Alexia Holloway, Contributing Writer
Since the days of slavery, black men have been punished for standing up for black women. If a male slave stood up for a female slave, he could be beaten or killed. If a slavemaster took a male slave’s wife to rape, he could not protect her or he would be severely punished.
Over time, black men have been conditioned to withhold their protection from black women. This is a complete contradiction to the white woman’s “damsel in distress” archetype — stemmed by the release of the 1915 film “The Birth of a Nation.” Because of this, black men have neglected to protect black women in an effort to protect white women.
Recently, YesJulz, a white female online personality, has made a name for herself with her racially-charged antics, such as an offbeat freestyle that implied black women did not like her because of her large synthetic butt. Her comments have been endorsed by black men including LeBron James and Soulja Boy.
After YesJulz’s appearance on the “Easily Offended” podcast, she and battle rapper, Murda Mook, have caught a large amount of internet hate. On the podcast, she attempted to explain away her antics over the past few years. While she was there, Murda Mook told her that she was allowed to say the N-word. I was appalled when YesJulz accused two widely admired black women — social media strategist Karen Civil and media personality Scottie Beam — of being upset that she was performing at Rolling Loud, “the world’s largest hip-hop festival.” Murda Mook said nothing.
Black women are able to defend themselves. Nevertheless, there have been recent cases in which black women are physically brutalized while black men just sat around. A young black woman was knocked unconscious by a black man in Miami. Instead of helping her, black men ran to put a camera in her face and laugh at her. An elderly black woman was kicked in the face by a young black man on the subway last week. Black men continued to record the incident instead of defending her. A video was released showing a black woman being viciously attacked by a white man outside of bar. The black man recording the video did not even put the phone down to check on her.
These common examples of average black men failing to protect and defend black women make Murda Mook’s cringeworthy defense of YesJulz possible. His defense of her reflects a disappointing reality in the black community: Black women can be assaulted directly in front of black men and nothing will be done. However, when white women catch heat on the internet for disrespecting black people in general, black men throw their capes on to save them from themselves.
Daniel Caesar came out the day after YesJulz spoke on the podcast and chastised black people for criticizing her. He questioned the ridicule she was receiving and attempted to reprimand black people by rhetorically asking, “Why is it that we’re allowed to be disrespectful and rude to everybody else and when anybody returns any type of energy to us?”
This same attitude was not reciprocated for black female comedian, JessHilarious. After saying she felt “threatened” because Sikh men were on the same plane as her, the internet justifiably tore her apart. While I do believe Jess deserves the criticism she has been getting, I have not seen black men run to defend her or protect her. Jess offended another community to the extent that YesJulz offended the black community. But black men are not coming to Jess’ defense the way they are with Julz, despite Jess being part of their own community.
Perhaps the historical framing of white women as docile and weak versus black women as strong and overpowering drives black men to turn a blind eye when white women disrespect black culture and black women.
Georgetown University released a study in 2018 that examined the lack of protection that black girls experience in childhood. “Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood” explains how from childhood, black girls are seen as needing less nurture and protection compared to white girls. This can lead to the adultification of young black girls, who are subsequently given harsher disciplinary consequences in school and the criminal justice system compared to white girls.
“The most unprotected woman in America is the black woman.” As a black woman, this Malcolm X quote resonates with me in such a sobering way. Being a black woman means fighting a constant societal battle. Between white supremacy and sexism, black women only have each other.
White supremacy is often cited as a factor that prevents black people from progressing. Yet, white supremacy would have no foothold in the community if black men did not encourage it. Black men who refuse to defend and support black women allow white supremacy to fester and prevail in the community by giving it exactly what it thrives off of: division. The first step to building a stronger black society is black men rebelling against white supremacy and standing up for the black women who constantly fight for them.