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Black Women, Violence, Or Why is Our Pain Funny to You?

So I asked this question on Twitter, but then I realized I wanted to ask it here too. As all the discussions circulate about domestic violence blackface at Waverly & the bus driver in Cleveland who decided to punch a belligerent female passenger at what point do we talk about why so many are quick to laugh about violence against black women? When do we talk about domestic violence stats in the black community & how often violence against black women is encouraged and supported by the mainstream narrative that black women are strong and can’t be hurt?

I’m totally willing to have a discussion about racialized misogyny, and what it means to say that WOC can never be victimized, but I’m not sure we’re ready to have it. Because it would mean talking about sexual abuse of black women before the age of 18, and intimate partner violence like black women are human. And so far I’m not seeing too many people willing to recognize our humanity, much less our vulnerability to violence. So when can we start the conversation, and how long before it is about the health and safety of black women, and not just another discourse on how we need to support black men?

26 thoughts on “Black Women, Violence, Or Why is Our Pain Funny to You?”

  1. charmed says:

    This has been my issue through this whole bus driver thing. Why is it so funny that violence against black women is so nonchalant and unrepentant? Why do we desrve to be mocked like this?

    1. JustTheFacts says:

      The reason why people are laughing has nothing to do with the girl that was hit being black or female. People are laughing because they feel she deserved it.

      Firstly, imagine a typical bus-drive and passenger interaction. You get on the bus, maybe you say hello or don’t say anything at all, you pay your fare, you sit down. At what point does an altercation arise between a passenger and a bus driver? The bus driver is at all times doing his job- driving the bus and making sure everyone pays their fare. The bus driver is not socializing. So in order for a bus driver to react the way the man in this video did, the passenger must have provoked him somehow. That places “blame” on the woman, and thus, the internet likes to see her get what she “deserves”.

      Most people believe men should never hit women, due to the inherent differences in size and power. Other people, think that if feminism is about treating people equally, then women should not be exempt from physical conflicts.

      This situation is entirely different from the Chris Brown fiasco, as Rihanna was a victim of domestic abuse. In my opinion, “blame” cannot be attached to her.

      1. karnythia says:

        Do you really think that if he’d done the same thing to a white woman the internet would be laughing? Or failing to note that the verbal altercation (however it started) was escalated by him?

        1. Melissa says:

          I completely agree. I came to school today, and my fellow peers were watching the video and laughing. I wondered if they would laugh if it was a white woman. Even worse is that they are law students; aren’t they supposed to be angered in the face of crime like this?

          1. Alexis says:

            Yeah, me too! I was extremely disappointed that in my club for girls that all the members were laughing over it except for me and the club advisor. I didn’t understand how it was funny at all. I’m almost certain that if this was a black man uppercutting a white woman, he would’ve gone to jail immediately instead of being awarded for that kind of behavior towards women or people in general.

      2. Charmed says:

        Nope. Why did they feel she deserved it, though? What if she had been white? Male? Would people have laughed then? Hell, no. Violence in that context sounds horrifying, but when it’s black woman, she MUST have done something to deserve to be uppercut, choked, hair-pulled and pushed out of a bus. Do you hear yourself?

        I’ve riden public transportation for most of my life, I’ve seen shit passengers, and I’ve seen shit bus-drivers, even reported a few. But NEVER have I seen ANY excuse for a bus driver to do this, if he is properly trained, and isn’t a horrible human being. This man is a horrible person, and the normalization of violence against black women in major media is a huge problem. Antoine Dodson’s account of how his sister was ALMOST RAPED was turned into an internet meme, and a parodied dance hit. People laughed really easily at that, too, for some reason.

