As Black folks in America, we’ve become good at mobilizing behind a cause, particularly when it deals when fighting racism. At this very moment, , the NAACP in North Carolina and Georgia is waging a fierce battle against voter suppression with the Moral Monday movement, and just recently, the collective outrage of prominent basketball stars and celebrities toward Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling led to his ouster from the league. And when Travyon Martin and Jordan Davis and Oscar Grant and Sean Bell and many others were murdered—by vigilantes and cops alike—the community once again protested and rallied and threatened boycotts until their cases were heard.
But when the issue of the day involves Black women, especially when they’ve been harmed at the hands of Black men, the silence is far more deafening.
Two years ago, just weeks after Trayvon Martin’s murder, Rekia Boyd was killed by a police officer in Chicago. After responding to a nearby disturbance, prosecutors allege Officer Dante Servin fired “blindly” at a man on a cellphone and stuck Boyd in the head. Although Servin was later changed with aggravated assaulted, the shooting was initially ruled justifiable. Boyd’s case continues to receive little attention from those outside of her community, despite the city settling with Boyd’s family for $4.5 million and Servin still awaiting trial.
When 19-year-old Renisha McBride was murdered last year in a Detroit suburb attempting to seek help after a car accident her case initially received a lot of attention. Although the media tried to protect Theodore Wafer’s identity, he was later named and charged with McBride’s murder after community pressure led by activists such as dream hampton. But as the months have worn on, few in the media—even the Black media—have kept up with her case in the same manner in which day-to-day updates were commonplace during the lead-up to prosecution of Trayvon Martin’s killer, Geroge Zimmerman.
These women’s stories, just two of the thousands of Black women murdered each year (most the hands of their current or former partner), have flown largely under the radar. And despite the numbers of Black women who are expected to crew up and march and boycott and protest for murdered or disrespected Black men, Black women’s lives aren’t often given the same concern.
The reaction to DL Hughley’s recent comments about Columbus Short’s estranged wife Tanee McCall-Short is yet another example of just how quickly people turn a blind eye to the concerns of Black women, particularly when a Black man is involved.
While Black leaders rallied against Don Imus for calling the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy headed hoes” (Hughley defended him, by the way), our “leaders” have been (un)surprisingly silent after DL Hughley insinuated that most women who claim to have been abused by their husbands are just “emotional broads” who don’t know how to keep their feelings in check.
After his co-host Jasmine Sanders broached the topic of Short’s marital drama, Hughley told her, “I think that broad shouldn’t be telling all his business if she gone take him to court.”
Hughley went on to call McCall-Short a “thirsty bitch,” a “hoe,” and a “silly broad” several times throughout the segment, and argued: “Columbus is making a ton of money, right? And this woman is obviously used to a lifestyle, right? And she’s going to want to continue that lifestyle, right? Running her mouth is impacting that lifestyle.”
Hughley, who once called Black women the angriest women on earth, concluded “Women always running out the mouth when they shouldn’t,” and that if Short actually threatened to kill his wife, as she claimed, then she shouldn’t have been surprised because women always know what kind of men they’re dealing with.
“When you’re very young, you’re very volatile. I’ve been in situations where the police were called. I don’t believe that every time someone says something in the heat of anger, they actually mean it. Everybody want a thug dude, a passionate dude, until you gotta live with your mother in an undisclosed location. You know what kind of dude you picked. Stop it.”
Hughley’s comments were not only over-the-top and offensive, but they were also potentially harmful as well. Though he may see them as “jokes” (even though he wasn’t joking), his words did little more than normalize violence against women and made getting help an even more hostile proposition.
While Hughley has now issued a non-apology apology (after writer Kirsten West Savali started a petition and women across the web started to speak out), he denies he was excusing domestic abuse despite his mocking tone and his insistence that “broads” are always trying to bring a brotha down.
I guess @ThePBG was right, when she said, “Black men tell Black women we should choose our race over our gender but they choose Patriarchy over Blackness everyday.”
Here’s the thing. Had a White “comedian” or commenter (ehem, Imus) gone in on McCall-Short in a similar manner, calling her a dumb b*tch and insinuating that Black women are just emotional and should expect abuse (from Black men), he would have been instantly admonished and raked over the coals, particularly in this era of “gotcha b*tch” journalism when any racially charged incident is turned into a two-day scandal.
But since Hughley, a Black man, was the offending party, he’s been largely ignored (until today), allowed to remain apart of Tom Joyner’s REACH Media, and has been given a pass by Black men and , painfully, Black women who’ve been on some, “Well, he IS a comedian, what do you expect?” tip.
What I expect is solidarity. What I expect is the same amount of hurt feelings brothas drummed up over Donald Sterling’s decrepit racism applied to DL Hughley’s anti-Black-woman sexism.
What I expect is some common courtesy and love.
But time and time again, when issues affect Black men and racism Black women are expected to done our capes and run to our brothers rescue, but when we need a little help, a little brotherly love, too often we’re on our own.