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

Let’s Talk Feminism: Ayesha Curry, “Women are barely wearing clothes these days”

Ayesha Curry, wife of basketball player, Stephen Curry sparked Twitter frenzy over this past weekend with her comment about her preferred style of dress. Her exact words, “Everyone’s into barely wearing clothes these days huh? Not my style. I like to keep the good stuff covered up for the one who matters.” After reading that, I immediately pressed the like button, because I wholeheartedly agree. Women are wearing less and less clothing and some, none at all. Have you seen Miley Cyrus lately? Now, don’t get me wrong, mini dresses are cute and I love the backless shirt/dress thing. However, I do believe the less and less clothing trend is “getting out of hand” for lack of a better phrase.

Many took offense to Ayesha statement, arguing that she was shaming women and suggesting skimpy clothes in some way implies a woman is promiscuous. I didn’t get that from her comment. She merely expressed her preferred style of dress. Nowhere in that tweet is she degrading or shaming women who choose otherwise. That’s the thing about the media and people nowadays; we are easily offended by people who think differently than we do. We perceive their lack of support or difference in opinion as some sort of personal attack. For instance, the #blacklivesmatter, which does not mean people who are not black lives don’t matter. It is simply stating that black lives matter TOO or when America legalized gay marriage and a person didn’t put a rainbow on their profile picture to celebrate, but that’s for another post.

I digress, this conversation reminds me of comment I posted on Facebook a few weeks back about how the more famous a woman becomes, the more naked she seems to get; as if, nakedness equals relevancy. I shouted out Janelle Monae, Heather Headley and even Taylor Swift for not giving into the hype. My comment was in reference to the “Slut Walk” that Amber Rose did, a declaration that it is a woman’s prerogative to be a slut if she wants to be. *insert dropped jaw here* Whether we admit it or not, women in the entertainment industry heavily influence the trends of the everyday woman. Many entertainers attribute the less clothing trend, coinciding with the taboo “Slut Walk” campaign, as a supposed proclamation of female empowerment and feminism. The way I see it, it sounds more like an excuse than a cause. Let’s be real, entertainers like Beyonce, Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Ariana Grande are wearing less clothing because “sex sells” not because of feminism or female empowerment. In addition, majority of women who dress proactively/ skimpy are doing it for attention, mainly attention of men. You can theoretically blame this whole era of getting naked on women’s rights, but at the same time must admit it is still driven by men. Female empowerment? Sounds more like regression to me. Nevertheless, how is this empowering anyhow, promoting the idea that wearing less clothing is somehow embodying feminism, while raising a woman’s chances of being sexually assaulted and/or raped. In addition, encourage women that it is okay to have multiple partners, while making them more susceptible to STD’s and emotional distress. Perhaps, I am being extreme, but how does dressing more proactively or being promiscuous add value to feminism? More importantly, what message are we sending to our little girls who are growing up to believe showing off their bodies leads to success and being promiscuous is just another part of a woman’s freedom.

I get it; we live in an era where women have more control over our own lives, including what we choose to wear, or how little for that matter. I am all for female empowerment, feminism, and not being limited by societal opinions. Now call me old fashion, but is it wrong or in some way destructive to the cause for a woman’s body to be enjoyed by the one who matters, and not her 300,000 followers? Is it damaging or wrong to promote the idea of falling in love before having sex; better yet, marriage before sex? I recall the backlash singer Ciara and football player Russell Wilson received for declaring they are waiting till marriage to have sex, as if their choice was somehow detrimental to society.

Now, a woman has the freedom and choice to dress however she chooses. Likewise, she has the choice to have sex with as many men as she pleases too. Though, I refuse to pardon the whole “slut walk” campaign. That is far from empowering and I am certain even the most non-conservative person would agree. Though, we have the freedom to do these things, should we? And, if it is truly for empowerment or feminism and not some form of attention-seeking or people-pleasing, why not, “keep the good stuff for the one who matters?” Just a thought.

What is your take on Ayesha Curry’s tweet, offensive or taken out of context? Comment below.

Your Moment is now,

Ebby Lane