Dear Black Community: Stop Enabling Sexual Predators

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I stopped supporting R. Kelly a long time ago. After watching the documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly,” I could not believe how severe the abuse is/was. The way he preys on little girls to the way he treated his wife is/was beyond sickening. Besides the fact he is a disgusting person, I couldn’t help but consider the numerous adults who failed these girls.

It baffled me how many adults, including their parents, enabled and continue to allow his sick behavior to continue. Then, we have the black community blaming the victims, expecting teenage girls to rationalize like adults.

The only people to blame here are the adults including the parents who were present and did nothing. Yet, we continue to say things like, she knew what kind of man he was, she put herself in that position or she had it coming with those little, short dresses she always wore to church. If you make excuses for R. Kelly or blame the women, you are the person who sits on the sideline and allow this to continue. I feel sorry for your daughters, your nieces or any little girl listening to you defend this sad excuse for a man. Because your sorry rhetoric only confirms she can never tell you it happened to her too. After all, why would she?

It is deeper than R. Kelly though.

There is an alarmingly higher rate of sexual abuse of black women. According to a study conducted Black Women’s Blueprint, 60% of black girls experienced sexual abuse at the hands of black men before reaching the age of 18.

In addition, there is a code of silence in the black community that continues to haunt us today. We don’t like to talk about abuse. We rather sweep it under the rug and pretend it did not happen.

Think about it, how many children did not tell the family about the uncle who was touching all the little girls at the family gatherings. Some of the family knew about it, in fact, some of the little girls told. Yet, he was still invited to the family gatherings and reunions because he was the favorite uncle. Let’s talk about the youth pastor taking advantage of girls in his office. Church folk speculated it was happening, but no one wanted to expose him because his sermons were amazing and led new members to the church. Also, he visited members when they were sick, counseled and prayed with the family during hard times. What about the community leader doing so much for the community that you cover up the fact he molested little girls, thinking it would do more damage than good for the community as a whole.

In addition to the code of silence, there is an unspoken code for the black woman to protect the image of the black man at all cost. For example, in the article, “Sexual Abuse and The Code of Silence In The Black Community, “Cherise Charleswell discussed criticism surrounding the novels, “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker and “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison. In the 1980s both novels received backlash because they shed light on a black man abusing a black woman and getting away with it.

The criticism was not on the dismissal of abuse but rather the subsequent “bashing of black men and making them look bad under the public gaze.”

I recall the history behind the Civil Rights movement where black wives simply “put up” with their husbands’ infidelity and/or abuse because there was a more significant cause at stake. Recently, the Bill Cosby case where the black community, specifically black women supported him because of what he represented for us as a community, once again excusing his criminal actions and/or pretending they did not exist. And, now, R.Kelly, though a known problem since the ’90s. Yet, we still play his music on radio stations, attend his concerts and celebrate him as the “king of R&B.”

There needs to be understanding within our community and perhaps, an altering of the narrative that one black man does not represent all.

Thus, holding the sexual abusers accountable for their action without criminalizing “all” black men. At the end of the day, if we allow his status, what he has done for the community and his musical legacy to excuse his crimes, we fail our little girls, we fail black women, and we fail our community as a whole.
What are your thoughts on the documentary and the black code?

Ebby LeBlanc

Why Black Panther is Important

 I remember sitting in American History class. My high school was predominantly white with maybe 30% or less minority population. I sat next to the only other black person in the classroom.

We flipped through the history book and found the section of African American history. I am not exaggerating, out of a 400-page book, we had one chapter and it was maybe three pages long.

Can you imagine being a young American black girl discovering who you are and trying figure out your place in the world to discover ONLY three pages of people who look like you? 

Society does a great job perpetuating images and standards of beauty many cannot live up to, especially black women. Much of my childhood came with hating the way I looked and wishing I wasn’t black. Feeling cursed because my hair felt different and my skin was too dark.

I used to play pretend with my friends and cousins; we would pretend we were white. White people were beautiful. They were models. They were on the front cover of magazines. They were leading ladies in the movies, especially the romantic ones. They were Disney princesses.

