juneteenth

I have mixed emotions about Juneteenth becoming a national holiday. For one, it took us long enough, and two, the timing seems more of a ploy to shut us up about the issues of racism constantly being overlooked and whitewashed in our country.

Whenever my community gets loud about racism, we are met with backlash and temporary solutions that feel more like band-aids than cures. When we speak up about band-aids, we’re told how to feel by people who have no desire to understand. Instead, we should be grateful that we got something (holiday), which is toxic positivity that future proves what we have always known, black lives don’t matter enough in this country.

Nonetheless, Juneteenth becoming a holiday is still a good thing. The idea that it will spark curiosity for those who don’t know this part of history. Now, we just have to tackle the “critical race theory” ban to ensure students learn about it in school.

-Eboni

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