Dear Black Men

Social Justice

Dear Black Men,
I came to you two weeks ago with concerns about your lack of representation in regards to Korryn Gaines; I was met with white noise and static. Again you met us with silence, and those who did respond to the issue at hand responded to us with ignorance and anger. You met us with hostility and victim shaming, once again you did nothing to protect us.
I don’t need your responses of “not all black men…’ or “maybe if she had done this or that differently”. You sound like the white apologist that blame us for our own deaths, and expect respectability politics and compliance to keep us alive. You love black women in their effort to love you unconditionally but you treat us like Kaepernick critics when we hold you accountable. All your life you’ve been waiting to disrespect us when we step out of line, or call you on your shit. Waiting for the opportune time to call us bitter black bitches when we hold you responsible for your actions or lack there of. We have stood up for you for so long that WE are the true MARTYR’S in this cause. You want us to suffer so black liberation can live; you want to be liberated so you can further oppress us.
Nate Parker’s rape allegations have come forward and hear you are once again, vilifying victims. Using black liberation as an excuse for sexual assault, using conspiracy theories to shame a dead victim. Why do we, a new generation, continue to feed the code of silence? That black women should not condemn black men when they are indeed some of our most vicious abusers. And maybe you personally have not sexually assaulted anyone, but maybe you stood idly by while your homeboy did, or listened in on crass conversations and said nothing. You’re guilty, and you don’t want to hear that. Our community confuses holding you accountable with criticism; it’s not the same thing. Accountability improves our community and makes us better; it helps us to raise better men and encourages conversations about rape culture and consent.
While you’re defending Nate Parker’s “alleged” actions, he’s admitting to them and admitting to his privilege. He admitted she was unconscious and he took advantage of her. He admitted that he never really understood or learned about consent and rape culture. Nonetheless you can’t get over your own privilege to see that, it’s a lesson that black men in America could all stand to learn and a productive conversation to have. You would much rather burn your own women at the stake in an effort to preserve your pride.
We protect black men at all cost; we protect them so often and so viciously that victims protect their abuser. 60% of black women are sexually assaulted, at least 25% occur in childhood and at least 30% occur in adulthood. These aren’t strangers assaulted women, its people we know. It’s you, your friends, your father, and your uncles. Yet you manage to make excuses about your pervy uncle, further enabling his behavior, and when we come forward you spend your time blaming us. Of the 25% of black women assaulted in childhood, how many of those girls deserved it? Pedophilia within the black community is a real problem, and we encourage it by thinking we can protect our daughters simply keeping them away from Pervy Uncle Joe. 90% of children that are subjected to sexual assault are assaulted by people they know, so you are not protecting your children, you are in fact protecting and enabling Pervy Uncle Joe.
What about those assaulted in adulthood? Their assailants were more than likely not strangers. How many of your friends have gone to a party with the intention of taking a drunk girl home, a girl they know will be comfortable with them? What about your married friends committing spousal rape? What about girls you’ve slept with before these are real situations, situations that you know of. You know about these situations and take part or do nothing. You know about these real life situations and reduce to sluts and whores that got what they went looking for. 
Sexual assault and unhealthy relationships with sex within our communities go all the way back to slavery. Where we were treated like property, raped and beaten in front of our husbands in an effort to diminish your manhood and make you feel helpless. We were forced to bear the masters children in order to produce more livestock, or forced into sex with other slaves in order to create the strongest hardworking offspring. Black women had no choice but to be used as concubines, then suffering the abuses of a jealous spouse. This is where the hypersexualization of black bodies begins, but instead of changing a 400-year-old trend you perpetuate it further. You hypersexualize young black girls, or sit by and listen to your friends do it, you encourage rape culture, and you negate yourself of responsibility when it comes to educating your sons about consent.
So again here we are… begging you to come to our aid. Begging you to see us as victims and not villains. Black men don’t need more allies, you have them, but we do need you. We need you to hold other black men accountable, and we need you to protect us, women and children alike. Stop perpetuating the hypersexualization of our bodies, and taking innocence from us.

