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After the hashtag #BlackPowerIsForBlackMen ripped the band-aid off of the complex (and sometimes contentious) relationship between Black men and women, many wondered what brothas thought about our experiences of feeling abandoned when we need their support.

While some thought #BlackPowerIsForBlackMen was an overreaction and divisive, we were once again reminded that it is sadly the truth. When Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital released the now-pulled “Harriet Tubman Sex Tape,” Black women were rightly outraged, while Simmons chalked up the criticism to hypersensitivity and his “liberal” sense of humor. Simmons–who was outspoken during the Trayvon Martin protests and even called Don Lemon out for his comments about young, Black men—pretty much told us “my bad” for degrading one of the most iconic and revered Black women in history.

In the wake of all of this, Mark Anthony Neal and a group of Black men took it upon themselves to not only apologize for the lack of support from their brethren, but also offer a commitment to be active and outspoken allies for Black women.

In #BlackPowerIsForBlackMen: Letters from Brothers Writing to Live, Duke professor Mark Anthony Neal; writer and Vassar College professor Kiese Laymon; cultural critic and writer Mychal Denzel Smith; PhD candidate and filmmaker Kai M. Green; community advocate Marlon Peterson; writer Hashim Pipkin; LGBTQ advocate and former NFL player Wade Davis, II; and writer and activist Darnell L. Moore pinned responses (and apologies) to some of the women who articulated their concerns in the #BlackPowerIsForBlackMen debate.

Speaking for the collective, Mychal Denzel Smith writes:

When the hashtag #Blackpowerisforblackmen, created by Ebony.com editor Jamilah Lemeiux, took over Twitter, it was a clear sign that we haven’t been doing enough. Thousands of our sisters (and brothers) tweeted for hours about the imbalance in our community. We, black men, tend to pride ourselves on our anti-white racial supremacy activism but often fail to reach out and consider the pain and trauma faced by the women in our lives. Our culture actively denigrates the very existence of black women. We take their love, support, nourishment, and spiritual presence for granted. As a whole, black men have not reciprocated our love and support in a way that affirms the humanity and dignity of black womanhood in the face of white supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, sexual violence, physical and verbal abuse.

#Blackpowerisforblackmen became the call, and as black men dedicated to fighting alongside our sisters, we have taken up the responsibility of answering. As individuals, we recognize where we have fallen short, and as a community we make a promise to participate in deep self-reflection and correction.

This ain’t just an apology; it’s a commitment.

One of the most poignant responses was prompted by Yolo Akili Robinson’s tweet, “#BlackPowerisForBlackMen Becuz I can’t think of ONE national march that black men organized becuz a black woman was raped or killed.”

Kiese Laymon, author of the critically acclaimed new novel Long Division, did his best to respond:

I must have reread your tweet a hundred times today. I understood fully, maybe for the first time, that black men who profess a love for black women can’t have it both ways. The truth is too true and the stakes are too high. We can’t, as I did, call Kendrick’s verse one of the dopest lyrical performances of the year when the song is bubbling with spectacular disses of black women and black femininity, then wonder why we never organized around the killing or rape of a black woman.

We can’t watch and participate in the national obliteration and shaming of Rachel Jeantel and wonder why we never organized around the killing or rape of a black woman. We can’t lie, cheat on, or manipulate black women while convincing black women it’s so hard for us then wonder why we never organized around the killing or rape of a black woman. We can’t literally and figuratively kill and rape black woman for fun, for free, for checks, for claps from our niggas, and wonder why we never organize around the killing or rape of black woman.

No art, no person, no relationship, no sexual fantasy that kills and rapes black women is going to stop black women from being killed, hurt, and raped. If our consumption and creation doesn’t affirm, accept and explore the complicated lives of black women, we can’t be bout that life. No exceptions. Never. Shameful that after all this life, and education, and art creation, your tweet made me know that we really ain’t been bout shit. We really been encouraging black women’s death while leaning on black women for survival. Sorry ain’t enough.

All of the “Letters” are tender, open, apologetic, and raw and leave me longing for more. While I commend these men for stepping up and answering some of the concerns of Black women, I wish they were in the majority, and not merely a small group of progressive Black men.

If we are going to turn this thing around, and begin fostering positive spaces where both Black women and Black men feel safe and protected and supported, it’s going to take many more letters from many more brothas who aren’t afraid to step up and commit to being an ally.

