When Black Girls Are Robbed of their Innocence

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I’m grateful to Art 180 for providing me with a platform to share my story about racism, harassment on the internet and how it affects the mental wellness of Black girls and women at their gallery called “Everything is Connected”. My painting is an embodiment of how the lack of intersectionality affects the well-being of Black women. Even though Black women are the most disrespected, unprotected and neglected people in America, we’re often expected to show up for people who marginalize our voices. We’re often placed at the back of movements for gun reform, feminism, immigration rights, racial justice, and LGBTQ+ Rights.

When we bring up how misogynoir plays a factor in all these injustices, we’re branded as angry, accused of attacking/clashing with other people, being disrespectful, and not exchanging our opinions peacefully. I speak from experience.After speaking at a March for Our Lives demonstration, I was invited organize with a group of White high school students, who had a very funny way of showing their support for Black voices. My Black experience was devalued when I was told that there’s less racism nowadays, that it only exists in the South and that the racism I experienced in my early childhood is no longer valid because ‘It was in the past’. So, I asked them how they uplift Black voices through their actions, and I was accused of “questioning their activism”.

When I said that racism, police brutality and gun violence against Black youth should be addressed by this movement, I faced harassment by the White organizers. One White man harassed me from multiple Instagram accounts. I was told that I was being divisive for addressing the racial disparities, that “this is about all lives, American lives and not Black lives”, that I should leave this country if I don’t like it, that I shouldn’t be working with them if I’m “changing the subject of who they’re really trying to help” which left me inconsolable.

The fact the organizers held me accountable by cancelling my speech with intentions of addressing the racial disparities at the National Walkout protest on Brown’s island, instead of this White male who is older than I am, is a good example of how a 19-year-old White man gets to be “just a kid” and how Black girls are never viewed as children. We are depicted as less innocent than our White counterparts. One day, I hope to live in a world where Black girls aren’t harassed on the internet and robbed of their innocence at a young age when they voice their opinions.

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