Fighting Racism, but Being Silent About Gender-based Violence

I’m down for the cause of fighting oppression against my people, or any group of people facing unfair obstacles. It’s no lie that we, as black people, continue to face many troubles due to a still-racist society. And racism is still as hot a topic today as it was back in the day before any of us were born.

However, as much as we fight the powers and privileges-that-be, sometimes I wonder about the internalized oppression-type brainwash that’s constantly inflicted on us day in and day out that’s expressed in harmful, destructive ways, especially when it crosses gender lines.

I came across an article on Black Youth Project written by Charlene Carruthers responding to a Huffpost video about “hoodsites” like – you know – WorldStarHipHop, a website powered on black pathology. She writes how the conversation purposely leaves out gender-based violence:

“I first learned about the segment’s fallout on Twitter and initially dismissed it as the typical “this is a race issue, not a gender issue” argument. After watching the full video, I felt anguish and anger at the conflict and where the conversation ended.

The tension seemed to first emerge after Dr. Cooper introduced the idea that “there is a gender dynamic to this conversation too.” After laying out supporting points to her argument Rhymefest interjected with “Why you so mad?” I was immediately triggered. His remarks echo the “Angry Black Woman” trope often carted out to silence and pathologize Black women. Che “Rhymefest” Smith, seemingly supported by Dr. Lee, laid out arguments that are both problematic and parallel to the messages, practices, policies and strategies which continue to fail to end violence in our communities.

I’m admittedly used to being around and having conversations with dope men who get it. I work with an number of young Black men everyday who understand the value and importance of centering an analysis of gender in all discussions about violence. However, the comfort I feel with them doesn’t serve the broader need to discuss misogyny in Black politics and social justice work…”

Let’s not front here. We live in a society that doesn’t care about women or girls nearly as much as it does for men and boys. And that same mindset exists in African American communities. Racism is, without a doubt- a major problem, but so is sexism and misogyny. We really can not fight racism without being asking who are we fighting for? Are we fighting for black people which include black females and black LGBT members, or are we fighting for black people which usually implies black males first and foremost?

Ya’ll, we really need to ask ourselves tough questions and take a deeper look at what’s going on,, and what and why it’s going on. Of course, there has been activist work on behalf of black men. But since when are black women excluded from the cause? And if and when there is such work, and there is, why is it a bad thing to some of us?

fighting-racism-but-being-silent-about-gender-based-violence-genderI think part of the reason is that many of us are afraid that addressing gender violence in our communities will lead to negative stereotypes about black men. But when you think about it, it seems more like a concern for image than reality. It sends a morbid message that the protection of the image of black men is more important than saving and supporting black women. And it also says that black women’s issues are no big thing.

I’m not gonna deny the truth that racism against blacks is still kicking. Of course it is. Still, we need to address violence against black women when doing any kind of work that address violence against and among black people. In other words, we need to be real about our own internalized oppressions which include, but are not limited to, sexism. We can not truly be free, unless ALL OF US are free. Period.