By the way, I was an adult when the first black Disney princess was created. 

I recall a time in high school when a Hispanic boy asked the only two or three black girls in class why black girls didn’t have hair. Too many of us had breakage and short hair because our parents were taught to tame our afros, coils, and curls by putting a chemical in our hair to permanently strengthen it.

I was twenty-four when I discovered the real texture of my hair. Even now, I find myself defending the stigma that my hair is ugly in its natural state. I have to protect the image of my puffy afro from people trying to convince me I am more beautiful when my hair is straight.

So what does all this have to do with a Black superhero from Wakanda? 

Majority of black representation on the big screen is often extreme stereotypes, sometimes perpetuated by our own people. The only “real” black movies with people that look like me were gangster life in the hood or slavery. None of which I could relate to.

But, Black Panther is a superhero. What does that have to do with black culture?

It is the representation that being black can be cool. It is the celebrations of black roots and black culture without being slaves or poor. It is the idea that dark skin is beautiful. That kinky, coily hair is fashionable and attractive.

It is the image of black women being celebrated and regarded as crucial characters in a plot and not the side-kick of the leading white girl or white man. It is dark black skin being the majority in the movie and not just the token black man in a cast to represent “diversity.” 

Many may not comprehend the importance of black culture, our need to be celebrated or our need to be represented, not only in history books but in the media, in cartoons, and in movies.

After all, they were not the young girl questioning her beauty and the worth of her people.

Oh, how that has changed. Now, we are dark-skinned warriors, a part of a rich society the rest of the world does not even compare to. We are superheroes!

 

Ebby LeBlanc

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Day

We are living in time that it is difficult to be proud to be an American. I am disappointed with the path we are going. However, in the words of Dr. King “we must accept finite disappointment, but never loose infinite hope.” There will be better days. I will continue to fight and speak out against injustice, racism, and inequality.

The Bittersweet Dream of Dr. King

 

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It’s Martin Luther King Day. Cities around the nation will have annual parades and celebratory gestures in honor of the man, who had a specific dream.

However, this M.L.K day feels quite different from the previous ones.

Here’s why, President Obama, our first black president gave a farewell speech last Tuesday. It was a beautiful farewell to a standup man, met with hostility and disapproval simply because he is black.

Despite his credentials, clean record, poise as a leader, some could not accept a black man being a leader, being president. After all, history made its best attempt to ensure it wouldn’t happen.

Too soon, a man will take office, who is making it his point to erase President Obama’s legacy and Dr. King’s dream. Not only that, he is stripping all diversity and reverting to a government where the representation in the White House is rich, white men.

He has purposely appointed people, who are known for their Alt-Right views, moving us further away from the Dr. King dream.

The slogan itself, “Make America Great Again,” a slap in the face and racism at its best. After all, when has America ever been great for anyone other than people like him.

Like many, I am left perplexed at how that man is our next president. I am insulted at how anyone can support such immortality, making excuses for his shortcomings and ridiculing people like Meryl Streep for calling him out on his… stuff.

Every time we fight for justice, fight for equal rights, there is resistance.

What is wrong with everyone being treated with respect and being “judged by the content of their character?” It is saddening how many do not realize what side they are truly on.

When you support people like Trump, you ARE choosing the side of the oppressor.

Many are fearful of what is to come. My peace is knowing, despite how it appears, God is still in control. He saw this coming; it was in the plans. Now, we must wait and see. Much will be revealed through this presidency. My hope, unity will come in the most unlikely way. After all, M.L.K day and our first black president are proof our country is capable of moving toward equality.

-Ebby

 

 

 

Maybe We Should Thank Trump…

I know I’m not alone when I say, the results of the election took me by surprise. I believe it took Trump supporters by surprise as well. My emotions are in disarray attempting to fathom how this…. man has countless supporters. Even more, many I call friends. For my own sanity, I’ve derived at the conclusion that my friends are just plain die-hard Republicans no matter who is on the ballot… yeah, moving on.