        1. Lady A says:

          Well said :)

  2. srb199 says:

    I so appreciate you raising this question, and framing it in a way that I can use to challenge those in my circles who thought the bus drivers actions were completely valid because of what this woman did. There seems to be a lack of ability to acknowledge our femininity separate from the black community, black men, and black children, as well as difficult for anyone to empathize with how black women feel. It’s like black women are devoid of emotion other than external anger that is deemed nothing but anger. For his part, it looks like the bus driver will either lose his job, pension or some completely unnecessary but appropriate consequence will occur in regard to his position as a bus driver. I’m eager for an real discussion about the emotional needs, and acknowledgement of the humanity of black women to be continued.

  3. LadyA says:

    I’ve been trying to find a site where I can discuss this incident. I’m one of the very, very few people who found it ironically disturbing of how many people laughed in sexist, misogynist pleasure when a black woman is subjected to violence. But here’s the kicker..Remember the Rihanna Chris Brown situation? As I can vaguely remember people were outraged and angered both black men and women when we found our Rihanna had been hit by a male that left her face bloody. Now answer me this, why were people more outraged over a superstar celebrity than an average woman when it came to a man hitting a female? See Rihanna is famous, she’s not what they’ve been saying onlne concerning this video “A hoodrat, jigga boo, boogerwolf or a chickenhead”. Rihanna the young lady differ demograpgically. So not only was the laughter, applauds and support to the point of petitioning disturbing but there were women cosigning this. Seems like black women aren’t worth a discussion support unless we’re some perfect model of woman. God forbid she’s a chickenhead, hoodrate etc. No one sympathizes with her. It’s so disturbing to see how devalued black women are. The comments on every site I read was comming up with so many excuses to support this man hitting this woman like this. Then when they were called out for their misogynist, sexist undertones in their comments they all of a suddent started making it about “safety” and the passengers in which one was so concerned they had to film and enjoy a public fight between two people **sarcasm** I often express my resentment towards the lop-sided gender protection regarding black women in society. I’m sure if that were a black male, as many times as we’ve seen being uppercut by a white man doesn’t matter if he was the first to strike or not we’d be yelling “Racism”. I’ve seen multiple videos black women being disrespected and people automatically blame the black woman. I’m not sure if t’s going to take for a slueth of black women to die in order for our community to care about the black woman’s self worth. Most of the views of that video was very sexist and misogynist. I’ve read more than my fair share of “Step to a man get treated like a man” comments. It’s quite disturbing.

    1. karnythia says:

      Even Rihanna didn’t escape some victim blaming (admittedly no one was laughing, but people were happy to blame her for his behavior), but you’re right. There seems to be some idea that only respectable women deserve any protection, and that only if they never stand up for themselves. Black women are already dying from intimate partner violence & police brutality, but any efforts to discuss it seem to generate “Why don’t y’all support black men?” as though our lives are only fodder for their protection. And while some black men do get it & will step up for black women even they can see that misogyny is poisoning our communities.

  4. Lady A says:

    Oh yes people laughed at Rihanna, called her the b word and everything, I remember that. It’s a disturbing trend just look at some of these videos where black women are being disrespected and violently approached. There’s a video online of a young woman walking past a group of males, she rejected his advances and tried to protect herself and he punched the heck out of her while the other guys didn’t do anything. He pulled her dress up too while the others laughed. There’s a thread on a forum I frequent where people applauded a man for shooting his children’s mother “domestically” because his kids weren’t his and people said they didn’t feel bad for the woman they would have shot her too. Men like that see the lack of protection and humor when it comes to violence about black women and feel it’s okay to do so because no one cares so they feel they won’t be punished. It’s hurtful because I how we rally behind violence against black men and protect them, just look at the O.J. Simpson case black people stood behind that man whether he was guilty or not. I love that I enjoy that, but why doesn’t it happen for black women? Sometimes I put my hands in my head at night thinking about my niece who’s only 4 and looking at her knowing how hard it’s going to be for her as a black person, but as a black woman. I feel so bad sometimes I cry, it hurts. Sorry for the long posts but I have a lot to say and this site is perfect for me :)

  5. lkeke35 says:

    There are quite a number of men out there who for whatever rreasons harbor resentment towards black women and laughing at these videos is their way to vent it.

