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An Open Letter From A Black Woman

An Open Letter From A Black Woman

I hurt myself today. I was on Twitter talking about rape culture & this triggering victim blaming post at VSB. And it triggered the hell out of me so I’m just going to say up front that this is coming from that place. See, I said the things I needed to say, but now I have to say something else & it is too long for twitter. And although I am directing this specifically to black men, overall this is something I feel needs to be said to everyone. Black women (like me) are more likely to be victims of domestic violence and sexual assault than almost any other group (the numbers are also incredibly high for NDN women), and we are out here on the front lines every day. Black men expect us to have their backs in battles with institutionalized racism. And mostly we do. But, we’re not seeing a whole lot of return on that investment when it comes to institutionalized racialized misogyny. And that fucking hurts.

Yes, on an individual level some of you are right there in the trenches with us. But some of you? Man look, I know life is hard for everyone of color on some level, but we shouldn’t have to worry about being safe from men in our communities as well as men outside our communities. And yes, men are victimized too. I know that, but I’m a woman and I’m going to speak from my experience in this post. Because here’s the thing, it’s easy to say that women should know better, do better at staying away from bad guys. But, it’s not like they’re wearing a sign around their necks. And often those guys have friends who are decent dudes. So we assume that they are decent too until they show us something different.

Sometimes they show us early enough & lightly enough that we get out of the situation basically unscathed. But sometimes? Sometimes your boy that you know ain’t shit that’s been dogging some broad out? Yeah, he proceeds to fuck that broad up the first time she catches wind of a problem. And instead of jumping bad at him, too many of you start blaming her. That’s a terrible thing to do. And you know it. Because your boy has already told enough jokes, or said enough off shit that you wouldn’t let him near your sister, your baby cousin, or your best friend. So, why is he still your boy?

Real talk, I have some female friends that are messy who don’t do half the shit I see some dudes out here doing, and I keep them away from my guy friends. Because they’re messy & I don’t want anyone I care about to get hurt. If I could I’d warn off some other folks too. But my friends aren’t rapists or abusers. People like that don’t get to stay in my life. Some of you are friends with dudes who are both. Hell, some of you reading this (whether you admit it to yourself or not) are guilty of those behaviors. And while I’m all for redemption or whatever, I really need to know how much shit has to happen to black women at the hands of black men, before y’all start checking each other? What does it take for men of color to really collectively dig into confronting their privilege & misogyny? We know some of you hate us, now we want to know what those of you who don’t hate us are going to do about it?

27 comments to An Open Letter From A Black Woman

  • Ace

    I guess it’s a need to hold onto what little privilege they have. That mixed with the belief that WoC (especially Black women) are made of teflon and don’t require the same sympathy and attention White women would.

    I’ve heard people say that Black women need to be “broken” because they’re too confident and won’t take crap that other groups of women would. Anything to excuse that behavior I guess.

  • True story:

    One Saturday afternoon, my old neighbors were having an argument. The dude was drunk, as usual, and he was yelling his head off at his woman for supposedly hiding his liquor. It was escalating from bad to worse. The woman walked out, but the guy followed behind her – with a bat. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I stepped in and tried to calm him down at the risk of getting my ass clubbed. I stood inbetween him and the woman and tried to calm him down and get the bat away from him. Soon, he dropped his bat and left. I picked it up, and asked the woman if she was okay.

    While I was in the middle of that, I wasn’t scared as I was angry at this guy. I wanted to beat him down if he took it there. I couldn’t stand to see her get yelled at. Soon, the women in the neighborhood came to her aid. I’m glad they did.

    The problem is he argued with her before, but it didn’t get as bad as it did that day. I always stepped in to see if she was okay, and the cops are familiar with this guy as he’s known to drink a lot. Other than that, I honestly didn’t know what else to do but be there for her since the cops seem to care less.

    What suggestions do you have?

  • Thanks for writing this. It is really disturbing to see sexist victim blaming in spaces that are supposed to be safe. I have seen how other men of color (including some from my community) who label themselves “activists,” but refuse to hold themselves accountable for their sexism and misogyny. Instead of taking responsibility, they get defensive and use their activism as a “shield” to get away with their misogyny.

    More men need to speak out and not only confront the sexism and misogyny of other men, but also the sexism we have internalized. Sexism and racism are interconnected, so to fight against racism, but then participate in sexism is to undermine the struggle entirely. Ignoring this connection centers anti-racism on male-experiences and overlooks how women of color experience “institutionalized racialized misogyny,” as you put it.

    Victim blaming is dangerous and there can be no liberation when women are blamed for rape and sexual violence. It is NEVER the victim’s fault. Men have to take real responsibility for unlearning sexist socialization and their complicity in sexism and misogyny. We cannot end oppression while reproducing it within our communities.

  • FireStarter

    Well I feel sorry for any black woman that actually expects black men to collectively have our backs. They have shown through actions and words that will never happen. Therefore, I have chosen to put them on mute whenever they complain about racism or white oppression.