I woke up to Newsfeeds and Facebook post of celebration and my stomach literally wanted to expel last’s night dinner. It pains me deeply that a man could be as reckless with his words/actions, be endorsed by David Duke, boastfully degrade women, have rape charges of a thirteen year old girl filed against him (which I am certain will manage to be buried under somebody’s rug in the coming months), publicly mocked a disabled journalist, degraded Mexican people openly. He has referred to various Nationalities and groups of people as, “the” blacks “the” Hispanics “the” Muslims; as well as, paid for a public ad that sought the death penalty for five innocent black teenagers accused of rape, who were all later exonerated. The list goes on and on; yet, this man still managed to win the most powerful position in the United States of America. Mind-blowing! After all, I thought we were moving forward with equality, women’s rights and so forth. Obviously, I couldn’t be more wrong.

After all, I thought we were moving forward with equality, women’s rights and so forth. Obviously, I couldn’t be more wrong.

Once my stomach settled…slightly and somehow, my optimistic self-returned, I had an epiphany. I actually want to thank Trump. Hear me out. For the last eight years, I thought I was crazy. Here we have a black man and a politician with absolutely no “dirt” on his name or scandals to denounce his character run for office. He wins the presidency for two terms… TWO! Yet, I’ve felt the pangs of racism more than ever. I have heard comments and witnessed actions that were both troubling and appalling in the streets, on my job, and even at my church. I have lived the last eight years of people attempting to convince me racism is all in my head or that I’m stirring up divisiveness with my own skewed perceptions of police brutality, unfair treatment, and alarming numbers of incarcerated black men for petty crimes. Trump, thank you for proving I’m not crazy.

I have lived the last eight years of people attempting to convince me racism is all in my head or that I’m stirring up divisiveness with my own skewed perceptions of police brutality, unfair treatment, and alarming numbers of incarcerated black men for petty crimes. Trump, thank you for proving I’m not crazy.

Thank you for exposing that America remains a country full of racist, bigots, sexist, misogynic, ignorant and hatred-filled people. Your run for the presidency enabled the “liquid courage” needed. It provided the confidence to be boastful and apologetically wear a t-shirt at the polls that literally say, “put white back in the White House.” It saddens me, angers me and renders me slightly hopeless in my country, “America the free, home of the brave” where a man can joke about grabbing a woman’s “pussy” and win the presidency by a country mile. It is mystifying that a presidential candidate in 2016 has a slogan that renders, “make America great again,” in a country with a long history of oppression of others (people who aren’t rich white men).  I’m thinking he forgot about invading someone else’s land where Native Americans were just about dissipated and don’t get me started on that damn pipeline, which I’m certain he will not intervene in. Perhaps, slavery slipped his mind. The Civil Rights movement? What about women not being able to vote? I’m guessing all those aspects of American history lapsed his memory while he was playing golf on his million dollar golf course, or is it billion?

Nevertheless, another potential positive was realized, just maybe Trump did something good.

Nevertheless, another potential positive was realized… just, maybe, Trump did something good.He made it possible for a non-politician to win the presidency. In addition, he opened the door to the idea that your past can no longer disqualify you for Commander-in-chief. Okay, I’m not so sure that’s a positive. However, look at this way, it may not look like it now, but this is a game-changer.Hopefully, this will shake up Washington, which needed a shaking up after the trash of the two candidates to choose from.

Hopefully, this will shake up Washington, which needed a shaking up after the trash of the two candidates to choose from.

Now, I’m not naive to believe he is the first racist, misogynic president we’ve had, but he is by far the most honest about it. Perhaps, this is a step in a direction where it possible to have quality candidates and not repeat the travesty of election 2016. Let’s be hopefully America. I know it’s hard, but right now, optimism is all we’ve got. Optimism and a former playboy model in the White House. Either way, I believe the ultimate ruler of this Nation is God and He will forever remain in control of it all. God. Bless. America!

-Ebby LeBlanc