BLACK ON BLACK
By Darryl James
Monday, April 6, 2009.
Now that I have your attention, you have to know that the title is far from the truth. At least it is for any sane person, but not for a growing number of Black women who are now using the R. Kelly acquittal to bolster their claim that Black men hate Black women.
Before I deal with that, let me tell you a story.
It was the mid-1990s and I was hanging out with Jermaine Dupri at the Santa Monica airport in California, where R & B group Jagged Edge was filming one of their videos.
It was summer time and the honeys were out in big numbers–legs, breasts and butt cleavage on display for all to see. These honeys were in line to be chosen for participation in the Jagged Edge video and what happened next stayed with me for a while.
Jermaine pointed to the line and said: “DJ, watch this, man.”
I watched as the young Black women in the line foisted breasts, hiked up skirts and exposed as much flesh as possible the closer they got to the front of the line.
I asked Jermaine if this was usual and he shook his head and replied: “It’s like this all the time.”
Over the years, I learned that such is the behavior of the so-called “Video Hoes,” who are painted by some as strong independent women and by others as victims of sexism.
While I always have problems with such labels as “Video Hoes,” I have an even bigger problem with blaming their behavior on sexism. Particularly knowing that their avocation is an unpaid one.
I have yet an even bigger problem when Black women pretend that the existence of “Video Hoes” is only at the behest of the Black men who make the music. It leaves so many people out of the loop.
It leaves out parents, educators, the media and of course, the women themselves who participate in the degradation of their own image and standing in society.
It also ignores the dichotomy of public opinion regarding music videos, music and sexism, which frankly draws a line down the middle of Black womanhood. Some Black women celebrate the sexual imagery in entertainment, while others decry it and blame it solely on Black men.
But, if Black women can not reach a consensus about crucial issues including sexism and misogyny, then how can anyone expect a consensus from Black men, particularly if they are only watching?
I guess I could have put the cape on and flew to the rescue of those poor “victims” at the Jagged Edge video, but anyone with half a brain knows that none of those women would have come with me to safety. In fact, I would have been laughed at and cursed out and possibly even assaulted.
So why do some Black women continue to blame Black men for any and everything that happens to any of them?
And why do some Black women claim that because Black women are subject to sexist views and sexist behavior it is only because Black men are failing to protect them or because Black men actually hate Black women?
Simple: Because it is the path of least resistance since anyone can say anything about Black men and very few will come to their defense.
I mean, really, we must ask ourselves: Has it been open season on Black women, or on Black people?
Now, back to R. Kelly.
I tried to stay out of the discussion about whether he was the man in the video and whether the young girl was a victim and whether he should be jailed, because, for me, the man deserved a trial before being convicted and punished.
Some people compare it to the OJ Simpson case and claim that African Americans don’t care if a Black person is guilty or not-they just want to see them go free.
That’s asinine. And it’s also a damned lie.
African Americans and Black folks in general are not so unsophisticated that they just want any famous Black person to go free simply because they are famous. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Black people who cheered for O.J Simpson did so because the “evidence” was not evidence at all. They cheered for his acquittal because whites with the same level of evidence had been acquitted. In fact, most Black people don’t really care about OJ, because they know he’s an idiot.
It’s just that we understand the justice system and if “they” can get off, so should we.
For example, there was and still is no moral outrage over filmmaker Roman Polanski, who admitted to raping an underage girl and then fled the country to evade prosecution. There are no extradition efforts and no outrage from women who want his art boycotted and/or to use him as an icon for the sexual abuse of women. Further, he was given a standing ovation at the Academy Awards a few years ago.
The people who cheered for R. Kelly understood that no matter how much people became emotionally involved, he could not be convicted simply because people wanted him to be convicted.
The tape was not evidence enough, as demonstrated in many cases involving police brutality caught on tape.
And the witnesses, including the alleged victim who swore she was not the person on the tape and the woman who stole from Kelly and admitted to extortion were not enough.
For all the crowing about Black men not protecting Black women, this case shows clearly that apparently many Black women aren’t willing to protect themselves, as evidenced by the cheering of Black women over Kelly’s acquittal.
What is also sad and very confusing is that in light of Black women’s failure to stand up for Black women, groups of Black women are still willing to give too much focus to chiding Black men about standing up for Black women.
WhatAboutOurDaughters.com, a site run by Black women, admitted that during the R. Kelly trial, it was Black women and not Black men who acted the most disturbing in their defense of R. Kelly.
Yet, the site has posted and is promoting a petition targeting Black men and their need to stand up for Black women by battling the exploitation of their daughters, sisters and wives.
Something is wrong with that. Where is the petition for Black women to stand up, or the petition for Black women to stop participating in their own exploitation?
It’s not that I am opposed to the protection of Black women. I just think it is a mistake to lay the burden of protection solely at the feet of Black men.
I also think it is a grave mistake to link the defense of Black women and girls to the allegedly unjust acquittal of one man. Leave R. Kelly alone, because there is nothing there.
We would do better to launch unified defense campaigns of Black women and girls, simply because it is the right thing to do. We should do so because we love and cherish Black women and girls and they should be defended.
It’s said that some people think we need an icon.
Why not go after all the media outlets that facilitate the soft porn of Black women?
Why not go after-and I know this won’t be popular-the very Black women who participate in and facilitate the destruction of Black women and girls?
And while we’re at it, why not go after the Black women who participate in and facilitate the destruction of Black men and boys?
Really-who’s hating whom?