    As far as I’m concerned their problems are not my problem…just like black women’s problems/issues don’t seem to be their problems.

  • brownstocking

    @Brotha Wolf:

    Seriously, just being there is so critical. So helpful. Be there, be supportive, don’t try to solve her problems, just listen. As long as she knows there’s a man(? I shouldn’t assume) who isn’t judging her and being an ally, that can help her a great deal.

  • Jesus take the wheel! *Sigh*

    Ok sister, I see where you’re coming from. But it somewhat confuses me. Here we are once again, black men, being all lumped together along with the one(s)who obviously caused you hurt and pain. Here’s some facts:

    There is no monolithic black male coalition with special privileges. At least not here in America. That’s a myth. Most likely a feminist one.

    If anyone has special privileges in this country it’s black women. That’s right, I said it. Who else among us can live their lives as sloppily as many of you do, having babies you don’t have to pay for (the man does), eat and get big as a house and still find companionship (with a dusty nigga with low self-esteem nonetheless), have low ambitions and can get away with blaming your own laziness on someone else (our favorite scapegoat:black men)? Brothers sure can’t do that. If we live as irresponsible as many of you, we end up in jail or on the streets.

    And what the hell is a black feminist anyway?! Your issues ain’t nothing like the ones white women deal with. Quit biting their style, learn to be feminine again, and maybe you’ll find your missing joy.

    Could it be that more black men aren’t standing up when your rights as ‘women’ aren’t being honored the way you wish, because they’ve watched sisters throw them under the bus for the past 20 years and counting? Hell, y’all even participated in helping white folks dump on the brothers. Now that Mr.Whitefolks has turned his attention on YOU, you expect the brothers you’ve abandoned to rush to your defense? Fat chance! Loyalty begets loyalty. Dessertion begets dessertion. It’s a cold hard world we live in. Get used to it. We have.

    Black men who have themselves together mentally, career wise, financially and emotionally are NOT out and about on some ‘save the black woman’ cause. We have lives to live, and saving people who don’t need saving ain’t even on our collective radar.

    And why is it that black women such as yourself are always so damn angry? Cambodian women were slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands during the 70′s. Yet I never met an angry Cambodian woman. So were Serbian chicks in the 90′s. Again: where is their equivelent of you? If you spent half as much time being productive and upgrading your social skills, maybe that anger of yours would give way to actual joy… Now THERE’S a thought!

    Has it ever occured to your thoughts that maybe YOU are the cause of your own unhappiness? If you’re seeking true power in this world, it begins right there: with the power to take ownership of your life…faults and all. Blaming others for your anger issues and baggage only tends to disempower YOU.

    That’s enough for now. Reading your site was mentally draining. I feel like I just took a trip to the darkside and now I need some fresh air. Good luck with that anger problem of yours…

    • karnythia

      Is there a script that gets handed out so misogynistic black men like you can avoid listening to anything black women have to say? I mean, this shit was textbook & absolutely proved my point. Good job being an example of what not to do.

      • Delux

        I’m mad you made me look at this tired ass, black hebrew israelites charm school reject, dumb ass comment.

      • Insults insults insults. Typical childish response and predictable. The question yet remains: Are you willing to woman up like a big girl and take responsibility for your own life, anger happiness and all? Or do you insist on blaming ‘black male privilege’: whatever the hell that is?

        • karnythia

          If you don’t know how to use Google it’s no wonder you’re so adept at proving my point. Man up and learn something, or take your bullshit back under that rock.

          • What does google have to do with something that’s fictional? I can google Iron Man and get fantasy. I can even see it at the movies. But just because it’s on google doesn’t make it real.

            • karnythia

              Keep telling yourself whatever lies you need to so you can justify being a bag of wind who hates women.

            • Hold on: you’re the angry one…but I’m the hater? I don’t get your logic…

              My handsome face alone should give testament that I was designed to love women. And love them I have…excuse me as I reminisce… Ahhhh…such fond, fond memories… Anyway, back to the topic at hand…

              No hate coming from me sister. More like pity…

    • Delux

      …shouldnt you be too busy macking on Serbian and Cambodian women, living your high life style, and generally being above the lowly negro wenches typing on this site to be commenting here?

    • Delux

      shouldnt you be too busy macking on Serbian and Cambodian women, living your high life style, and generally being above the lowly negro wenches typing on this site to be commenting here?

    • R. F.

