Me-Too, isn’t new to women and its definitely not new to Black Women.
According to Zara Hill at Ebony Magazine, “A Black Woman Created the ‘Me-Too’ Campaign Against Sexual Assault 10 Years Ago”. I’ll see Zara’s 10 and raise her centuries.
At this point, many readers are probably thinking, why does everything have to be black or white; or why does everything have to be race related?
The answer to that question is simple yet complicated but I’ll answer in the simplistic. The American Society is predicated on its race relations and how people of color fit into the fabric of American Society–a fabric that is stained with so much blood shed by minorities, the very color of that fabric has changed.
As the largest group of oppressed people in America, Black People have contributed the most bloodshed to the stain. Black Women are immediately next in line after Black People as a whole, being the most harassed, assaulted,subjugated, and objectified individuals to date. Feel free to look it up, crunch the numbers, and carry the 1.
The Me-Too Movement is not a contest by any means however it is an opportunity to shed light on what America has ignored for centuries, its uncanny ability to abuse, murder, and torture Black Women and subsequently turn its back on them.
Black Women have been the Me Too Movement since Sarah Baartman was forced into the circus pageantry of sexual abuse and exploitation. If you don’t know her, Google it. Time has at least been kind enough to offer us the technology of seeing a glimpse into America’s historical transgressions of predatory protection and concealment thereof.
Historically, Black Women have been portrayed as distrustful and are rarely if, ever taken seriously when reporting sexual assault. We could ask Betty Owens who was raped by 4 white men in 1959 (Mark 0:25), wait! lets go way back…ask any woman who was stereotyped as a Jezebel during slavery. Unfortunately we can’t ask these women anything; they’re all dead. But, the daughters of their pasts aren’t
From a racial peer standpoint, Black Women are also at a disadvantage when reporting sexual assault when her attacker is someone within the same ethnic group because she does not want to contribute to staggering number of incarcerated black and brown men. (statistically speaking, most sexual attacks that are reported are commented my males)
The denial of Black Women as victims of sexual assault and abuse has been a stigma that has followed them for a very long time. This, among other things has rendered Black Women nearly invisible in today’s Me-Too Movement.
April Reign, the brainchild of the #OscarsSoWhite is of the belief that Black Women don’t have the same support system as White women when reporting sexual assault and therefore are less likely to come forward.
In addition to the aforementioned obstacles for Black Women when it comes to exposing their attackers, is the cultural pressure of Black Women to exude strength and fearlessness at all times.
For my entire life, I was not only taught to be strong, I was also given many examples through my mother, grandmother, aunts, and nearly every matriarch in my family. They all possessed this certain will of power to maneuver and endure the most difficult situations. Not only did they survive them, they did so without fear. And if they were afraid, very few knew it because they didn’t show it. Ask any Black Woman if she’s aware of this, adheres to it, believes, and/or teaches it to her very own daughter?
This mindset also contributes to why many Black Women completely forego reporting their sexual attackers and are more likely to vehemently fight them off and thereafter avoid any future encounters with them. This mentality and maddening methodology is a direct result of the strength that Black Women carry; and being a Black Female Hollywood professional in the 21st Century has not changed this.
Unfortunately its only added to the omnipresent condition that Black Women have always endured; and it further illustrates why Hollywood’s numbers don’t provide enough proof of these occurrences when Black Women are the victims.
Again, this is not a COMPETITION. It’s an opportunity to change a horrible nightmare that has been playing for too damn long.
Ask any Black Woman if she’s strong and she’ll respond in the affirmative without hesitation.
Ask any Black Woman why she is strong and she’ll likely be puzzled.
The reality is this: Black Women are and have been taught to be so strong and fearless that they face situations of vulnerability as if it were normal; because for most Black Women, vulnerability is normal. They adjust to the environment with fearlessness. So, being in a situation where someone will attempt to sexually violate them is not as intimidating as it should be. When Black Women are accosted by unwanted sexual advances, they respond in a myriad of ways, few of which involve showing any type of weakness, compliance, or flattery.
Why? Because for Black Women being strong is a requirement of her existence that determines her survival, success, and that of her heirs. She has to be strong if she plans to survive life, be successful in life, and ensure that her children have the opportunity to do the very same. And by this very standard should she fail at either task, know that it is not due to lack of effort. This attribute is not without its rewards. Black Women have achieved great and near impossible feats by tapping into that superpower of being strong and unmoved by life’s terror.
On the other hand, this double-edged sword has often conditioned Black Women into vulnerability. (along with many other unrewarding circumstances)
What both American Society and Hollywood has failed to understand is, the process that is in place when Black Women build their strength involves fight. Both literally and figuratively Black Women fight for each level of progress they’ve attained. (not that other women don’t have to put in work) The sacrifices and casualties of each fight reveal themselves in a multitude of ways. But the most important yet invisible cost is the vulnerability that comes with the strength of a Black Woman and the impression it sets that Black Women don’t need and aren’t worthy of support.
Since October of 2017, more than 40 of Hollywood’s Professional Women have come forward with accusations of sexual assault. Less than 10 of those women are Black. While there are likely more than 40 women who have been sexually attacked or assaulted, there’s also a strong likelihood that there are more Black Women among those numbers as well; but as long as the stigmas enveloping Black Women exist, we may never know these women. We may never have an opportunity to support and embrace them.