The Appeal To Black Men: Don’t Get Lost In The Crowd When Fighting Rape Culture
Guest Writer: @Ashley LaTruly
There was such uproar this past week surrounding Black men and their misunderstanding (at best) of how women should be treated or their blatant disregard for women (at worst). Rick Ross is being shamed (and rightfully so) for his clear description of date rape in one of his recently released singles and there is further outrage at his unrepentant, half a**ed apology tweet. There was also such clear and vehement disgust shown for the rape/hot and heavy love scene in Tyler Perry’s newest film “Temptation” which just hit theaters. We also called out the father who has been charged with abuse for beating his teenage daughter with what looked to be an extension cord in a video that went viral in less than a few hours.
The pattern I witness over and over since I began really becoming a part of national and global discussions online is that we are VERY vocal about the most visible atrocities but seem to be less invested in stopping those close to home.
The outcry for Rick Ross to release a statement of believable apology and to lose his endorsements is deafening. The demand for an explanation from Tyler Perry about the interpreted rape scene in his newest movie is fierce. And while I applaud the Black community for using public forums and social networks to hold each other accountable for our actions I worry that we have forgotten the “Act locally” piece of ideology.
The anonymity of tweeting Rick Ross that his lyrics disgust us is a protective coating. Most of us will never meet him face-to-face. But the same concern we have for his lyrics which barefacedly disrespect women, if gathered up and poured into our own lives would do so much more good. If we could lift our voices when it’s a little closer to home, a little more personal, how much greater an impact could we make?
If more Black men would consider the “I am my Sister’s keeper too” mentality and let that drive them to hold their friends accountable for calling a woman outside of her name or putting hands on a wife or girlfriend or DAUGHTER… That impression could change the nation.
It takes little courage to call out a celebrity with a tweet or e-mail that chances are, they will never see. But it takes a bold, dare I say, righteous outlook on life and a sincere love of ALL women to check your ace when he’s acting a fool. I am convinced that that outlook and love exists within Black men. I am convinced that that respect and that courage courses through the veins of Black men the world over. Popular opinion and media spin would have us believe otherwise, that Black men are not invested, neither locally or on a grander scale in the protection and respect of women but I know, we all know better. There is a sea of faces out there, fighting for one cause or another – Black men, don’t get lost in the shuffle. You are needed on the frontlines.
We see women, most notably Black women come out in droves to support causes that uplift Black men and that stand against senseless killing of Black men across America. It can be a bit disheartening to many of those same women when in cases like that of Zerlina Maxwell, we don’t see or hear the same amount of vigorous support from Brothas. Are you out there? I believe 100% that you are. But this is not the time to get lost in the crowd.
I am a survivor of sexual assault. I was 19 and he was my “boyfriend.” I said, “No” repeatedly. My heart raced and time stopped. I screamed. I beat on his back. I scratched him. Eventually he stopped but I was already changed. All I wanted to do was bathe and scrub that night away. The word “rape” never occurred to me because well, he was my boyfriend.
Some weeks later as I recounted the evening, it took a close friend – a Black male – telling me I had been raped for me to even connect it all. Though he could not stop what happened to me, that friend listened to me when I needed to talk about it the most. He even urged me to get the help I needed although I declined because I couldn’t see myself going to a counselor as though I were someone’s victim. He didn’t judge. He did curse a bit, wishing he had access to the “boyfriend” who had stolen my virginity in a crushing barrage of sweat and pain. Had it not been for that friend – a Black male – who cared about my well-being, I might not have been able to work through the effects of that night and transform from victim to survivor.
So, no. I dare not let media propaganda sap my intelligence and trick me into generalizing that all Black men totally disregard violence against women or have a problem with holding one another accountable when it comes to respecting women. I believe wholeheartedly that there are many more upstanding, righteous Brothas who live by a code of honor than those who have allowed their morals to become so irreversibly tainted that they believe acts of violence whether in speech or physical act are no big deal. I trust that good, honorable character is still a bold trait among Black men just as it was in my great-grandfather’s day and his father’s day before him.
What I do question, however, is the full use of the Black man’s voice and character in America. There’s more power there than you give yourselves credit for, more impact there than it seems you remember of your bold, regal history. Don’t forget who you are and what you love. Yes, women are doing a whole lot for themselves these days but we appreciate your support more than you know.
Please, from a Sista to her Brothas, her future husband, her future son(s)… Don’t get lost in the crowd.
La Truly writes to encourage and catalyze thought, discussion and positive change among young women. She is a contributor to MadameNoire. Follow La on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and AboutMe www.about.me/latruly.