Sexual Deviance In the Black Community

Social Justice

 

One in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime; this statistic heightens if you are a woman of color or college student. Sexual assault also comes as an occupational hazard if you are a member of the armed forces. Being a woman of color myself as well as a college student and veteran the deviance sexual offending hits particularly close to home. Sexual assault comes in various forms but the definition itself includes a wide range of victimizations involving attacks in which unwanted sexual contact occurs between the victim and the offender.  The FBI broadly defines sex offences as acts against “chastity, decency, morals, and the like” Victimization may include sodomy, sexual assault with an object, fondling, molestation and indecent liberties, and incest.

With all of this information sometimes it’s hard to decipher the connection between race and sexual assault. But there is obviously a connection, why do communities of color more particularly black communities have higher rates of sexual assault? In this paper I want to discuss the correlation between race and the rate of sexual assault, more particularly African American women and sexual assault. Thirty percent of African American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime at least once. Discussing sexual assault in African American homes is typically very taboo and it often times goes swept under the rug. Why does this happen and what is the true connection between to the two? Could it possibly be rooted in colonization and systemic oppression? I believe that this trend truly does go back that far and it has affected how we view one another as well as the hyper sexualization of black bodies. Sexual assault is most definitely a problem in all communities but it affects our community in a different very significant way. Due to this unwritten code of silence statistically black women report sexual assault at significantly lower rates than white women. The highest rates of rape and sexual assault are reported by Black women (1.9 per 1000).

Beginning with the enslavement of Africans, black women were stripped of their bodily autonomy. Rape was a common part of plantation life, so much so that it significantly affects how we are viewed today as well as the stereotypes in place about black people. Black women and men alike are stereotyped as sex crazed and promiscuous. Black women were routinely raped by slave masters because they were “innately promiscuous” and they were considered property. Because they were considered property, legally they were not protected by the law. Not only were women raped but they were later victims of retaliation from disgruntled wives. Beginning a long line victim blaming teaching future daughters that sexual assault is part of life; if you try to do anything about it you will be further punished.

Even after the end of slavery sexual assault was used as a means of intimidations by white supremacist. This often went unreported because black women felt as though no one would believe them or nothing would be done about it because the judicial system was made up of white men. Black women faced public assault and threats of rape by the white community and private assaults within our own communities. Black women also faced abuse within our community as well but neglected to report it in an effort to preserve black families. Black women are a marginalized group within an already marginalized disenfranchised group; they face abuse based on gender and race. The term for this is misogynoir, Misogynoir is misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles in bias. It was coined by queer Black feminist Moya Bailey, who created the term to address misogyny directed toward black women in American visual and popular culture. Although this is a relatively new term it still fits this particular moment in history appropriately.

Black feminist writers in the 1970’s and 1980 have uncovered rape, molestation, and pedophilia in the black community. Both authors Alice Walker (The Color Purple) and Toni Morrison (The Bluest Eye) wrote novels showcasing this sinister side of the black community. Both novels were criticized harshly for presenting black men in a negative light, which leads to another unhealthy trend in the black community “keeping our business in the house”. The black community is adamant about policing each other up harshly and keeping our business, our business. This is why we neglect to seek help when it’s necessary, even in instances of sexual assault. Many black men had issues with the central character Celie in “The Color Purple” who was raped repeatedly by her step father; they believed the author was essentially airing the dirty laundry of the community.

Sexual Assault within our community even made its way to the forefront of pop culture when starts like Oprah and Tisha Campbell came forward about their own assaults. Even singer Aaliyah was part of an obviously inappropriate relationship with singer R.Kelly who was later exposed in a sex tape having relations with a minor. Later several other young ladies came forward with similar stories, yet the black community had trouble condemning him and instead condemned the young ladies instead. Even most recently several came forward with rape allegations against Bill Cosby, the black community gathered behind him in droves. Before the release of Nate Parkers “Birth of a Nation” a college rape allegation came out in a failed effort for his public relations team to get ahead of it. Again the black community was sure to support him.

