Trigger Warning: Physical Assault.
Imagine that you are a 16 year old girl in a busy McDonalds with your cousins. Imagine that you are all that is standing between them and danger, when you look over and see a grown man verbally abusing them. With no thought for yourself, you step up to the plate and inform this man in no uncertain terms that he needs to check himself. Now is not the time for you to think about the language that you are using. You are direct and to the point. When he threatens to hit you if you swear again, you square your shoulders and call his bluff. Then the unthinkable happens. In front of his children and the family that you were protecting, he viciously physically assaults you. As you lie there unconscious no one but the little girl that you rushed to protect comes to your aid.....a busy packed McDonalds has just witnessed a grown black man repeatedly punch a young black woman, and no one, not a single person intervenes.
Though I have embedded this video, a more accurate one can be found here.
The police response, "these are tough times and I am sure that he was upset at something, and to have a little self restraint probably would have been a better idea. "
How many times are black women to be treated like this? How many times must our bodies bare the brunt of male violence and aggression? Black women have bled rivers of blood at the hands of men both black and white, and yet still no one can see this for crime that it truly is. Though the police are searching for him, how high of a priority is this case if they are already forming an excuse for his behaviour? Yeah the suspect was upset...
He was upset because a black woman had the nerve to stand up to him. He was upset because a black woman like so many before thwarted the rules of race and gender, and dared to address him as an equal. Violence is a real and ever present danger in the lives of WOC. That we continue to find the strength to fight back in the face of it, is a testimony to our strength.
- Globally, at least one in three women and girls is beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. (UN Commission on the Status of Women, 2/28/00)
- Among African American women in contemporary U.S. society, most rapes are intraracial, that is Black-on-Black assaults, rather than interracial, as is the case for most racial/ethnic groups, including White American women. Although Black women have been raped by strangers, more often their perpetrators were acquaintances and current or former intimates, such as cohabitating partners, dates, and boyfriends (Pierce-Baker, 1998; Robinson, 2002).
- The number one killer of African-American females, ages 15 to 34, was homicide at the hands of an intimate partner or ex-partner (Bureau of Health Statistics, 1994; Sullivan and Rumptz, 1994)
- Black women comprise 8% of the U.S. population, but account for 20% of the intimate partner homicide victims (Homicide Reports, 1976-1999)
- For every African-American/Black woman that reports her rape, at least 15 African American/Black women do not report theirs (Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, Hart & Rennison, 2003. U.S. Department of Justice)
- Approximately one in three African American women are abused by a husband or partner in the course of a lifetime, (US Department of Justice, Findings from the NVAWS, July 2000.
- African American females experience intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white females, and about 2.5 times the rate of women of other races, (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001)
- Approximately 40% of Black women report coercive contact of a sexual nature by age 18. (National Black Women’s Health Project)
- African Americans have the highest rate of violent victimization of any racial group (31.2 per 1000) (US department of Justice)
- Researchers have found disturbingly high rates of rape among impoverished Black women. As evidence, 42% of Black women residents in a low-income housing development had engaged in unwanted sex because a male partner had threatened or actually used force to obtain sexual access (Kalichman, Williams, Cherry, Belcher, & Nachimson, 1998). In a community sample, more than half (67%) of the low-income, welfare dependent Black women had experienced a previous sexual assault (Honeycutt, Marshall, & Weston, 2001). It appears that Black women recognize their vulnerability. In Wyatt's (1992) sample, the majority (76%) of African American survivors attributed their rape to the riskiness of their living situations (e.g., “I was living in a bad neighborhood”). For example, poor women may have jobs that demand long and inflexible hours or rely on public transportation, which requires them to travel through public housing or high crime areas at night.
This is daily what we open our eyes to every single morning, and yet we are routinely told don't get angry, don't you dare express rage, this is your lot in life. Our role is to be the social punching bag of all, and smile with pleasure with each fell of the proverbial lash. Thank you sir may I have another, is the fantasy of men when they see us, and for black women it is the soundtrack of a living nightmare from which there is no release.
That we continue to maintain our sanity in a society that views us as little more than prey is a testament to our inner fortitude. Inside though, in the dark places that we fear to visit, the pain is real and ever lasting. We cannot afford to publicly weep, we cannot afford to allow our bruises to see the light of day, for who will care and who will wail at the site of our brown bodies laid waste in the sun? There is much lip service to ending violence against women, there is much lip service to ending racism and yet daily the markers of racism and sexism are burned into our flesh; a living reminder that the world still views us as less than.
I dream of the mountaintop. I dream of the day when I shall grasp the hand of my sister and in the other the hand of my foremother with the knowledge that we have been redeemed. I dream of the day when the wind will no longer carry our song of anguish and the earth that our blood has nourished becomes fertile and lush. Such is the whim of my fantasy that in face of what can be deemed no less than calculated genocide, that I should look still look upon this earth with hope and love.