This is an opinion piece written by blog contributor. All opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Urban Grace Magazine
This is exhausting.
It is no secret that police brutality and excessive force have claimed the lives of black men across the nation and I can wholeheartedly appreciate the conversation and the activism that Mike Brown and Eric Garner’s cases have brought about within our communities. I will never get tired of seeing people come together to fight for the civil and human rights of others.
I do however, get tired of explaining certain things to people. Here’s some back story.
A few nights ago, my fiancée and I were lying around blowing through episodes of A Different World, which we often do when we don’t feel like investing energy into actually watching TV. You know, it’s just on in the background. The show has always been known to touch on topics that were relevant to the Black community, so when we came upon the episode (Great X-Pectations) where Charmaine and Terrell return to campus to tell others that they were chased off the road by a gang, I paid a little more attention.
Terrell gets a gun and vows to protect himself and any woman that he may be with, but it ends up getting him expelled from school. The only way he’s able to continue his education is through the fact that participates in a Malcolm X vs Martin Luther King Jr. debate, which proves that he learned the error of his ways.
Then, the trailer for Selma came on. Watching these people who could have been our grandmothers and grandfathers take all that abuse in the name of freedom made me proud, but it also made me a little nauseous.
Because we are no further removed from the march to Selma Alabama in 2014 than they were in 1965. We are essentially fighting for the same respect nearly 50 years later.
I asked my fiancée how he really felt about the protests going on in Ferguson and New York City and we started having a conversation about our individual experiences and feelings about our blackness in America. We live in the south, and that movie trailer really stirred some things up.
We talked about how unsafe he felt in the past as he walked to and from work in the wee hours of the morning, and how uneasy it always made me feel. Times when he thought police were trying to stop him with a spotlight on his back, how he had to approach the car a certain way to ensure that he wasn’t perceived as a threat. We talked about kids he works with at his current job and watching how wary they are of law enforcement.
Then I made a comment along the lines of “Well, while you’re busy trying to look non-threatning, I get to be afraid of men and being verbally disrespected, having to police my every single action so that no one thinks I’m asking to be touched inappropriately. Women in general are not valued by society and it seems that they especially don’t give a damn about black women.”
I realize that the whole conversation started based off a show that was created by Bill Cosby, but I can tell you without a bit of hesitation that I do not like him as a pillar of Black Hollywood. I do not gaze upon him fondly as representation of black fatherhood or family values. And frankly, I have never respected his opinions on black culture and the education of our youth. With all these allegations against him for sexual assault and the lack of investigation or general outrage of such, I’m realizing that black women’s lives don’t matter. It doesn’t matter, because even though he’s a black man, he’s still got male privilege on his side.
Privilege is the concept that some groups of people have advantages that others groups do not. This is commonly used in the context of social inequality and this case is no different. Sexual assaults go unreported due to male privilege and the idea that you or I as a woman must have done something to provoke the attack, rather than asking why we haven’t punished men and taught our boys that a woman’s body belongs to her. They have no right to demand something from her. As black women, we have been seen as not much more than bodies for centuries.
In the cases of police brutality, this privilege is because they are law enforcement. You can assume that he is legally innocent and he did the right thing because they are upholders of the law.
In the case of Myekko Durden-Bosely, while she has plenty of room for a civil suit against the officer that fractured bones in her eye, the law says that’s okay, even if there were other measures that the officer could have taken. What about the deaths of Reika Boyd and Aiyana Stanley-Jones, or the humiliating way that Denise Stewart was dragged by police from her apartment wearing nothing but underwear. Tanisha Anderson, there are countless examples of excessive force against women, but there’s less to be said about it. We support this movement, yet we are not actually included in it.
Yes, we hope that shouting from the streets and withholding our economic power will get us justice for all, but are we really concerned about all of our people? Where do we go from here? Along with the stereotypes of sexually aggressive and promiscuous, black women are also praised for being strong and a fighter for others. Well, I ask you this:
While you fight the noble cause for the loss of black men’s lives and dignity, are you satisfied that your own struggle goes unnoticed or at the very least, unacknowledged?
We’ve got to do better.