Your Silence Will Not Protect Us

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I saw it when Chris Brown beat Rhianna...

I saw it when Ray Rice beat his now wife...

I saw it when details of Nate Parker’s rape case were released...

I saw it when Evelyn Lozada was assaulted by Chad Johnson...

I saw it when Emily’s teeth were knocked out by rapper Fabulous...

I saw it when Ceelo Green was charged with spiking a woman’s drink...

I saw it when proof of Floyd Mayweather’s abuse came out…

…And Now

R. Kelly and Bill Cosby…

In browsing my timelines on Instagram,Twitter and Facebook, I’m convinced….

You really don’t care about Black Women and Black Girls

Looking at my timeline hurt.  It hurt me to see so many men I know in real life support and defend rapists, pedophiles and misogynists.  I never thought I’d see the day when so many would justify such reprehensible actions.  What’s even worse, it’s been a choir full of the strong and wrong with such reasoning that is rooted in ignorance, stereotypes and fake news. 

…”he was about to buy NBC, that’s too much power for a black man, they had to shut him down somehow…”

The origins of this bogus claim stemmed from an article in the New York Times that was published on October 29, 1992. The article had a sensational headline that read “THE MEDIA BUSINESS; Bill Cosby Trying to Buy NBC from G.E.” But a closer look at the article reveals that this “explosive big claim” was little more than an unsubstantiated rumor, and one that was not likely true. Norman Brokaw, the late agent for Bill Cosby, was the one who “confirmed” the details to the paper, claiming that Cosby was planning to make an offer to G.E. to purchase NBC. But while Cosby’s net worth was a respectable $300 million, NBC’s asking price was $4 billion.  So, to circumvent this problem, according to Vanity Fair, Cosby was willing to enter into what’s called an equity deal for NBC. In a nutshell, Cosby teamed up with Robert “Bobby” Wussler, who has previously served as president of CBS Sports, to offer a deal to NBC with the backing of Goldman Sachs to Brandon Tartikoff, who was the then-president of the network.  There’s one very important element of this deal, however: Cosby himself would not be investing any of his own money in it.  What’s more, Tartikoff declined the offer not once, but twice.  Finally, according to some rumors on the internet, the reason Bill Cosby wasn’t “allowed” to buy NBC is that “black men aren’t allowed to own television networks.” That, however, is immediately debunked by the fact that media mogul Byron Allen — owner of Entertainment Studios — successfully made a deal to purchase The Weather Channel from its former owners, The Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and Comcast/NBCUniversal. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal was well within the billion-dollar range.

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…”all of them are lying, crying rape to get a check…”

Fact: In 2008, "unfounded" reports of rape to the Uniform Crime Report Program (UCR) were at 5.8% (Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Report, 2008). The category of "unfounded" consists of both baseless cases—in which the elements of the crime were never met—and false reports. Law enforcement is trained to discover false reports in their investigation. It is more likely that an actual assault goes unreported. Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes, with 60% still being left unreported (U.S. Department of Justice National Crime Victimization Study, 2005).  Furthermore, less than 5% of completed and attempted rapes of college students are brought to the attention of campus authorities and/or law enforcement (Karjane, H. M., Fisher, B. S., & Cullen, F. T., 2005. Sexual assault on Campus: What colleges and universities are doing about it) which means that over 95% of completed or attempted rapes of college students go unreported

…”But he couldn’t have raped her…she’s ugly…”

Fact: Studies show that the major motive for rape is power, not sex or appearance. Sex is used as a weapon to inflict pain, violence and humiliation. Most rapists appear to have normal personalities with an abnormal tendency to be aggressive and violent. Between 2/3 and 3/4 of sexual assaults are planned in advance.

My timeline was filed with a trifecta of DUMB!  Victim blaming, rape culture and toxic masculinity; the stench of many a black men on my timeline reeked of ignorance, apathy or even humor.  Who knew rape and sexual assault was so funny (sarcasm).  These were the fathers of black girls and young black men. What are you teaching your children about rape and sexual assault?   The past few days have been disheartening and men I once respected, I see differently now.  I didn’t know I had so many rape apologists on my timeline.    I watched black men fall on their swords for Bill Cosby and R. Kelly for days with some of the most ridiculous reasons I’ve ever heard.

 “…this ain’t nothing new.  Men been giving women drugs and wine to get them out of their panties for years”…

..”Another black man being lynched by the system…”

…”But he was acquitted in court…even if it was on a technicality…”

…”What about all Charlie Sheen, Woody Allen, Hugh Hefner, Harvey Weinstein?”

…”Those teenagers were old enough to know better. They wanted it.  They were fass anyway. Blame their parents”…

…”well I just separate the artist from the art. It doesn’t take away their legacy…”

Damn…what does it take to deserve protection from the men in our own communities? Where’s the outrage? The disgust?  I’ve seen more black men jump to the defense of Kim Kardashian and Rachael Dolizal.    It’s unbelievably disheartening as a black woman.  Unless we are related to you (mom, sister, and daughter) or deemed “respectable” in your eyes, you really don’t care.  I actually watched a thread on Facebook, initially posted by a black man stating that black women need and deserve our protection go completely left with some of the most hateful, misogynistic comments. 

You must have your eye on some broad…is it wise to protect the enemy?”

“Name two things black women have to offer besides booty and some other niggas kids…”

“…why do you feel they (black women) are valuable treasures…?”

“Not all black women deserve a man like me”

“Black women need to pick better….it’s their own fault.”