      Jesus take the wheel! *Sigh*
      Ok brother, I see where you’re coming from. But it somewhat confuses me. Here we are once again, black women, being all lumped together along with the one(s)who obviously caused you hurt and pain. Here’s some facts:
      There is no monolithic black female coalition with special privileges. At least not here in America. That’s a myth. Most likely a MRA one.
      If anyone has special privileges in this country it’s black men. That’s right, I said it. Who else among us can live their lives as sloppily as many of you do, having babies you don’t have to pay for (y’all niggas too busy skipping child support), eat and get big as a house and still find companionship (with a dusty ass girl with low self-esteem nonetheless because your attitude done beat it out of her), have low ambitions and can get away with blaming your own laziness on someone else (our favorite scapegoat:black women)? Sisters sure can’t do that. If we live as irresponsible as many of you, we end up in jail, dead, or on the streets.
      And what the hell is a black MRA anyway?! Your issues ain’t nothing like the ones white men deal with. Quit biting their style, learn to be decent people again, and maybe you’ll find your missing joy.
      Could it be that more black women aren’t standing up when your rights as ‘men’ aren’t being honored the way you wish, because they’ve watched brothers throw them under the bus for the past 20 years and counting? Hell, y’all even participated in helping white woman dump on the sisters, and then you blame the sisters for that when they tell you to eat a dick. Now that Mrs.Whitefolks has turned her attention on YOU, you expect the sisters you’ve abandoned to rush to your defense and then bitch them out when they don’t? Fat chance! Loyalty begets loyalty. Dessertion begets dessertion. It’s a cold hard world we live in. Get used to it. We have.
      Black women who have themselves together mentally, career wise, financially and emotionally are consistently on and about the ‘save the black man’ cause because we’re actual decent people. Despite the fact that we have lives to live, and saving people who don’t need saving shouldn’t even on our collective radar.
      And why is it that black men such as yourself are always so damn angry? Japanese men were thrown into internment camps, and I’ve never met an angry Japanese man! The Holocaust happened, I’ve never met an angry Jewish man! Again: where is their equivelent of you? If you spent half as much time being productive and upgrading your social skills, maybe that anger of yours would give way to actual joy… Now THERE’S a thought!
      Has it ever occured to your thoughts that maybe YOU are the cause of your own unhappiness? If you’re seeking true power in this world, it begins right there: with the power to take ownership of your life…faults and all. Blaming others for your anger issues and baggage only tends to disempower YOU.
      That’s enough for now. Reading your reply was mentally draining. I feel like I just took a trip to the darkside and now I need some fresh air. Good luck with that anger, and small dick problem of yours…
      stay single forever, booboo

      • Quit dodging the issue sister. When’s the last time you took a good hard look within to find the true source of your anger and frustration? Could it be you’re actually frustrated with yourself…and not black men?

    • cynique

      typical misogynistic black man. always thinking that black women have more privileges than black men because of the stereotypes that are shown in today’s media. please go back and suck the whitey’s pussy since you do not want to even open your patriarchal mind.

      it’s not like a black woman’s voice is erased when it comes to intellectual debates. it’s not like no one reports any black women missing compared to a white girl who was missing 15 years ago. it’s not like black women are incarcerated the most out of all women. it’s not like us black women have to go through sexism, anti-black misogyny, colorism, and racism all at once.

      nope black men truly don’t have more privileges than black women. it’s not like you guys could experience anti-black misogyny or sexism, or that you do not have to deal with quasi scientists saying that black women are the most unattractive people on earth because our features are the total opposite of a white woman’s.

      yuuup you guys are definitely the lowest of the low. not us. definitely not.

      • Sister, quit comparing yourself to white women. Have some class and dignity for goodness sake. The fact that you use their viewpoint as the standard for measuring your own worth shows exactly why you’re a bunch of angry black women!

        And what exactly are these stereotypes in the media you’re referring to? According to ABC, CNN, Essence, Hollywood and a host of other magazines: black women have it going on! Y’all are sooooo successful, you can’t find a brother on your level decent enough to date you. Hollywood caters to you, as evidenced by the plethora of movies geared toward the ‘successful black woman’.

        Funny how you ‘ladies’ throw around your buzz words: misogynistic…patriarchy…Words created by white lesbians and racists who wouldn’t even allow black women intially into their feminist circles. My oh my, it’s amazing how much you envy white women!

        And as for comparing what happens with black women to what happens with whites: that’s an issue you have to take up with your white daddies you seem so intent on gaining acceptance from! Seeing that brothers don’t own any media outlets, I can’t help you gain prominence in white folks eyes.

        Maybe instead of seeking acceptance from white folks…who you secretly envy…perhaps you should focus on being a better, more HAPPY human being. If you changed your disposition, maybe a decent brother would come along and give you the time of day.

      • And what’s up with hiding what you look like? It seems like anyone with a computer and a hotspot can become an invisible armchair revolutionary. What do some of you sisters look like? I’m curious…

        • karnythia

          I’m not hiding a damned thing. I just don’t care about pandering to pissants like you.

          • Juuuuust what I thought…I’d be angry too if I looked like sea mammal!

            • karnythia

              Aww, you keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better. We both know you’re mad you can’t get near anyone quality after you start talking. Now your trolling is boring me. Go away.

    • brandi

      You need to have several seats

  • karnythia

    Hate & anger? Not the same thing. But you’re not smart enough to understand that. You’re unarmed & uninformed which is really making me feel sad for anyone who actually listens to you. Time to go Tweedledum.

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