It is enough to make the blood boil. Opened up the 5/9 City Pages to photos of Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald and was torn in two directions. To the left, she wore a bright, heartwarming smile, grinning wrist to wrist with nothing short of captivating radiance. To the right, she looked like hell, her face savaged, bleeding. Hell of a contrast. How’d it come about?
Well, CeCe and a few friends, minding their business as they went on a food-run to the local supermarket, were set upon in South Minneapolis by patrons of a bar, Schooner Tavern, who’d stepped onto the sidewalk to have a smoke and, presumably, shoot the accustomed sugar, honey, iced tea. And, when they spotted CeCe and company going down the street, promptly began fouling with them.
Being White in these Twin Cities so renowned for supposed social progress, Dean Schmitz and company felt absolutely entitled to assail Cece McDonald, who is Black, with racial and homophobic epithets. On a drawing board, the ideal thing would’ve been for CeCe (she’s transsexual) and her friends to ignore these ignorant fools and go on about their business.
Fact is, we don’t live on a drawing board. And it is understandable that they talked mess right back. Which led to throwing down in the parking lot.
A woman crashed her glass into CeCe’s face, leaving a gash it took 20-odd stitches to close. Whereupon CeCe, it’s reported, turned to get the hell out of there only to be pursued, persistently hounded and harassed by Schmitz. Whom she stabbed. In what can — never mind reasonably — what can only be construed as self-defense. He died at the scene.
Dean Schmitz brought his death on himself, never having the first idea a
“faggot” would fight back. This one did. And, taking a plea bargain instead of serving 25 years or more, she will spend the next three years locked up. For a crime she did not commit.
She didn’t murder him in the second degree, as the charge read. Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald killed Dean Schmitz to keep him from killing her. And now she won’t see daylight for a long time.
None of this is the worst of it. The real thing is that Black people in Minneapolis and St. Paul have given piss-poor support to one of ours in desperate need. Where is that knee-jerk Mau-Mau Northside posse when there’s no photo-op to advance vested agendas?
It’s a sad day when White kids at, of all elitist institutions, the University of Minnesota have a Black person’s back better than Black people do — last month, there was a conference hall there packed with supporters. It’s a cryin’ shame.
And, for all we are great at Bible-thumping, calling on the Holy Ghost and all the rest of it, this is not about whether God created Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve. It is about one of our children — McDonald isn’t but 20-something — being as close to lynched as possible. (Had Schmidt and them other Neanderthals who’d just come out of a bar had their hands on a rope, what do you think would have happened?)
And then being railroaded through the criminal justice system! (Richard Pryor summed that up perfectly with his quip on justice: “Come down to the jail and that’s what you’ll find — just us.”)
You have to ask why on earth CeCe McDonald would cop to a bogus plea instead of fighting for her right to be freed. Then you have to look at what she was facing at a trial, a jury of her peers. Right. More than likely 12 White suburbanites, born and bred to a credo that, out of hand, considers same-sex marriages an inherent abomination and looks on transsexuals as some sort of freakish miscarriage of mankind.
Tragic as it is, in the same place, you or I might well have, in this let’s-make-a-deal excuse for true justice, taken the same lesser of available evils. Still, that doesn’t make it right.
Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald, odds are, will have one hell of a book deal in the offing when the prison bars open back up. Meanwhile, she is jacked up. And hunting season is open on the next one.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.