Black Women Are Not Thy Brother's Keeper
In August of this year, we watched Donald Trump tweet about former reality star and White House aide, Omarosa, calling her a “low life dog” to the entire world. And Congresswoman Maxine Waters began receiving death threats from hateful individuals because she was speaking her mind. Time and time again we are seeing Black women abused in Waffle Houses, pool parties, media, and the business world.
When Black women are demonized, it is not surprising. Gendered racism is laced into the fabric of our nation’s foundations. If women are calling out sexual harassment and assault under the guise of the #MeToo movement, they must put racialized sexual harassment in context and examine the systematic attacks on black women.
Historically, Black women have marched, protested, and organized entire communities to take action for Black men. It is time for Black men to stand up and protect Black women from the ongoing attacks they face.
Oprah Winfrey acknowledged and lifted up Recy Taylor, the Black woman who was raped by six white men in Abbeville, Alabama in 1944. They confessed but were never indicted. There should be an outrage when Black men choose the same demonization towards Black women as others do.
Last year, Black men rallied and boycotted Colin Kaepernik to get the quarterback back into the game on a permanent team. Of course, it’s necessary to be adamant about a qualified Black man’s right to be treated fairly in the workplace. But Black men weren’t willing to boycott the NFL when it covers up, supports, protects, or defies NFL players who have been accused of sexual assault or domestic violence.
Why so ready to “die for Kaepernick” to get his job back but not about protecting Black women with instances like Ray Rice knocking out his wife in an elevator?
Black women didn’t boycott, so…. Really. So, if Black women don’t organize their own protection against domestic violence, Black men won’t stand up for them at all?
This, of course, only works one way. Black Lives Matter, for example, is a movement created by Black women in the wake of ongoing police killings of unarmed Black men. These women have organized and demonstrated specifically for many of the male victims of police violence.
Black women never have to be told to help other Black people – they just do it. When do Black men rally around Black men? Black men don’t organize to ostracize men who abuse women, physically or verbally.
Teresa Fry Brown, a professor preaching at Emory University said it best in a Facebook post: “When will we stop the constant utilization and understanding of Black women as singers, dancers, comforters, cooks, cleaners and wombs on one hand and the scapegoating, castigating, and demonizing of black women as the ignorant, hapless, dangerous, useless, conniving sole agents of the demise destruction and death of all black men on the other?”
When Black men choose to attack Black women, it gives permission to others to take the same privilege, hiding behind the words of Black men to justify their own contempt.
Black women will continue to stand, because that’s just what we do. But we need support to keep us going.