Black male neglect of Black women needs to end

Illustration by Catherine Lee

Tagwa Shammet, Opinions Editor

Mammy. Jezebel. Sapphire. Matriarch. These are only a few of the detrimentally incorrect stereotypes against Black women.

Deserving. Adored. Understandable. Giving. These are only a few of the words that truly describe Black women.

We’ve heard so much about the patriarchy and racism Black women have to endure. Our intersectionality is undeniably painful and confusing. When white men disrespect us, it is expected. When white women neglect us, it is expected. But what do we do when Black men mistreat us?

On July 12, iconic female rapper Megan Thee Stallion was shot. The shooting, which took place in Hollywood, resulted in injuries to the rapper’s feet. Stallion is now fine, but for nearly a month, the only talk around the incident came from rumors and gossip. Nothing came from Megan Thee Stallion or her team until Aug. 20. On an Instagram Live, she identified rapper Tory Lanez as her shooter, saying “You shot me.”

Does it not disturb the Black male community to know they are aggressors against their own women? I’m not going to sit here and remind you that you have Black mothers, Black sisters, Black cousins and friends. I shouldn’t have to bring the conversation to your personal life for you to wake up. 

You don’t need to know Megan Thee Stallion personally to be angered and disgusted by Lanez. You don’t need to know every Black girl and woman who has been assaulted to be frustrated. Your fury needs to be directed toward the injustice these Black women face on a constant basis.

Violence against women, regardless of color, is not a new topic of conversation. However, according to a 2017 study completed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are disproportionately assaulted and abused in intimate partner violence.

Megan Thee Stallion is not a rare case. The Violence Policy Center, a non-profit advocacy organization, reported that Black women are twice as likely to be killed than women of other races. Black women are targets of the world — fighting off white men, Black men, white women and everything in between. 

As a Black woman, I am well-aware of the dangers that come with my skin and gender. I am unprotected by any Black man that is not my family or a friend. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by Black men who care about me but that is not always the case. Time and time again, I have witnessed Black men brutalize, hypersexualize and blatantly disrespect Black women. The only men I get catcalled by are Black men. Every time I walk down Broad or Cary streets at night, I am terrified of the same men who should be protecting myself and fellow Black women.

The assault of Black women is an epidemic — but an avoidable one. The deaths of these women could have been avoided if they had been treated with the dignity and appreciation they deserved.

Many of you, specifically men, are reading this and thinking: “That’s sad, but what does that have to do with me?” Well, let me enlighten you. Remember how earlier I said that Black women are more likely to be killed than white women? According to an analysis from the Violence Policy Center, 92% of homicides against women are committed by people the victims know. 

Don’t get me wrong, Black women are far from damsels in distress. They do not need protecting or coddling. They do need a break. We cannot fight the white patriarchy and white feminism, while trying to defend ourselves from men of our community. 

Some of you might be thinking: “Well, I’d never do that to a Black woman.” News flash: knowing your homeboy is assaulting his girlfriend is just as bad as assaulting her yourself. Black men need to learn about something called accountability. If you see something that does not sit right with you, it is because it is simply not right. Hanging around and allowing these acts of violence to continue leaves that blood on your hands, too.

The tenacity of a Black woman is undeniable. She carries herself with an elegance and grace that nobody could ever match. She fights battles on all sides of her. However, everybody needs some support. The lack of such from Black men is disappointing to say the least. But, it’s okay. We’ve survived so far. We’ll make it through.

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