Peace and love,how yall feel?Sisters, how yall feel?Brothers, yall alright?-Erykah Badu
Black men have to grow a politic around gender based violence. Y’all need to know how to talk about this. Black men, you have a responsibility to grow your understanding of gender based violence because Black women need you to learn to talk about it in a way that doesn’t point blame to the survivor of violence, or minimize the reality that Black women face abuse and harm. Black men you have a responsibility to us.
Growing a politic (the language to describe systemic issues and interpersonal patterns) about gender and gender based violence is necessary for the future of the Black community and our collective safety. A community that prioritizes racial solidarity at the expense of the safety of young girls and women, is an unstable and unsafe one. For this reason, Black men you have a responsibility. Growing a gender politic is not about academic language. Yes, there exists libraries full of written language you can learn, but that misses the root. The root is learning from the women in your life.
If you communicated openly with your grandmother, her sister, your mother, your girlfriend, your sister or any femme person in your circle, they could tell you handful of incidences of their own experience and/or of more women. It’s a common and tragic problem in our community. Your understanding of gender based violence is dependent on your willingness to absorb these stories. Our community’s safety is dependent upon your understanding.
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 20% of Black women are raped in our lifetime. The percentage of women sexually harassed is undoubtedly much higher. Our bodies are violated and then our minds endure lasting trauma. We cannot build as a people under these conditions. Misogyny, sexism, and and their intersections are all learned. There is a dominant culture conditioning Black men to stand closer to allegiance with our oppressors than you stand to Black women. This behavior is learned and can be unlearned through the aforementioned process of deep listening.
As we learn about the harms of capitalism, food scarcity and prison slavery, Black men, we call for you to learn about gender based violence and the harms caused through rape, assault, harassment, mental and emotional abuse, manipulation, and murder. In addition to growing your politic of gender based violence, you have the responsibility to teach young men the same. Learn and teach them: to not rape, no matter the circumstances, ever.
Learn and teach them: the practice of asking consent. Learn and teach them: to seek value in more than beauty. Learn and teach them: to seek tribes of men who share this politic. Don’t wait to grow your understanding of gender based violence until yet another Black woman or girl is violated or killed. This is your mandate Black men.