Any time a black man is accused of sexual assault the black community deems this an effort to bring a successful black man down, or calls it a distraction. Rape is never a distraction; anywhere between six to eight percent of rape allegations are false. This is an extremely minute number when you consider very few women even come forward to report a rape, even fewer do so within the black community making this number even smaller. For every black woman that comes forward to report sexual assault at least fifteen don’t report it. False accusations are so far and few between that it should never be a question of whether or not a woman is being truthful or not. Accusation of a false report should never be an option especially within our community, especially when thirty percent of black women are sexually assaulted. It’s hard for society to view black women as victims because they hypersexualize our bodies from a young age and use “the fast girl” rhetoric against us in an effort to justify why you deserve whatever happens to you. From the beginning of time black women were forced to be strong therefore being viewed as tough and harsh, meaning black women could never truly be victims of sexual assault.

I understand that “sexual assault” within a community covers a very broad category of offenses. In my research I stumbled across rape, molestation, and pedophilia very often. Rape is defined as the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly against her will. An example of this would be Celie’s experiences in the color purple although both of these other categories apply to her experience as well. Molestation is defined as to touch someone in a sexual or improper way. Pedophilia is defined as intense and recurrent sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving some form of sexual activity with a prebuscent child. Child molestation and sexual abuse may include, but are not limited to, the definition of pedophilia.

Rape and sexual assault victimization is concentrated among the young. The highest rates are among persons between ages 16 and 24, followed by 12 to 15 years old. After the age 25, rape and sexual assault rates drop sharply. The American Medical Association recommends that the definition of the sexual abuse of children includes “exploitation of a child for gratification or profit of an adult”. Pedophilia, child molestation and child sexual abuse may take a variety of forms, ranging from exhibition, fondling, sexual intercourse, or use of a child in pornographic material. Offenders are typically defined by their ability to manipulate, persuade, and utilize friendship to sexually assault children. Offenders typically groom their victims rather than using force (children and parents alike). Grooming refers to attempts to manipulate or coerce someone into performing sexual acts for a proposed reward. Offenders typically try to gain the trust of both parents and child to get what they want. Victims oftentimes know their assailant, in turn by grooming parents and guardians this gives them the advantage of being alone with the victim. Sexual offenders and their victims are likely to have had prior relationship, either as family members or acquaintances. The sexual victimizations of children and adolescents are rarely carried out by strangers. Overall, 95% of sexual assaults of persons 17 years of age or younger are committed by either a family member (35%) or an acquaintance (60%). As children age, those who sexually assault them are less likely to be family members and more likely to be acquaintances. As children age, those who sexually assault them are less likely to be family members and more likely to be acquaintances. Younger children are most likely to be sexually assaulted in a residence, whereas older children are more likely to be victimized outside a home. Almost 9 out of 10 victims under the age of 6 and 3 of 4 of victims between 6 and 11 are sexually assaulted within the residence. Half of the sexual assaults of victims between 15 and 17 years old occur in places other than a residence.

The correlation between sexual assault and black communities has strong historical ties. Predominantly the hyper sexualization of black bodies beginning with slavery and colonization, in addition to deeply engrained loss of bodily autonomy. 400 years ago we lost the rights to our own bodies and were brainwashed into believing that our peers are extremely sexual and promiscuous beings by nature. This alone opens the door to a dangerous rhetoric of victim blaming which removes the personalization of victims and justifies the assault that they have endured. From a young age black girls and their bodies are demonized and they are called “fast”, if and when they suffer at the hands of abuse many men and women will justify their assault. This is primarily due to years of brainwashing as well as an effort for black women to preserve black families and keep outsiders out of their business by reporting the assault. Because as stated above, oftentimes (a majority of the time) the offender is someone we know. Therefore by reporting the assault they would be breaking up the archetype of “the black family’. In an effort to protect black men or protect an image, we as a community have failed at protecting our children primarily. Correcting this toxic cycle takes generations worth of healing, and exposing the abuse right now. We have to stop letting our male counter parts silence us when we discuss our experiences, and stop passing on this “keeping our business at home” rhetoric.