    There is no excuse for hitting another human being unless that person is assaulting you at that moment.(Did she? Was she mentally disturbed or intoxicated?)) To me, it’s not about male or female, as regards the violence. It’s about self restraint and respecting the physicality of other beings. There is absolutely nothing that a person can possibly be SAYING to you that you can’t walk away from, although it’s possible he couldn’t. That little booth, where he sits, is his OFFICE.

    That said, you have a point. I too get tired of being seen as some sort of emotional robot, or pillar of strength on the one hand and neighborhood hoochie on the other. In my mind, all I’m doing is trying to maintain without going insane, but everyone interprets that as strong and untouchable. Like I can’t be hurt.

    Like the song says: Everybody Hurts. Just because they aren’t letting you see, it doesn’t mean the pain is not there.

  6. bwright says:

    in this situation, the disturbing trend of marginalizing violence against women of color is not the issue. reasonable women should be tired of bird-types cowering behind this “men should never hit women” mindset. generally speaking men should not hit women. they are usually stronger and could probably restrain the woman without incident. that said, men are human beings too. if someone pushes just the “right” button, they are liable to react without thinking. the real question is “why is a woman allowed to be as emotional and ridiculous as she wants and a man has to always represent a model of control and strength?”

    what this is really about is how people may or may not get what they deserve. now, if a person approaches me the way she approached that driver i would probably take an appropriate action (such as call the police or physically remove myself from the situation.) however, all bets are off the second that person touches me. in the video the driver told that “woman”, if she wants to act like a man then she would get treated like one. she deserved to get knocked out because she had the audacity to verbally and physically threaten a complete stranger. it has nothing to do with what genitalia either one of them possess. these are two human being who are bothing hurting for various reasons. then coming into contact with one another was going to produce the same outcome regardless of gender.

    if you poke a hornets nest, you just might get stung.

    1. karnythia says:

      By that logic if she (or relatives) decide to retaliate then that’s okay because he put his hands on her & he escalated their initial interaction. This idea that she’s the villain & he’s the victim completely ignores not only her impaired mental state, it ignores his unprofessional behavior & decision to escalate the violence. This idea that size doesn’t matter (I wonder how many people would be laughing if he punched a much smaller man), nor does gender ignores a whole lot of reality.

      1. Alex says:

        Why “impaired mental health”? Why is that part of the story not being reported?

        1. karnythia says:

          She was (at minimum) intoxicated when this happened.

    2. Lady A says:

      I’s not him hitting her in retaliation that my point, it’s the flip flopping biased and new found “Well we’re all human beings” comments that are coming out over this video when almost 4 years ago people were protesting and breaking and blackmailing cd’s over a man hitting a woman. And I know why, the woman was black and percieved to be from a poor setting so we assumed she just had to be unruly,ghetto, masculine and deserving. The constant perceptions placed on black women which allows people to not empathize or sympathize with us like people do our fairer skinned counterparts.
      It’s irritating to see these same people be so technical about something like when before this video people were really strong standing on the “No man should hit a woman no matter what” scenario.I’m just floored by the backtracking. Is it because the victim was from a low income background, I know how society treat individuals specifically women of color from a low poverty background, like they deserve not a care in the world. Before she stood up she was already assumed to be ghetto, masculine and unruly he was never seen as such, one because of his gender. And we see how they let off attractive wealthy looking women for sleeping or messing with minors. The examples above imo prompted the reactions, people choose to deny race, and gender played a role because it’s a burden and skeletion we want to keep but also hide. That and the sexism and misogynistic undertones that still exist in society, because it’s disgusting how our community and society devalues black women’s pain and suffering. But demographic combined with gender and race plays a major part. I’ve seen similar videos like this and this outpour of support never happened, like I mentioned ever heard of police using the same “I was touched and felt threatened on duty so I shot him”? People have no problem calling them pigs with no control, what happened to that regarding this situation? I think bringing up gender, race, and demographics kind of brought the guilt teip out of people because they know if this woman was white, male, or from another demographic she wouldn’t have been laughed at PLAIN AND SIMPLE. People just can’t be consistent.