Rape isn’t a distraction

Social Justice

After watching this video about Nate Parker and his part in a rape case when he was 19:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7wupF1V-d5c
I felt very conflicted about seeing The Birth Of A Nation, a movie our family was originally very excited about seeing. Nate Parker is a VERY successful actor and becoming a well known leader in the black community.

Because of this many members of the black community feel the sudden resurface of this case is due to his success. I noticed the same thing with Bill Cosby and the Anita Hill case. Why are we so willing to condemn victims and blindly follow black leaders and celebrities? 

Is it because we are so deeply rooted in an unhealthy relationship with sex that dates back as far as plantation life? Maybe because since slavery we have been taught that our bodies are not our own. Black men couldn’t protect us then and they are unwilling to protect us now. 

I take this personally because I am a victim of sexual assault and apart from those close to me I never came forward to report it. Because of this it took a long time to have a healthy outlook on sex. Black families don’t talk about the gross uncle,cousin, or friend that leers at young girls. And our community members blame victims for their plight. 

We’re called fast ass girls if we develop too soon, and they will look for reasons why we deserve it. I noticed this and saw it more clearly when a local high school basketball coach was accused of rape of a male student. Not only was he a volunteer coach, but he was a substitute teacher, AAU basketball coach and ran a group home. Community members rallied behind him and condemned the victim. Then more came forward in troves… The count on his charges have surpassed 50 and they include statutory rape and crimes against nature.

What is wrong with us as a community? Why is it so easy to blame victims? Black women have a 1 in 4 chance of being sexually assaulted, and these are the odds before we even turn 9. So why aren’t we protecting these victims? Because you’ve heard rumors about women who lie about rape? That occurs about 6% of the time, that percentage isn’t even relevant enough for you to make that comparison. 

So when are we going to start having conversations about consent and turning in dirty uncles? Stop teaching our daughters to be victims and teaching our sons to respect women and their right to say no as well as accepting a lack of an answer as no. 

While people are defending Nate Parker he has essentially admitted to his wrongdoings and his male privilege. The timing itself may be convenient but the act itself is inexcusable.

You can read the article here:

http://www.ebony.com/entertainment-culture/nate-parker-rape-charges-consent#axzz4IXuYYFFQ

The disabled community and police brutality

Social Justice

So just a quick fact about the Holocaust: in a effort to create a pure and superior race the Nazi’s not only murdered Jews but Gypsies (Romanian decent), Slavs, Mulattos, Homosexuals, and the Handicapped.
You may be wondering what that has to do with anything at all, and how it could possibly be relevant today. Well let me share a still very relevant poem by Martin Niemöller that I especially love and the answer may become more apparent.
 

“ First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me”

 

In this fight FOR equality and AGAINST police brutality many people find themselves exempt, or find a certain margin of disconnect between themselves other marginalized people. We cannot use these feelings as an excuse to continue to look the other way in terms of police brutality and disenfranchised groups of people. Right now it may not be about you, but eventually it will be your turn. It has been painfully obvious in this fight against police brutality that no demographic is exempt, women, children, and the disabled are all targets as well.

What has become increasingly difficult for me to watch, is the lack of empathy when it comes to police interaction with people of varying forms of disability. Just here in Charlotte North Carolina, A deaf man by the name of Daniel Kevin Harris was gunned down after what police say a seven mile police chase took place. His brother commented that they both had negative experiences with police officers because of the inability to communicate with him, which is what triggered his fear. He was more than likely trying to get home in order to have someone translate for him. Witnesses say he seemed to be doing sign language in an effort to communicate before being shot to death. Should a difficulty communicating be a death wish?


After once again falling down the rabbit hole of facebook comments I found a plethora of individuals that could once again validate this mans death at every turn. No matter how undeserving it actually was. So how many more people have to die because of a miscommunication? May it be a language barrier or a hearing impairment? What’s more concerning is the lack of education in dealing with individuals with disabilities this puts ALL of our disabled family and friends at risk. They are already 50% of the victims of police brutality. So who do we call to help them when they are in need? Or when we as caretakers are in need of assistance? Because lets not forget the behavioral therapist shot while trying to assist his autistic patient. In reality disabled individuals are the reason for 15% of 911 calls, so why aren’t officers better equipped to handle these situations?