 

 

Works Cited Page

  1. African-American Community. (n.d.). Retrieved May 08, 2017, from http://www.wcsap.org/african-american-community
  2. Humphrey, J. A., & Schmalleger, F. (2012). Deviant behavior. Sudbury: Jones and Bartlett Learning.
  3. (2014, September 08). Sexual Abuse And The Code Of Silence In The Black Community. Retrieved May 08, 2017, from http://www.rolereboot.org/culture-and-politics/details/2014-09-sexual-abuse-code-silence-black-community/
  4. Sexual Violence in the Lives of African American Women: Risk, Response, and Resilience. (n.d.). Retrieved May 08, 2017, from http://vawnet.org/material/sexual-violence-lives-african-american-women-risk-response-and-resilience

 

 

Saving Our Sons

Social Justice, Uncategorized

Part of my daily routine consist of waking up and checking my social media accounts and scrolling through a few articles or blogs. So this morning I laid in bed scrolling my Facebook feed when I found myself FUMING! I’m not being dramatic either, my husband literally shifted away from me because my body temperature began to rise. As I was scrolling I landed on a status from a black woman with son’s of her own who stated Jordan Edwards and his friends had gotten what they deserved/earned because of what she read in a poorly written news article claiming they attempted to run over a police officer. Whether they did so or not is neither here nor there because making a mistake (a poor choice) DOES NOT MEAN YOU DESERVE A DEATH SENTENCE.

As a mother it’s hard enough to hear my children suffer for any reason, may it be while getting vaccines or falling down. It literally breaks my heart every time. So imagine being his friend in the car with him that night.

Your friend has been shot, he’s probably choking on blood, in pain, dying, and maybe calling to God or even his own mother. While you listen and watch, there’s nothing you can do for him. I would like to hope that he didn’t have to suffer, although his friends are suffering now and they will be forever changed by this experience.

Part of my calling is to protect women and children, but I have no patience or tolerance for a woman that would speak of children that way. Because he was in fact a child, maybe a child that made a bad choice (which I doubt because we all know the police likes to victim blame in order to paint their own story). We already know that black children are perceived as bigger, more mature, and more violent than they actually are so being black was enough of a weapon for them to be shot at.

As mothers, even as human beings, how can you justify shooting into a car of children? I want my  children to have the luxury of doing normal things, I want them to have the luxury of being children. Instead society is forcing them into adulthood. Calling them grown men and women, and hypersexualizing their bodies. I have to protect these babies before I can ever protect the women victim blaming.

You can’t truly be about this cause when your focus is based on being the correct kind of black person. Stop pandering to white people and their approval, that shit will not save your life.

White approval is not a bullet proof vest.

Rest In Power Jordan.

Demonizing Motherhood

attachment parenting, Social Justice, Women's Health

In the last few weeks/months we’ve seen a plethora of celebrity pregnancy announcements and pregnancy photo shoots. Women like Beyonce, Ciara, Blac Chyna, and Serena. All have been beautiful!!!! Yet I continue to find myself falling down the rabbit hole called “the comment section”. I can hear yall now…. “No…. don’t EVER read the comments!”. I already know this, but since I’ve done it, I may as well vent.

Never in my life have I seen so many folks hate on the miracle that is “giving life”. After noticing this in the comment sections, I began to see it in real life and realizing it applied even to my own life. Black people are quick to tell you not to have any more children no matter your circumstances, even villify you for having more than to, or go so far as to scare you away from the thought of child birth.

So here we are again, black folks policing one another for doing something as normal as being pregnant and giving birth.

Please explain to me, why are we like this?

I found myself guilty of hiding my pregnancy from those close to me and my community, at the risk of gossip and chatter. I didn’t announce that I was pregnant with Jojo until I literally had no choice. I was 30 weeks pregnant and back in my hometown where I knew someone would eventually see me. I tried to get pregnant and we planned this baby, yet I felt shame! We have programmed ourselves to be embarrassed about natural things.

If people like Ciara, Beyonce, Blac Chyna, and Serena are slandered at every turn for getting pregnant (all under various circumstances, not that it should matter anyway), what hope is there for average folks like us? Ciara was ripped to shreds by black men and women alike for her photo shoot with new husband and toddler, Beyonce accused of blasphemy and glorifying what pregnancy is/should be, Blac Chyna was called every name under the sun including a gold digging bitch, and Serena somehow hates herself and got pregnant out wedlock (all in the same sentence).