  7. Kelly says:

    I’m torn.

    Violence against women is never funny and there are thousands of women everyday who suffer unspeakable indignities at the hands of abusive men. BUT and this is a big but, protection from violence does not give women the right to act violently.

    If we’re going to use this story as an example, we have to tell the whole story and not just the part that fit into our rally cry about our pain as black women.
    While I would like to believe all of my sisters are queens some of us display very unqueen like behavior. This young woman hit and spit on the bus driver. ( If you didn’t see that part of video look around for the longer version).

    Now was the bus driver’s reaction appropriate? As a woman , I would say it was an over reaction but who am I to judge the appropriate level of reaction to being spit on and hit?
    Was there another way he could’ve handled it? Of course, he could have stopped the bus, called the police and waited. How many times do you think she would’ve hit him while he waited for the police to show up?
    We’re always seeking our respect as black women but where is our respect for our men? The atrocity that is the decline of black male/female relationships is two sided.
    Once again I don’t want anyone to take my comments as condoning a man putting his hands on a woman in a violent manner. But I think it’s time we discussed the inappropriateness of a woman putting her hands on a man in a violent manner.
    There are some violent women out in the world, so how do they fit into the “no violence against women”?

    1. karnythia says:

      Go watch the video with the sound on. The bus driver went out of his way to provoke her verbally before she (clearly intoxicated & not in complete control of herself) responded physically. As for it being time to discuss the inappropriateness of a woman putting her hands on a man? I suggest you go look at domestic violence stats & how many women are dying in our community because of it. This conversation is about violence against women, if you want to have another one I suggest starting it elsewhere.

  8. Angel H. says:

    Did you happen to hear the interview she did with Tom Joyner?

    [Trigger warning]

  9. Bell says:

    Here is very similar disgusting uppercut incident that got the same type of joking/ridiculing responses:

  10. Bell says:

    I heard that interview Angel. She claims to have not been drinking and that she was headed to work. Don’t know how believable she is.

    1. Angel H. says:

      Even if she hadn’t been drinking or if she wasn’t mentally impaired, there’s always this onus on women (especially WOC) to be The Perfect Victim with absolutely no blemishes on their character.

      Plus, I think she honestly believed that, because of the forum, she would receive more support. But there was a lot of victim-blaming during that interview.

  11. stefanie b says:

    This is obnoxious. I hate hearing that whole “act like a man get treated like one” b.s. No bus driver should even assault a man like that. People talk about what she deserved, our own black brothers saying she deserved to get hit. Know what I think she deserved? maybe she deserved adequate mental healthcare, maybe she deserved a hug, a vacation, or rehabilitation. Are we not deserving of emotional care? Or are we fuckin punching bags for people who don’t know what else to do with us. I seem to remember a white fellow who shot some folks in a theater, his legions of fellow white men jumping on damage control, citing his school achievements and his need for emotional and mental care. Lucky him.

  12. Felicity says:

    :-O The weight that busdriver puts into that uppercut punch…..that honestly could’ve killed her. Hideous violence.

  13. Deb says:

    As a woman who has been stalked and harassed by white men, I totally feel where everybody is coming from. Not only does how much concern you as a female victim receive depend on your color, but also the perpetrator’s gender and color. Isn’t also time we we start making connections between the suffering in our hearts and our individual families? Blessings to the victims that have warm supporting families, but too many of us do not. From personal experience, it’s not only society that is devaluing us, but even our own mothers and sisters and aunts and cousins when they too are blaming the victim and/or choosing to “not get involved” and furthering the silence.

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