thrown to the ground by the police outside a Walmart near Columbus, Ohio on August 1st 2009. She was thrown down so hard she was bleeding from her head.

Dotson did have a steak knife, but she also had a cane and did not seem to be an immediate threat: people passed right by her.  Onlookers were more upset by how the police acted than by Dotson herself – so much so that four more police cars had to be called in to keep things under control.

One of the onlookers recorded it on his mobile phone and posted it on YouTube (video to follow).

Dotson’s daughter had left her in the car while she ran into Walmart to buy some things. She was taking a chance because Dotson has Alzheimer’s: her memory is failing so she does not always understand what is going on. Her daughter thought she would be safe, though, because she did not know how to take off her seat belt.

Dotson saw a steak knife in the car and cut herself free, cutting herself in the process. Dotson left the car to look for her daughter. She was bleeding with knife in hand! Some children approached her and it seems she threatened them.

By the time the police arrived people seemed calm, though Dotson still had a knife in her hand.

Officer Tammy Scott, a white woman, came towards her and asked her to drop the knife. Dotson would not. So Scott took her by the arm and violently threw her to the ground and then got the knife out of her hand. But she threw Dotson down so hard that onlookers were shocked and began to gather. They were afraid the police were going to hurt her even more.

It seemed like they cracked her head since she was bleeding from there. But she was not knocked out, though she did need stitches later. Her wrist may have been broken too.

This took place a few weeks after the police went overboard against another older black person with a cane: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

But unlike the Gates thing, this case got very little press. According to Google News a week after the event there were only four news stories on it. While it did make a top newspaper in Britain (Daily Mail) and a top blog in America (Gawker), it was not picked up by AP, CNN, the New York Times or any large news outfit in America.

Why is that? Is this acceptable behaviour by the police? Are black people so threatening to white people that they see nothing wrong in this? Or is it because Dotson is black and so the whole affair does not matter to the white people who make the big decisions about what gets reported nationwide as news? You know, the same people who like to report on missing white women.

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halleHalle Berry (1966- ) is an American actress, the first black woman ever to win an Oscar for Best Actress. In America she is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful black women alive, even now in her 40s. She was Miss Ohio USA in 1986, a Bond girl in “Die Another Day” (2002) and has long been a face for Revlon.

While she is beautiful, I would not go to see a film just because she is in it, like I would with Gabrielle Union.

She won the Oscar for playing the lead  in “Monster’s Ball” (2001), where we see her make love to the white racist prison guard who put her husband to death. Angela Bassett refused the part because of how it made black women look. Berry took it and won an Oscar.

After the Oscar win and her success playing Storm in the X-Men films (2000-2006), she was given the lead in “Catwoman” (2004). Few black actresses are given the lead in any film  aimed mainly at white people, at least not without appearing opposite a white person. Unfortunately, “Catwoman” was terrible – so terrible she won a Razzie Award for it, which she accepted with good grace.

She does not try to just get by on her pretty looks. When she was going to play a crackhead in “Jungle Fever” (1991) she talked to crackheads and went for ten days without a bath. I can still remember her performance.

Apart from the Oscar she won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for what I think is her best film  by far: “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” (1999).  She was perfect. She is something of a latter-day Dorothy Dandridge herself.

She has been married twice: first to baseball player David Justice (1992-1997), then to singer Eric Benet (2001-2005). She is now in a long-term relationship with Canadian model Gabriel Aubry, who is white and ten years younger than her. They have a daughter together, Nahla, born in 2008.

Life with Aubry seems to be a happy one, but her past with men has not always been so happy. One boyfriend hit her so hard that to this day she cannot hear well out of her right ear. When Justice asked for a divorce she was in such pain she came close to killing herself – only the thought of her mother finding her body pulled her back from the edge.

She is diabetic, the kind where you need to take shots all the time.

She is 5 foot 5 (1.66m), too short to be a model.

She is named after Halle’s department store in Cleveland, where she grew up. Her mother is white, her father is black. Her father left when she was four. He came back once but then was gone again for the rest of her childhood.

When they moved out of Cleveland to live in the suburbs people called her “zebra” and put Oreo cookies in her mailbox. Her mother told her that when people look at her all they will ever see is someone black: they will not know that her mother is white – nor will they care.

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