Someone explain to me why we hate ourselves so much, why do we hate the thought of our sisters bringing life into this world. Why is it so hard to believe that we might equate ourselves to goddesses for being able to sustain another life? We are doing things that are at the very root of who we are and what our bodies are made for and people hate us for it. It’s disgusting to say the very minimum. I can’t say that I’m very surprised either, I’ve expressed my disappointment in black men in previous post… They slander us at every turn and are silent when we need them. Yes, I still see you. Pretend revolutionaries, if you tear down your women… You are tearing down the base of your so-called revolution.

There is a literal criminalization of black mothers in the justice department, if something happens to our children we are directly at fault. Even if its at the hands of another, but God forbid we are pregnant and happy about it… we are heathens for that as well. Having immediate access to videos of our husbands, brothers, sisters, and children gunned down in the streets is a form of reproductive injustice. Black women are literally afraid to have children. Even with this reality, women are attempting to celebrate these moments and OTHER BLACK PEOPLE WANT TO RIP THIS MOMENT FROM THEM!

Stop it, stop contributing to the Jezebel, welfare queen, single mother rhetoric and start celebrating these women. Celebrate normal everyday women along with the celebrities. Stop judging women for doing things that are natural and normal. Don’t you dare comment on how many children a black woman has, don’t ask if they are done, don’t tell your horrific birth stories, don’t do any of it. We are already victims of sexism AND racism, don’t contribute to it. Misogynoir is real, and if you don’t know what it is, look it up.

It’s time to start celebrating our womanhood.

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?           

 

 

#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.

A reflection on police brutality 

Social Justice

As I become increasingly involved in “The Movement”, (through writing, planning and carrying out events, and speaking engagements) I have become bogged down by emotions and it’s made it harder for me to write these days. And it’s hard because I see myself, my family, and friends in these victims. I even took it upon myself to watch the “The President and the People”, but it only made me increasingly angry and upset. Because we continue to ask for support for “Blue Lives Matter” and we want people to go above and beyond to prove that they are not anti police. `But whose proving to us that they aren’t anti black? I see the anti black rhetoric ALL the time. Who is choosing to stand up to their peers and family members at our expense? I’ve heard people say I’m afraid to send my children out because the Black Lives Matter protestors are out creating a ruckus, or they’re afraid of what will happen to their family members who are police officers.
This is my entire life, except I’m not afraid of protestors because I’m out there with them. I’m afraid of police officers, I’m afraid of what will happen to my husband or child, even my sister or mother. I just recently spoke at candle light vigil for the victims of police brutality(organized by UTEP’s Black Student Union which I’m a member of), where we also gave respect to the police officers in Dallas. I wasn’t a big of some of the things we did but when are we ever all on the accord? Nonetheless I spoke about being fearless in the face of adversity, and by that I meant stop encouraging our children to be victims because this is “A MOVEMENT”. I can’t send my sons out into the world ill prepared: this isn’t the 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s I’m not going to tell my sons that they need to hold their heads down and avert their gaze while speaking to a white person or police officer, Or get caught up in respectability politics and compliance. My son shouldn’t have to do more to avoid being shot by police or vigilantes. We have to stop ruining the childhoods of children of color by telling them not to be too black or brown, and not to have pride in who they are. So many people have to have hard conversations with their children at such a young age. My son cant play with toy guns like most little boys because I’m afraid he’ll be shot within seconds of a police encounter, and the community wont protect him they’ll talk about how he looked so much older and menacing(did you know that’s a problem for children in schools too?) than he actually is and how he shouldn’t have had said toy gun in the first place.
Personally I’m done with the apologist rhetoric, my family is done walking out into life afraid. I can’t constantly be plagued with fear because I see my loved ones in these victims, because at this point we are only accepting accountability for these actions. It has become recklessness with no regard for human life. What’s even worse are the people trying to justify the behavior and the deaths, people that I’ve considered friends.
A disturbing statistic that I’ve come across this week after viewing a video of a North Miami behavioral therapist being shot in front of his patient (whom the police later said they were aiming for), Up to half of victims of police brutality are disabled individuals. For me that’s exceedingly terrifying considering my little sister falls into this category, and like many disabled individuals she has an occasional melt down. If my parents were to call the police for help that would put them all in danger! How disturbing is that? Not only that but my best friend works in a group home with disabled individuals and I fear for her as well, because with a heart similar to my own she would do what she could to protect them if she needed to. I shouldn’t have to worry about her life or the life of my parents for simply doing their jobs, much like this Blue Lives Matter theme we have going on. But your employment and job are temporary, my friends and family will be black forever.
Phillando Castille was simply out with his family when he was killed because he had a registered fire arm which he expressed in the video. That could easily be my father or husband, and society would justify that too. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t be bothered by this? I don’t understand how you can call yourself a friend then justify murder of my people? Because you aren’t truly a friend, you still separate my family and I into the “Other” group, a group you cant really identify with. You just keep us around for entertainment.
Everyday we draw a little closer to an age of disconnect with the black community, and people hate it. They don’t understand why we would separate ourselves when we fought so hard for integration and equal opportunity. We still don’t have it, and honestly black people thrived during segregation because we had to be self-sufficient. As we speak black dollars are being withdrawn from major banks and deposited into black owned banks, children are being withdrawn from school and parents are teaching them at home with amazing black home school communities, black people are quitting their 9-5’s and starting their own businesses. This is the turning point a real revolution, as much as you want to overlook it and turn your head it wont stop. The train has already left the station.