Read all of the “Letters from Brothers Writing to Live” on Neal’s NewBlackMan website here

  • Joyous

    This is all BS. This is nothing but a bunch of lost men and women fight for a seat at the Caucasion man and women’s crooked table in route into their spiritually and emotionally bankrupt beds. I am pro Black men, women and children. Period and point blank. We all go together. If you are about separating Black men, women, and children from each other, you FAIL. I don’t care how much you think you love your own gender. If you hate and despise the opposite gender that you were either conceived or birthed from, you FAIL. No amount of articles, discussions, books, forums, you tube videos dissing Black men or women will EVER turn those of us who are FOR each other. I am so sick of of people out to make a buck and a name for themselves with this back and forth gender mess. Isn’t if even a little odd that none of you lost ones seems to think that a possible solution is to begin talking to Black men and women who are in healthy relationships with each other? Find out what they are doing right. Of course you don’t. We all know why. See the top of this parapraph if you have forgotten. The ultimate solution is to completely and wholesale reject Caucasions and everything they are a part of. Literally spit in their faces when they seek to be with you. You lost ones would probably rather die before you could reject them though. Let me remind you. FREEDOM is when Black American people no longer depend on Caucasions for ANYTHING. How many of you lost ones are willing to discuss that? That is a conversation worth having. Anything else is BS.

  • Marla

    The black raced has had the wool pulled over their eyes by the very white men and women they worship and hold in such high esteem over black people.

    No other race is battling itself like the black race. How can you let your masters trick you and fool you into to hating people, distrusting people, who look like you?

    I notice both black men and women will give a white person a chance be it dating or any other situation before they will another black person. You have been Mind F***ed.

    I have a relative that has been put down by a white man she met online. She has done so much for this white man it is ridiculous. She has been called stupid by this man, he has sent her remedial style books and this woman has a degree. He told her in so many words that she is not his equal and that she is not as smart as he is. He has done other things to her as well. He has called and cursed her out over something he wanted her to do. I saw him try to leave and throw her down and I saw her beg him. I mean if she could have drove to him and got on her Knees and service him, she would have done this. She would have done anything for him not to walk away from her.

    However, she has never had a black man do any of these things to her.

    And it is the same with black men. But your white master is always better than another black person. I noticed black people who have not found another black person. Well, You were not trying to. You purposely looked for white. I laugh as these white women and black men/white men and black women relationships end up in divorce.

    They also lead to other things. I have seen black women say they will never date a black thug but date a white one that wears a suit.

    I have to laugh because when the better relationship aka black with a non black ends, it is just so shocking? Why?

    I have seen educated bl

  • Marla

    Your talking pure bs and I am a black woman. Go ahead and run to these others and abandon this community but guess what they don’t want you.

    The whites don’t want you the asians, indians, natives, hispanic, etc. When you get amongst them, they will let you know. They disrespect you threaten you and will even kill you.

    I noticed in my own experience with family and friends. A good majority of black women are not being hurt or wrong by black men. It is you are like these black sellout men who view white or some other is better and your loser heads stuck up these sellouts butts will not accept a black man because of these sellouts.

    I posted just a minute ago about a white man sh***ing on my relative but it hasn’t happen with a black man…

    I have had a friend killed by a white man who she married. But of course they treat us better. I have had one beaten black and blue but of course they treat us better. I have a few who help them build business and then barely get any of the profits but they put all the time and effort into it.

    Also, their families don’t want anything to do with you either. I know some black women who have gotten spat on by their husbands mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters, cousins, fathers, brothers, etc. They treat you like garbage. I have seen this many times. But of course you are going to have a fairy tale end because they are other. NOT
    Even when you don’t have their family to deal with, these other people of that race are treating you like garbage.

  • http://gravatar.com/virginopolis virginopolis

    I am excited that such conversations are actually being discussed in a positive thought provoking environment. As a black gay male feminist, feeling accepted by black women has been amazing in terms of support, love, and community, because there is no safety, trust, or understanding from black men as a whole. I am blessed to have a blood brother who is my best friend, and I dream of the day that I can stand amongst black men as a whole and be counted a peer. For black men comprise a whole spectrum of people of different religions and sexual orientations. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I am realistic in my desires, but right now I shout ‘YES!’ in regards to such open healing conversations about black men supporting black women. Black men be empowered! Apologizing and commitment are only the first steps. Awareness and knowledge of deep rooted social injustices like misogyny, heterosexism, homophobia, white-normativity, and sexual violence is the blessing at the end of the tunnel. I love it, and I can’t wait for it to spread like fire.

  • DLB

    As @alchemist stated @9Boots just spoke undiluted truth. This is not a rant, but the TRUTH. It’s funny for those black men that don’t want to hear the truth always resort to name calling & deflecting the TRUTH. In TRUTH, both Black women & men should be working together, but in reality it won’t happen unless the people want it to happen. Black women, if Black men here in America don’t want to support you, then receive your support elsewhere, that includes working with Blacks from other parts of the world, i.e. Caribbean, Europe, Africa, etc.

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