My younger sister has a disability and so does her boyfriend. He recently called 911, nothing was wrong and he was scared upon the arrival of the EMT’s, so because he wouldn’t open the door they called the police for assistance. Imagine how this incident could have very easily been tragic. He could have reacted in a way they may have perceived as threatening. So now we have to have conversations about how dangerous the police can be when essentially they should feel comfortable calling them when necessary.

So this isn’t a fight that black straight men are in alone, women, children and the DISABLED are in this fight too. We have to actually be in this as a united front because we are all in this together and we could all be victims at some point. We have to put enough pressure on our local police that they start to implement change and reform, in order to better police in our communities. We know that none of us are immune, so are you going to wait until this mass genocide affects you? Or continue to hope that you can skate by undetected?           

 

 

Black Breastfeeding Week

attachment parenting, Women's Health

In leu of National Breastfeeding Week (which was last week) and Black Breastfeeding Week coming up on August 25th, I felt it was important to write about ways we can encourage breastfeeding in the black community as well as how to create a more positive experience for yourself.
A large portion of your experience begins before birth, often times black women aren’t even presented with the information to breastfeed because healthcare professionals assume black women don’t breastfeed at all. This is a preconceived racial bias that we can only combat with knowledge and adequate representation. If breastfeeding is something you are truly considering do a little research on your own and be sure to bring it up in your initial appointment. With this solid first step your doctor/midwife can refer you to the professionals that will be necessary for a positive experience should there be any complications during your breastfeeding journey. By no means does this relieve the personal responsibility of your healthcare provider, but it does get you the information that you need. In addition to arming yourself with knowledge, it may benefit you to seek out a black obstetrician/midwife. Many black women have had positive experiences when their team of health care providers represents them, and understands their needs. This also prevents racial bias, and guarantees you will get the information you need.
Be sure to let the medical staff on duty know that you want to breastfeed as well, be clear about your efforts and put them in your birth plan. I was sure to tell the labor and delivery nurse that I didn’t want them to offer my baby a bottle or pacifier at any time, and I initiated breastfeeding immediately after birth and skin to skin contact. Many hospitals are making the transition to baby friendly facilities, this includes encouragement to breastfeed and letting the baby sleep in room (instead of wheeling them off to a nursery).
Another way to create and encourage a positive and effective breastfeeding experience is building or being a part of a support system. Express to your family and friends how important breastfeeding is to you and the development of your child. Many black women choose not to breastfeed simply because they don’t know anyone else that breastfeeds or due to a preconceived lack of support amongst friends and family. Your spouse/partner will more than likely be your biggest form of support during this time. Although we understand the bonding experience of breastfeeding it may make your spouse feel disconnected. Offer different forms of support during the feeding process as a way to make your spouse feel included. If pumping is part of your feeding plan have your spouse aid you in preparing bottles and taking over feedings when you’re out or when simply when you feel touched out. If you continue to feel a lack of support, or even if you have the support necessary reach out to local breastfeeding organizations and support groups, even online forums can be helpful.
In addition to support at home and in your community be sure to utilize the information and contacts your doctor gave you! I’m sure there was a ton of it but it can be very beneficial, especially if you are having a difficult time adjusting to breastfeeding. Reach out to your pediatrician, let them know if there any feeding or latching issues during appointments. Also reach out to La Leche League, its free and they make house calls! The resources are there it’s just a matter of accessing the information.
If you are able to, please be sure to take adequate maternity to leave. I know this is a difficult request here in the U.S. where we receive minimal maternity leave and for many women it isn’t paid leave. Nonetheless adequate time at home can establish a great breastfeeding relationship, experience, and supply. Adequate preparation for returning to work also makes a huge difference, whether it be supplementing formula or pumping beforehand. If you qualify for WIC you can most definitely get formula every month, for those that do not there are many opportunities to obtain formula at discounted prices via coupons or on sale. Utilize your maternity leave to stock up! Your maternity leave is also a great time to build up a significant back supply of breast milk for baby as well! All of these things help provide a smooth transition back into the work place, because stress also has a negative impact on your supply and experience. In addition to this make sure to get adequate sleep, drink enough water, and eat well! It’s bonding time and resting time, enjoy your time, trials and tribulations with your new bundle of joy.
I know this seems like a ton but your experience is greatly affected by what you do before you even start breastfeeding, such as the support system at the hospital/birth center and the knowledge you receive! Be sure to do as much research necessary to put your mind at ease, and put together a team of supporters (health care professionals, mom, sisters, friends, spouse). I hope you have an amazing experience like I was able to have, in the next few days I’m going to post a list of products that ultimately changed my breastfeeding experience and helped make it more positive.

