A few months ago I wrote an article entitled “Who Has Our Backs?” inspired by the controversy surrounding the forced resignation of Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture, Shirley Sherrod, due to a conservative blogger taking snippets of a lecture given by Mrs. Sherrod out of context and attempting to portray her as racist. This was followed by immediate controversy in the media and many Black organizations and leaders prematurely distancing themselves from Mrs. Sherrod before the facts were on the table. So it raised a question that Black women have been pondering for quite some time: who is there to defend us when we are treated unjustly, disrespected, abused, etc.?

A recent video of a fight between two young Black women and a White woman on a New York subway train has raised this question once again. While it’s not clear what exactly started the exchange of words, once the White woman referred to the two young women as “pigs” and “idiots” and stated “What kind of animals eat on the train?” a confrontation commenced and lead to a physical altercation. What is interesting about the video is that the one Black man who got involved in breaking the fight up, jumped in front of the White woman as if to shield and protect her. He then proceeded to chide the young girls on how they needed to “chill.” However, the White woman who was an adult and was equally, if not more, responsible for fueling the incident, was not addressed for her role in provoking the situation. She sat back in her seat peacefully as the girls were looked at as troublemakers. Other Black men on the train seemed to want nothing to do with the situation, unless you consider the indifferent camera man we can thank for the video.

What does this say?

The feeling that Black women have to fend for themselves is very real. Just a quick search and hundreds of forums and articles on the very subject come up. Our storied past as a people in this country is often written off, and in general, many people don’t want to discuss the struggles, injustices and social degradation that we have faced. However we cannot overlook the affects of such treatment because the past continues to affect the present. That is why seeing a Black man jump up to defend a White woman so quickly can be upsetting. It brings to mind the hundreds of years Black women were sexually abused, degraded and disrespected, with no one there to protect her; while White women were placed on a pedestal. Or when it was a death-sentence for a Black man to even glance at a White woman, yet fair-game to rape or assault a Black woman. In order to survive, many Black men felt they had to ‘go along to get along,’ or suffer the consequences of stepping out of line. And so now, what some have termed ‘Black Male Passivity’ can be seen as the result of these social constructed systems that have emasculated and weakened many of our men in various ways. In addition, the idea of the strong, aggressive, or highly-sexual Black women has been perpetuated so much, that even some of our own people have feed into this stereotype; which I believe has left Black men in particular, less sensitive to Black women.

Some may ask, why do we even need to be protected and defended as Black women? In my opinion, the respect and protection of women should be a natural practice within society, no matter one’s culture or race. Although we have strength as women, it is honorable for a man to be sensitive to a woman and aid in her defense when need be. To me this is part of manhood. This may be why so many of us judge men based on how they treat their mothers. And while there has been a breakdown overall in the treatment and respect of women in society, Black women have felt the sting of this even harder due to the traumatic, psychological damage slavery and racial oppression has put on our people.

For example, the current hyper-masculine image being promoted as “cool” in popular culture is particularly influential on young Black men. Yet, the same image of “coolness” portrayed by entertainers includes the degradation of Black women through sexual exploitation and disrespectful lyrics. So would you see the value in women if you’re constantly disrespecting them? I cannot see a man that refers to Black women as “B—hes” and “Hoes” on a regular, being a stand-up guy in any case. Yet this is what men today are bombarded with, a socially accepted and encouraged disrespect of Black women. This is not only played out in music and entertainment, but in politics and in the media as well.

As women, each of us may not have had a father, an uncle, older brother or male figure in our lives there to take up for us, protect us or to make us feel secure. But that does not remove the ideal image many of us hold on to of a man being the foremost protector and defender. Yet, unfortunately this image is not always reflected socially. And even if you’re a woman who does not agree with the idea that women need to be defended/protected by men, despite your position on male-female roles, the bottom line is when someone has been wronged, those who stand for justice should be there to defend them. Whether it is a situation involving a Black woman, Asian woman, Latina, etc.

Yet this is not always the case when it comes to Black women, so what should be done? As Black men, I say question whether you hold Black women in the same regard as other women. Do you have the same amount of respect for your sisters as you have for other women? And if not, ask yourself why? Change starts from within. And as Black women we must demand respect and carry ourselves with dignity. As we all reflect individually, we can do our part to change the attitudes and the double-standards that continue to leave sisters out on a limb.