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These are BLACK MEN speaking about BLACK WOMEN and you wonder why so many black women have given up the idea that black men will stand up for them and protect them.  You criticize us for being “independent” when we’ve been forced to handle it all on our own for generations.  Black women are watching the things you say and post online.  I watched black men blame everybody: white people, the system, black women, the feminist movement, and the media for the current legal woes for Bill Cosby and R. Kelly.  Am I the only one who actually read the court documents or the depositions?  I read Bill Cosby’s own words ADMITTING he gave Quaaludes to women without their knowledge or consent in order to have sex with them.  R. Kelly has a sex tape with an underage girl…an actual video tape!!!  I saw the marriage license to an underage Aaliyah.  I read the depositions of witnesses who were underage as they described the payoffs they received by someone who knew the victimization of black girls didn’t matter.

“The bottom line is that R. Kelly and his victims are the perfect storm of people we don’t care about. We protect problematic black men in the black community, and we discard black girls in all communities. Essentially, he is the greatest example of a predator in that he went after the most vulnerable that no one cares about.”- Kenyette Tisha Barnes/Activist #MuteRKelly

 It doesn’t matter if he wasn’t convicted on charges, especially when witnesses were victim shamed and blamed and possibly paid off.    It’s like watching the Rodney King Beating or any number of the videotaped murders of black men by the hands of law enforcement and saying, “Well he must’ve done something to deserve that”.    Good grief…is your hatred of black women so deep?   I saw Rhianna’s battered face, the Ray Rice Video, the R. Kelly interview with Toure where he says, “When you say teenage, how young you talkin”?  I read Ceelo Green's disgusting tweets stating, “People who’ve been raped remember” and “It isn’t rape if the victim is unconscious."  He plead no contest to giving a woman ecstasy and received probation. I read Nate Parker’s court transcripts and taped phone conversations when he says, “I’m not trying to be mean but I feel like you put yourself in that situation”.  He now says, he didn’t understand consent at the time.  A 19 year old man in college doesn’t understand consent and everyone believes it but a 15/16 year old girl gets involved with a famous, rich, grown man and everyone says, “She was old enough to know what she was doing”.  REALLY?

We have a societal expectation that the victim of a major crime… ought to be able to remember with perfect clarity exactly what happened," said Rebecca Campbell, a psychologist at Michigan State University who studies sexual assault. "It is not an expectation that has any scientific merit…For some people, the immediate effects of trauma on the brain don't go away, and they develop PTSD…researchers found not only that PTSD rates declined but narratives of the trauma also "tended to become longer, perhaps reflecting the victims’ increased ability or willingness to engage in the processing of the trauma as anxiety decreases over the course of treatment," the researchers wrote.-Washington Post

In other words, there is no time frame in processing trauma, especially a trauma where your body is violated without your knowledge or consent.  

This stuff isn’t manufactured evidence.  Anyone can use Google and get the facts! This isn’t a system hell bent on destroying the legacies of successful black men.   It’s not the media or the feminist movement either.  Their legacies are forever tarnished as a result of their own choices and actions.  This culture of victim shaming and blaming boggles my mind.  We are asking the wrong questions.

Asking…

What was she wearing?

Why was she there?

Where are her parents?

Was she drinking?

What did you expect to happen?

Instead of…

Do you know what consent means?

Why are you spiking women’s drinks?

What makes you think because a woman is drunk, she can’t still say no?

What grown man is sexually attracted to teenagers?

Why is putting your penis somewhere it wasn’t requested ok?

Let’s get real…asking these questions force men to confront their own misogyny.  These questions force men to face some ugly truths and secrets held in our communities for years.  The acceptance and protection of rapists and pedophiles all while shaming young girls who’s bodies developed early through no fault of their own.  Young girls who grew up feeling like it was their fault “for turning you on”.  Calling them "fass" without calling out the men who cat-called and sexually harassed them most of their lives.  Are you a rapist? Pedophile? Probably not, but there’s a level of misogyny in you that you have to acknowledge.  

…There’s an intersection in almost every hood that teaches young girls lessons about power, racism and sexism.

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This intersection is where some of the guys from the neighborhood would stand around, play music, trash-talk about which artist should hold the title of greatest rapper, and then, suddenly, turn into dangerous predators when young girls walked by. This is where young girls like me learned to shrink into ourselves and remain silent. On this intersection, like so many others in the world, your body and sense of safety were both up for grabs. On a good day, if you and a girlfriend remained silent, walking past the group of “corner dudes,” who were all about 15 years your senior and screaming about what they would do to your 12-year-old body, would be a short-lived experience. On other days, especially if you were walking alone, things would escalate quickly. One of the men would grab your butt and you would pretend you didn’t feel it. Fighting back would make things worse: If you resisted, they would scream at you, curse at you and, in one particular case, attempt to follow you home until you ran inside a store and waited them out. But cross this intersection enough times and such things start to feel normal.-Shanita Hubbard/New York Times

How many of you were one of those guys in the neighborhood?  How many of you know those “corner dudes”?

Why aren’t we worthy of your honor and protection?

I watched women trying their best to validate their experiences, sharing their #MeToo stories on social media.  I watched them try to get black men to see their value and worth on my timelines and it made me sad.  I wept at the ignorance then got angry.  These are the same men we march for, stand up for and fight for time after time without condition, yet, conditions are placed on whether or not we are “worthy” of your protection?   You want to know why black women have some of the toughest exteriors on the planet?  We’ve been surviving for so long on our own, we don’t know how else to be.  Your actions have shown us that if we don’t do it, it won’t get done. That’s why I’m so focused on strengthening the sisterhood. We have to protect ourselves.   Give me an army of Okoye’s instead of Tariq Nasheed's and Umar Johnson’s any day.  I’ll definitely feel safer.

I always knew I’d stand side by side with my people during times of adversity, trial and attack but it’s clear to me that…

Black Women stand alone.