Empowerment: Playing Your Part

Social Justice

Empowering and Impacting the Black Community:
         During the release of Beyonce’s unapologetically black visual album Lemonade, I noticed a truly detrimental epidemic. An onslaught of black people who couldn’t give credit in places it was obviously due because they couldn’t get over the “But what have you done for us” complex. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not blinded my beyhive goggles, I’m very obviously a fan but Beyonce’ has made some community contributions she just hasn’t bragged about them. People are so used to every act of charity broadcasted across social media that if it hasn’t been posted on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter then it hasn’t happened. This is not the case, in reality you should be wary of those that do things and make a show of it. You should always question the motives of those people. I could attach a list of charities The Carters contribute to regularly, but you could also do the research. Research is something our generation has also turned a blind eye to. Why are you being subdued by the media into believing she is exploiting black people and feminism? Well for one she has contributed an entire essay to feminism, more specifically gender equality. Then she put together a world tour of only female artist (from production to musicians). But once she narrows her scope to black women and their struggles you have a hard time believing the hype? That’s fine; I digress because my point is… WHO ARE YOU TO ASK WHAT SOMEONE ELSE HAS CONTRIBUTED TO THE BLACK COMMUNITY? What have you yourself contributed? I’m sure you have openly contributed to its exploitation: reposting gorilla memes comparing him to dead black youth, sharing fight videos, endorsing these shows that make us look like animals, asking your local black business owners for discounts? So I ask again, what have you contributed that places you above the acts of others?
         Before you try to deflect by asking me what I have personally done, I’ll start with this message I’m sharing with you. By blogging I’m making you increasingly aware of the injustices you ignore, and more aware of your own problematic behavior. By no means am I perfect, but I am contributing nonetheless. I have also joined the Black Student Union at my current institution; we are making ourselves a larger presence in the community and actively going out to make a difference. As an intern I am seeking out students of color who have fallen through the cracks and catching them, as well as creating opportunities for them to further their education. So again what are you actively doing that places you above others and their contributions?
         There are so many ways that you can contribute to the empowerment of our community, so many organizations you can join, and so many ways you can utilize your personal talents. So lets talk about some of the things you can do, I’ll start small.
1. Social Media- Use your voice! It seems trivial but every time you repost an injustice or draw awareness to a cause you are opening a few more minds. Create an online presence!
2. Join some organizations- find an organization that has values similar to your own, or simply start your own organization. Anyway to get involved.
3. Attend black institutions such as black churches and black colleges.
4. Seek out leadership positions in the community. May it be at work, school, or even within the government. We need representation and adequate leadership everywhere. Be a hand up instead of watching other people pass you up.
5. Go out and vote, encourage other people to vote! Not just in the presidential election but start small and start local. Those are the people that truly affect you and the amount of power our president has.
6. Do community service, this includes neighborhood beautification! It’s not about getting out the hood anymore but making it better. Gentrification is a real thing; it’s also a result of letting our neighborhoods fall apart. So get out there in the community and do your part! Take care of our people; even if you believe you have nothing, you still have enough to give.
7. Educate yourself outside the classroom. Read books, newspapers, and scientific journals! Knowledge is everywhere and it’s harder for you to be taken advantage of when you have the power of knowledge. Stop taking in that trashy television show and all that gossip. What you put in will soon produce fruit.
8. Do business with black owned businesses and stop asking for discounts. While you’re at it stop doing business with people that don’t appreciate your business. If you’re being exploited for them to make a dollar, its safe to say you should keep your money. On that note if these people wont hire you and you are obviously qualified, start your own business. Create a legacy for your children.
9. Stop sending your children where they are not wanted, joining groups where they are the only black children, sending them to schools with no diversity. You think you are helping them but you are further aiding in their brainwashing and making them numb to oppression. I’m not saying send them to bad schools or to pull them out of schools. But as the child of a teacher I know that there are options, and lots of them.
10. Finally, stop bashing other black people for the way in which they choose to empower other black people. You have your method and they have theirs. It’s as simple as that. Your criticism is further separating us during a time when we need to demonstrate unity. Criticism is one thing and accountability is another.
This isn’t me trying to tell you how to live your lives, but holding you accountable. You know how to get involved now, so take part in the revolution. There will always be those who actively take part and those who stand on the sidelines and critique. Even if you just stand idly by you are benefitting from the acts of others.

