Sex & Gender

black men are the most painful foes for black women: the trauma of being hurt by your own

September 27, 2017
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I expect white women to betray our womanhood in favor of race. I expect their misguided prioritization and isolation of gender when we talk about identity or the systems that affect us. When our community uplifts black women through movements like #BlackGirlMagic, white women on Twitter or Tumblr are real quick to insert themselves into a conversation that has nothing to do with them to say “Don’t you mean ALL women”. As if white women need more space to be celebrated for their beauty.  No, celebrations of women must be reductive and only exist in a way that separates race from gender. As if black womanhood isn’t informed by both.

Like I said, I expect this from white woman.

What I can’t seem to get over is the shock of just how often black men make me feel this same way.

Over the last few weeks and months of #KapOrDie, I’ve been silently annoyed by the “or die” bit, in particular. Not #KapOrBust, it’s #KapOrDie” to stress the importance of addressing the issues Kaepernick took a knee for, but also to get the quarterback back into the game on a permanent team. Being adamant about a qualified black man’s right to be treated fairly in the workplace is honorable, of course. It’s the fact that black men aren’t willing to boycott the NFL when it, say, covers up for, supports protects, and deifies NFL players who have been accused of sexual assault or domestic violence.

I asked friends why they’re so ready to hashtag die for a Kaepernick to get his job back than they are about protecting black women when instances like, say Ray Rice knocking out and dragging his bride from an elevator. The response I got?

“Black women didn’t boycott either.”

So, if black women don’t organize their own protection against domestic violence, black men won’t stand up for them at all?

This, of course, only works one way. Black Lives Matter, for example, is a movement created by black femmes in the wake of a wave of police killings of unarmed black men. It’s supported by an inclusive femme-heavy collective of activists across the country and world and for the last three years, these femmes have organized and demonstrated specifically for many of the male victims of police violence.

Black womxn don’t need to be told to help other black people—they just do it. And have done it in every racial civil rights struggle in this country.

When do black men rally around black women? Black men don’t organize to ostracize men who abuse women, physically or verbally.

When a black man went on a radio show and makes jokes about killing transwomen, black men laughed and co-signed, and those who disapproved didn’t do enough. They don’t care that R. Kelly brainwashes young women into cycles of abuse, or that Chris Brown and XXXtentacion beat women. Black men, largely don’t seem to mind the misogynoir and colorism espoused by rappers like Kodak Black.

Black men LARGELY don’t feel the need to fight for anything that affects black women specifically. If our challenges happen to be swept up under the general umbrella of blackness, cool. Anything outside of that is out of their peripheral. And it’s particularly traumatic and even more alienating than anything white people do.

Now, I know there’s a black man out there fixing his fingers to silence or threaten me, but let’s not. If you find yourself rage-reading this, good. You can keep raging out or you can take away some practical advice and marinate on it.

Black men, what we need you to do is to be better allies. To black women and NBWOC. Queer, straight, pan, trans, ace, bi, demi, asexual. To all the black people who are vulnerable to different types of oppression and abuse, do better to listen to our perspectives in the way you’d hope a white person would listen to yours.