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  • “You said, “Do you deny the fact that, regardless of ur stance on the issue, the majority of black women do have an issue with black men dating outside the race – for whatever reason?”

    I don’t know the majority of black women and you don’t either so how is possible to speak for THEM??”

    OMFG – and then women wonder why the conversations are circular.

    Ok I can see ur going to play the typical – “I DON’T KNOW THOSE BLACK WOMEN” game – moving on

    “but a lot of black women–in so many words–are TIRED of black men. ”

    I don’t dispute that black women are tired of black men – problem is the men they are tired of are the men they love to date 9 times out of 10 weren’t worth a damn to begin with. Then when attackin the origins of these men not doing what they are supposed to black women dodge and avoid again ignoring who is raising these men.

    Then u say this:

    “So those black women probably feel that black men dating out is probably like a burden being lifted off their shoulders. I’m being completely honest when I say that.”

    Hate to hit you over the head – but the PROBLEM black men aren’t the ones dating and marrying out – it’s some of ur best.

    Just like I have an issue with fat black women – however the black women who marry white men are rarely if ever FAT.

    Black women keep trying to lump all black men together and it doesn’t work because they say things that aren’t even based in reality.

    They point to EDUCATED BLACK MEN BEING WITH WHITE WOMEN.

    Then point to all the problems that RAY RAY and POOKIE ARE CAUSING being in Jail or dead beats – then when talking about black men HOPPIN THE FENCE BLACK WOMEN SAY – “WE DIDN’T WANT THEM ANYWAY!?”

    Didn’t want who? – THE WELL EDUCATED ESTABLISHED BLACK MEN – OR THE RAY RAYS’ – BECAUSE THE RAY RAYS’ AIN’T HOPPIN LIKE THAT.

    This is why we can never get to the root of anything because black women just say things just to say them without even thinkin about the context in which they say them and you are clearly demonstrating that right now.

    Movin on…
    “There is also a third reason: There are about 2 million MORE black women than black men. The shortage is REAL, but again I don’t honestly know too many black women who are sweating black men like that–God honest truth.”

    Do you know how many more white women there are than white men, asian women, hispanic women, etc etc. There are more women on this planet than there are MEN period – BUT again the media loves to make it sound like its such an epidemic for black women even though it occurs naturally, but I will concede to the point that for the black community these numbers are impacted by additional reasons that solely affect the black community.

    However there are more white women than white men on this planet – how come I don’t hear white media saying these white women should hop the fence?

    Have you even looked at the infant mortality rate for boys vs girls. SMH ignorance.

    If that’s what a black woman has to do to find a man – U won’t hear me say anything – but the problems for black women will continue because for MOST – other races of men are NOT AN OPTION – so they need to look to what’s really going on inside their own communities and households. But my Goodness – if its sniff too much up black women’s tree – THEY DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT EVEN IF IT IS THE TRUTH.

    Which is y they will continue to suffer.

  • “I never said black women don’t have issues.

    A lot of black women do–however, those aren’t MY issues so why would I take responsibility for them or the words that come out of the mouths of those women.”

    This is called spiderman complex Justsayin:

    Black women are notorious for it –

    In spider man when spiderman first got his powers – he could have stopped a robber – he didn’t.

    The robber then hijacked a car and shot uncle ben.

    At the time when spiderman could have done something he said – “NOT MY PROBLEM”

    Well uncle ben died because of his inaction.

    Black women like you – say NOT MY PROBLEM

    Until you are confronted with THOSE black women ruining ur reputation – u can say well I’m not like that all you want. But those women screw it up for u.

    Even with ur notion of white men – Do u know how most white men view black women? u think when most white men think of a black woman – they think Kerry Washington, or Sana Lathan – HELL NO!

    They think I LOVE NEW YORK! or MONIQUE

    Those are the images that are out there. Now you can say not my problem all you want but eventually – some how someway that ish is going to come back and haunt you or haunt ur children or the next generation. Which has been going on for generations now.

