“Why do Black men refuse to implicate other Black men in their wrongdoings?”
This is a question I asked my male peers– lovers, friends, family members– countless times. The answer remained elusive, shrouded in a diaphanous film of deceit. No man would ever tell me, but I like many Black women figured it out myself.
The truth: Because too many Black men do not care about Black women’s struggle.
Everyday, Black women are awakening to this truth. A truth that wavers in the wind written on parchment above highways.
“Dear Black Men [Cisgender and Straight]” it reads,
“While you are busy NOT fighting for us, remember that you’re killing us too.”
A group of Black women put the sign on display and wrote a post about it in a Facebook post that further explained their motives:
“This is just the beginning. This will no longer be a conversation we “keep in the house” because you can’t be trusted to hear us, protect us, humanize us, or love us. We’re dedicated to airing out all of our intra-community violence laundry until shit changes. Fuck white people hearing our problems, this isn’t about their voyeurism! This about our lives and our safety!
We ain’t fighting for y’all no more until you stop killing us and until you start centering the violence, trauma, and pain we suffer by anti-black misogynistic violence. This is the new Black future.”
Who, if not Black men–our fathers, uncles, brothers, neighbors– will protect us from male abuse and violence? No one. I know because I am a Black woman who was the victim of and witness to antiblack misogynistic abuse and violence for too long. And I, like the brave women who hung that sign, will be silenced no more.
So I must ask:
Father, where were you when the men in the streets harassed me, asked to “school me”, commented on body, publicly played with themselves for me to see, called me a “bitch!” for not responding to their advances, pressured me to have sex or touched me inappropriately without permission?
Where were you when I couldn’t sleep at night, kept awake by the fear of knowing that mom was out working all night at the hospital, while your three children remained at home with no supervision?
Where were you when I needed money to pay for my last semester at college and was luckily bailed out by a Jewish woman who only knew my statistics: Black, woman, 3.8 GPA.
Where were you for the birthdays? Recitals? Milestones? First dates? Graduations?
I know that you were not with me. But why, precisely, can I still not hold you accountable for that fact? Why, still, can you not be implicated in your wrongdoings? In your failures as a father? Why have none of the men in your life ever forced you to look at your own reflection?
Matter of fact, society has rewarded you with money, cars, homes and employment for your aggressive, selfish and toxic “masculinity”. The kind of masculinity that could negotiate more money from a client and, in the same breath, send your daughtering tumbling down a flight of stairs. The kind of masculinity that would make all other men envious of your philandering ways that force you to objectify and use women.
You left me vulnerable to the world, to every attack. And yet, by other Black men, by society. You have been rewarded. Not implicated.
How can I feign belief in an omnipotent morality when your masculinity allowed you to live beyond reproach? How can I believe that you love me when you can hurt me or idly stand by and watch me wither under the weight of sexism and misogyny?
Yes, I got daddy issues, alright. It is likely that the three quarters of Black children got daddy issues, as well.
Daddy don’t kill mommy, issues. Though Black women only make up 8% of the population, 22% of homicides that result from domestic violence happen to black women.
Daddy can’t stop me from being sexually abused, issues. More than half of black girls are sexually abused by black men by the age of 18.
Daddy don’t get caught up in the street life and end up in jail, issues. When black women are abused or exploited, it’s about accountability, right? When are Black men going to be held accountable for their role in becoming the highest incarcerated population in the United States of America.
Daddy, don’t kill or be killed, issues. The murder rate for Black people is four times the national average, with men being the vast majority of the perpetrators of such crimes.
The “daddy” issues of the Black community are many. And far too frequently Black women and children are forced into silence to protect Black advancement or empowerment. Because racism says Black men are deadbeats, we can’t address the black men who are deadbeats? Because racism says Black men are violent, thugs we can’t address Black men who are violent?
Who are we empowering or advancing, then? Most certainly not Black women and children who are continuously victimized.
Because according to some of the men we are “protecting”, rape victims should have not worn that skirt or that maybe she “was asking for it”. Street harassment is harmless. Hip-hop is not misogynistic, many of its words and messages demeaning and degrading to Black women. Black women are too strong and independent, and only care for the government for support and not their men. Black women should be more submissive or face death or abuse. Black women do not need access to adequate reproductive health care from organizations like Planned Parenthood because of myths. Because according to these men, Black women do not need feminism or womanism or a movement of their own. To have their own, specific notions, needs or agendas. We are supposed to be helpmates of the black man, even to our own detriment.
Let it be known that I will support and love, no man, who has no interest in my well-being or advancement. Who does not hear my pleas for protection and acknowledge them as a call to action.
Like the women who courageous hung that sign for the world to see, I will support and love no Black man who does not support and love Black women.