Raising a young black man…

Poetry, Social Justice

After the reactions in ferguson, mo I noticed a lot of people (primarily those who lack skin pigmentation) commented about how they were afraid to leave there homes or send there children out to play.
Welcome to the life I have to lead for the rest of my life and my sons life. I have to wonder in the back of my mind if today is the day someone will decide they don’t like the color of his skin. Or they have the right to mistreat him or even harm him based on his race.
Why? Because he was born black. Not the white washed, slightly tanned skinned, with pretty eyes and curly hair that people are comfortable with. But deep mahogany skin, bronze skin tinged with a little red and deep dark eyes like his mama. Skin dark and beautiful enough to make you feel inferior and offended.
The color of his skin alone is enough to make people feel like he isn’t worth as much as the next person. And for some extremist it’s enough to make them feel like they are entitled enough to take his life.
Because he was born black, I have to teach my baby he has to work twice as hard as the next person. He has an automatic set back due to white privilege. My child was set up for failure at birth because of the color of his skin and the lack of a father figure (thanks again for setting your child up for success) thankfully he has a strong black mother to educate him and teach him what he needs to know to be successful and explain the harsh realities of the life he will live. As well as a grandfather and my boyfriend who love as much as a father could and more to teach him what he needs to know as a young black man in America.
His history will never be white washed and we will never allow him to live in fear. Because fear is what controls you, he comes from a family warriors. A family built on love not blood, and a family that builds him up to be the best man he can be.
But until he becomes that man and even after he has surpassed my expectations. I will still live in fear of what someone else could do to him because they fear his skin, because they are disgusted by his beauty.
So I’m not sorry and I don’t feel sympathy for privileged individuals who now feel the fear that I feel everyday. Savor the bitter taste in your mouth and remember it every time you snub someone of color, or you toss your money on the counter instead of placing it in someone’s hand, or even insensitively down play racism. Remember that fear because a day will come that the tables will turn. These beautiful black children may one day be your oppressors. Beware what you teach your own children at home, it comes out in school and your racism becomes transparent for everyone to see and you’ll wear it like cloak.
My children and there generation will remember because right now they are living the history of tomorrow. I won’t teach my son equality or passivity. He will learn to stand up and speak on what’s right or wrong. He will assert his brilliance and blind you with his ancestry because he has never learned to belittle himself in the presence of pale skin. Or shrink himself down in the presence of “authority” he is the governor of his own body, his own mind, and his own being.
So live in fear and cower at the thought of there greatness.

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