    Every negative stereotype that you have people say and think about black women you can thank those women who make it their job to go out here and BE THAT STEREOTYPE AND NOT HAVING ANYONE EVER CHECK THEM OR ADDRESS THEM – AND THESE WOMEN ARE THE LOUDEST AND PUT ON THE BIGGEST SHOW FOR THE WORLD TO SEE.

    Then you end up coming up on websites like this – mad and frustrated at what people have to say about what they think about BW overall.

    SPIDERMAN COMPLEX.

    • Dorsey

      Oh and Sargewp?

      You’re may wanna start taking screenshots and caches of what everybody has written here including yourself. I knnnnooow how the moderators get tomorrow. You’ll be erased shortly and they only they left will be nonsensical responses to you which new people will never understand.
      This is usu. followed by a group masturbatory session where your detractors are joined by lurkers for a collective blood curdling howl at the moon before a broom-flying excursion. Back your cache up. Trust.

      Sad.

  • KJ

    how about being married first? black women of this era can’t get a man to marry them before they start breeding all over the place. If black men are so f—d up then the number of black children being born should have declined and this shouldn’t even be an issue. This report didn’t mention that only 48 percent of black babies ever get conceived. They pick the lowest of the low then complain about it. it’s like they just tolerate black men because they can’t really get love anywhere else. THEREFORE, black women make it a POINT to make any black man that comes in their vicinity MISERABLE. Other black men know what I’m talking about. When u deal with a stranger black woman, it’s constant ATTITUDE everywhere u go. the grocery store, at school, on the street, any costumer service job where there’s a black woman. black women make it a POINT how they really feel about black men. Black women LOVE to project their insecurities on black men, because the greater society doesn’t find them desirable. But that’s our fault or the “white media” as they put it. Even though white men only put black women on tv that exhibit MAMMY characteristics. white males constantly put black women down yet they never call white males on it. They worship them like white jesus. I guess pain is love. People are only loyal as their options. However black women have no options. If they really did they would get off the black man aint shit train and not deal with us all together. Other men see black women, how they are. it’s no secret. Black women have been complaining about black men since I was a child in the 90’s. Yet in 2011 it’s the same damn issue with them. Black men don’t want to marry them. black women are only good for one thing…you know what I mean. BECUASE, black women of this generation aint Sh!tT. PS don’t trust a black woman under 50 years old. that’s my motto.

  • Demita C.

    I have no idea why these so-called “men” come to a BLACK WOMEN’S online magazine to spout their diseased, pathetic bile about BLACK WOMEN! We did not request your presence. Since you hate us so much, WHY IN THE HE!! ARE YOU HERE? This is OUR forum & unless you are kindly & respectfully responding as a guest, GO AWAY!!!

    You all (bob, swp, kj) are the definition of insanity…you hate us yet follow us everywhere & insist on trying to win our attention. I’m flattered, I guess. Unfortunately, there’s no home for you here-get your own blog & hate away, you stalking “men”. Your mothers are so disgraced.

    By the way, hate never does anything but hurt the sender/afflicter. Decency & respect are common amongst us humans and if you have any sense or have lived at all, you’ll see how beautiful people are. Anywho, I get the feeling I’m only wasting my breath casting pearls to swine. Just leave us alone…we’re not bothering you nor are addressig you.

    LEAVE US ALONE!!!

  • Demita C.

    Since we’re so bad, leave us alone & don’t come onto a BLACK WOMEN’S online magazine. You don’t see KKK members, do you?

    Take your hateful, pathetic bile elsewhere. You (bob, swp, kj) are the definition of insanity…I hate you (B”M” to BW) but will follow you (BW) everywhere you congregate & torture you with my (B”M”) need to be heard & acknowledged by you (BW). wow. My father would be so ashamed of what you “people” represent for the next generation. A bunch of grown mean boys who hate & stalk BLACK WOMEN. Your mothers will be proud.

    Ladies, ignore/tune out these sad fools please & let’s get back to the topics at hand. They will NOT force us out of our own place (this mag) that we created & rightfully own. Please sensor and block; fix this careless moderation & non-filtering of abuse against your faithful BLACK WOMEN, your readership target, & include a “flag” or “abuse” option for each comment. Thank you.