Sunday, June 15, 2008
After the verdict of the R.kelly trial, I thought about the response of the black community to this trial and other situations when black girls (women) accuse black men of molestation/rape. Secrecy permeates throughout the black community in this area and yet the rates of sexual abuse in the black community is the same as in other communities but who believes black women when we become brave enough to say, "I've been violated".
This is less about R.Kelly and his issues with young girls but with how we need to protect our girls and women. Molestation/rape in the black community isn't new so we can't say its because of broken homes, absentee fathers, hip hop, etc. Our grandmothers have stories, our mothers, our aunts and cousins all have these stories. No one was taken to jail. No one received therapy and sometimes, even those in the church would tell women to just hush up. How do we think this abuse manifests? What goes in, must comes out, right?
Black women are accused of being bitter, angry, and mean spirited. Why? What are we angry about? What is happening to us that keeps us angry? I've written on my myspace blog about the lack of smiles from sistas. We don't smile. Where is our inner glow? Who took our smiles away and how do we reclaim them?
A part of the anger is that some black women feel unwanted by black men. Our beauty is always in question and if our family line had refrained from miscegenation, this seems to be a negative. What, no Indian in your family? I've had black men tell me that I'm pretty, "to be so dark". When my locs were short, I didn't get much love from the brothers. Some of our men don't love our beauty. So you have women who have internalized this while still wanting the love from a black man. We go out and by "yak no. 2" hair. We stay out of the sun. Our own self-hatred has everything to do with how we treat each other. Remember in "The Color Purple" when Mister called Celie, black and ugly. Shame. Imagine if you've been sexually abused and then you hear these messages that your beauty is unwanted. Once again, who is protecting our women.
Unfortunately, the fight against sexism in the black community is secondary to racism. I've actually heard black women tell me that in the face of sexism, fighting racism is still the priority. I remember a situation when a co-worker was being very inappropriate with mostly the black women in the office. I had quickly established my boundaries with this co-worker so I didn't have this situation continue. One day, a group of the women came to me complaining about the co-worker. They hated how he touched them and spoke to them. Of course, I first told them to address this with the co-worker. They were fearful. At this point, I knew this had gotten out of hand. I went to the executive director and simply told him that this situation had gone on for months and that he needed to speak with the employee. What do you think occurred? The women were mad at ME. Why? Because he was the only black male at the agency and this could possibly get him terminated. These women stopped talking to me and my assistant. I could care less. The irony is that the co-worker and I were still cool. He knew I was the one who spoke with the executive director and we talked about his behavior on the job. The women were willing to be sexual harassed to protect "the black man".
Where does this come from? No matter the community, one of the definitions of a "good woman" is standing by her man. Black men are so beat down by society, us women aren't suppose to add to the pain. Right? We are to be blindly supportive. I'm all for support. I'm a ride or die chick. I'm with you but you will not abuse me because I won't abuse you.
We have to lift the veil of secrecy on sexual abuse. We need our men to become the protectors of our communities. Even as "liberated" as I think I am, I seek out that protection from the men I've dated. I want a man that will do me no harm and will protect me from whomever is seeking to do me harm. Am I a strong woman? Yes. But too many black woman don't know what its like to have this feeling and there are times you want to feel it. Yes, we are strong and yet, we are still women. I'm a woman. Bell Hooks mentions that black women are not viewed as delicate creatures. We (the field slave) were in the field with our men. We tended the land next to our men. Maybe there's a struggle for black men to see us as "WOMEN", beautiful, precious, and special. Maybe this is why so many women are choosing expose their bodies (along with the number of women who have been abused). Maybe, maybe, maybe...... I just want women to be able to feel like they can come out in the open when they've been abused by their uncle, cousin, father or maybe even their mother and seek the help they need. They will be embraced and love by their community. The church will stand up for them and provide the counseling needed. No more secrecy. No more division. I love my brothers. I want them to love the dark, nappy headed amazon that I am. Rise Up brothers. Heal sisters.