#sayhername

Social Justice, Women's Health

I’ve read a million stories and articles about Korryn Gaines, I’ve even watched her videos. No matter what I see, no matter what conflicting evidence I come across… I still sympathize. Why? Because she is me. I see her and understand her fear, her fear for her life and and her children’s lives. A fear of the world we live in, and a fear of the world our children will inherit. My newest fear is, I will die protecting myself and my children and the world will be silent. More importantly out black men will be silent in light of my death. They will riot and protest for other men… But they will be silent for me because I don’t fit the stereotype they have envisioned for black women. Today’s black men want to be Huey Newtons and Malcolm X but they don’t want Angela Davis or Kathleen Cleaver. They want quiet Corettas. 

Not only do black men refuse to speak on this injustice but they want to silence our dialogue! God forbid we mourn our fallen sister or we’ll have wannabe hoteps in the comments telling us why she deserved it, why she was a bad mom, and how crazy she was. I’ve seen more black men protect the image of Miss Teen USA after her use of the N-word, than I’ve seen come to the aid of Korryn. The dialogue they have created is similar to that of “All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” crowds. Comment sections are plagued with compliance and respectability politics. “Well maybe she should have gone willingly”, “maybe she should have been respectful”, even “maybe she shouldn’t have had a registered fire arm in her own home”. I wish you could see my eyes rolling back in my head right now at the sheer ignorance.

What about this, “what if she hadn’t been watching our people die on camera for the last three years?” Black women (women in general) don’t just brush things off typically. So while our brothers and sisters are dying on camera, we are mourning every death. We see our family in every victim, and we still have to go on. We are suffering and making every attempt to go on with a normal life. Every death is personal to us, and the fact that this is the case for us and black men find themselves so disconnected from the death of black women disturbs and disgust us. In reality there have been three black women murdered in the last week and I haven’t heard a peep from the peanut gallery, unless it’s been in an effort to dismiss or derail a status that I have posted. I’ve even seen a few people admit to falling short then proceed to liking and commenting on post condemning Korryn. I actually prefer silence to lies.

I know I seem as though I’m taking this entirely too personal, because I am! I personally mourn every victim, I write about and speak about every victim. Yet my brothers are SILENT! This could easily be me, even your wife or girlfriend. The fear and desperation are real. You don’t understand the desperation of the black woman, or a MOTHER’s desperation. Do you know what it’s like to raise little black children and wonder if they will be the next Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, or Michael Brown? Maybe they won’t die, but then you have to worry about them being body slammed at a pool party, maybe even at school by an over zealous police officer or a vigilante. These are real fears, and you don’t understand what it’s like to walk around with this blanket of fear. We even wonder if you will be killed for simply spending time with your family, but that fear isn’t mutual. Because we can die too, for the same things you can be murdered over. Yet our fear for your life and the need to protect you trump the fear we have for our own life.

So imagine years of trauma, systemic oppression, and excessive police force in your home. That constant fear has turned into reality. Desperate to save your life and your child’s, because why would you give your child to the same people that murdered a little boy? Women and children are not exempt in this, that’s painfully obvious. So we protect each other, and we protect our children. Because I don’t see black men protecting us. We have to protect us, by any means necessary.

The last line brings me to my final point: men quote “Any Means Necessary” but don’t understand the concept. The title alone is pretty literal. How are you a true revolutionary and you hinder women in the movement? We ARE the movement! We are the backbone of this cause, and we are moving this revolution forward. We protest for you, we riot for you, we organize, we raise your children, we love you unconditionally, and you spit on us! We coordinated this movement, women! We will continue to fight for you and you will continue to disrespect us, because you think your ego is bigger than this cause.