Jackie Carter was charged with disorderly conduct following an incident on April 30, 2011, in which she booed a Bowen McCauley Dance Company performance at Kenmore Middle School. The incident was detailed by the Afro newspaper last week, and then picked up by the Washington City Paper on Friday.
The performance, which featured live music by a Kenmore Middle School band, included a dance number that Carter said she found to be “racist and offensive to African-Americans and African American women especially.”
“The skit involved a white child and her black mamee singing and dancing together to the song ‘Lil Rabbit where’s Ya Mamee,’” Carter wrote in a lengthy blog post. “The Mamee scene was a celebration of the many black women, enslaved and used as wet-nurses and the many other unspeakable crimes committed against their enslaved minds, souls and bodies.”
Carter says she booed a performance of the scene on April 29, 2011, but left peacefully after police showed up. Carter, whose daughter was attending Kenmore, then expressed her disapproval to numerous Arlington Public School officials, who listened but apparently declined to take any definitive action.
As Afro reported, Kenmore’s principal later defended the performance, writing a note to parents explaining: “The word ‘mammy’ used in the song is a colloquial affectionate term for mother or grandmother and was used historically and still today in some areas by both African and White Americans, especially in the south.”
On April 30, Carter again showed up to Kenmore to protest the performance. Carter says she handed out letters of protest to members of the audience before the show. During the scene, she started booing. That’s when she says she was assaulted by several people associated with the dance company, including current Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes, who’s also an honorary Bowen McCauley board member.
“Mary Hynes and 4 additional Bowen-McCauley staff members began hitting me and pulling my arms in many different directions,” Carter alleged. “I yelled out ‘get off of me’ … a man, representing Bowen McCauley put me in a head lock and squeezed my neck.”
“I attempted to return to my seat when another man also Bowen-McCauley staff member began pushing me in my chest and blocking my forward movements,” she continued. “I was able to get around him, I return to my set and continued booing the ‘Mamee’ scene.”
Carter says she left the theater after the scene, but was then confronted by police. She was ultimately detained and charged with disorderly conduct, a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
“We had to arrest Ms. Carter at the school on 4/30/11 because she caused quite a disturbance,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal told ARLnow.com in May 2011. The incident did not make the department’s weekly crime report at the time.
“It didn’t make the Crime Report because it was just a disorderly conduct charge released on summons,” Nosal explained.
According to court records, the next hearing in Carter’s case is scheduled to be held in Arlington County General District Court on April 23.
Update at 5:45 p.m. — Hynes declined to comment, citing the pending criminal charge against Carter.