I think that it is sad indeed that R Kelly’s case is being compared to the Mike Tyson rape conviction. In that case, I still maintain that Tyson was also a victim, not just the woman who allowed him to perform oral sex on her while menstruating and then emerged from a locked bathroom with a phone to continue engaging with her “attacker.”
Muddied and confusing. Do I think R Kelly is guilty?
The answer is: “Does it matter?”
I ask if it matters because out of all the positions that people hold, few want to take the position I hold, which is that if Kelly is to be held accountable, then other people, including the women who enabled him must be held accountable as well.
How about Sparkle, the young girl’s aunt, who allegedly served her up in order to get Kelly’s support for her own music career?
How about the girl’s parents who failed miserably as parents and had no idea what a freak their little girl had become? Why was a thirteen-year-old girl alone with a grown man? Why was she having sex like a Porn Star? Is all of that Kelly’s fault?
How about a society that allows and even encourages young girls to dress and act like adult hookers and then flashes righteous indignation when grown men look and interact with those young girls inappropriately?
There are plenty of young girls with super tight clothing pushing and pressing sexual flesh into the public eye and there is no moral outrage over it. In fact, when I wrote about it in this column, some ignorant asshead Feminatzis accused me of hating women and being a sexist for my own moral outrage.
You see, there are a lot of people who enable the abuse of Black women, including some Black women. It’s counterintuitive and counterproductive to lay the blame squarely at the feet of Black men or to ever claim that Black men fail to protect Black women and yet expect Black men to lead in the protection of anyone, when many members of that group fail to protect themselves.
It’s like Black people supporting the Wayans family, Martin Lawrence, Flavor Flav or many of the Buffoonish Black Coons of Comedy and rap sellouts who make Black people look bad on the world stage and then expecting white people to protect our image.
If you want respect, you must first respect yourself.
And, it’s difficult for Black women to make demands of Black men, when far too many Black women are far too willing to toss Black men under the bus for personal gain or for nothing at all.
This includes the proliferation of the Down Low myth, propagated by Black women more than anyone; the myth of more Black men being in prison than college and the ever-popular claim of Black men’s undying love and lust for white women. All popular myths that fall from the lips of Black women more than any other group of people in this nation.
The ignorant bag of crap J. L. King has recently released a DVD designed to educate people on how to recognize a Down Low Black man. Instead of challenging this asshole to do some real research or shut up, many Black women are passing his promotions around as though he is speaking from the Bible.
So, before we get to shaming Black men into standing up for Black women more than Black women are apparently willing to stand up for themselves, we must address the question of why too many Black women fail to stand up for their brothers, sons and husbands.
Really, we must ask ourselves: who’s hating whom?
Do Black women hate Black men?
We know that during the primary election, many Black women decided that it was in their best interests to support Senator Hillary Clinton because she was a woman, as opposed to supporting Senator Barack Obama because he was Black. So, if in fact the choice was made to assert womanhood over Blackness, doesn’t that also mean that the choice was made to assert their interests as women over the interests of their husbands, sons and brothers?
Take the case in point in California. Congresswoman Maxine Waters and LA County Supervisor Yvonne Burke both represent constituencies that were overwhelmingly pro-Obama, yet both decided to go sharply against their constituency and support Clinton.
Were they hating on Obama?
But, really, let’s go back to the R. Kelly case and examine some of the messages that came from it.
What we heard from many of the Black women who were outraged over Kelly’s acquittal is that Black men fail to protect Black women and girls, particularly from the oversexualization of modern entertainment.
But what we did not hear was that the same oversexualization of modern entertainment adversely affects Black men and boys. It’s as though having young Black boys growing up watching themselves marginalized as hungry sexual animals doesn’t do damage to their psyche or sense of self-worth.
Or it’s as though no one cares, because the focus has been on saving and/or protecting Black girls.
If Black women can challenge Black men to protect Black women and girls, then why is it wrong to challenge Black women to protect Black men and boys?
Why do people want to view the young girl in the R Kelly sex tape who was overly comfortable getting freaky with a grown man as a victim, but not the grown man who is sick enough to be sexually drawn to young girls?
Wasn’t R Kelly once a child? And if he is damaged, wasn’t he damaged as a young Black boy? Even if no one cares about him, what about other Black males like him?
I already know the answer. Damn the male, save the female. Really, we should be concerned about both males and females. But, sadly, we see far too much focus on the uplift of Black women and girls, as opposed to Black people.
For example, organizations such as Black Girls Rock exist to raise the self-esteem of Black girls, where we used to be concerned about the condition of all Black children. Why wasn’t the organization named Black Children Rock? And why is their propaganda only aimed at getting people to view Black girls in a different light?
Ashley Dunn, a board member of that organization draws a clear line in the sand.
“The type of education Black women and Black men have had about the importance of Black women has been pretty much non-existent, and what they have seen hasn’t been positive,” said Dunn. “With that in mind, why would anyone get upset about a Black girl being abused and urinated on? She was nothing anyway, and that is how both women and men feel in our community.”
Really? Are Black girls being abused and devalued or are Black children-male and female-being abused and devalued?
Where is the education about the importance of Black men? Isn’t much of what we see negative?
In nearly every corner, young Black boys are being devalued. They are told that they are destined to be gang members, drug dealers, prisoners above college students, harbingers of AIDS, lovers of white women and haters of Black women.
And, in efforts to protect Black women and girls, Black men and boys are typically thrown under the bus as the perpetrators of all things bad and absent from all things good in the Black community.
What the hell does that do to the psyche and self-esteem of Black boys?
Where is the outrage? Particularly since some of that anti-Black male propaganda comes from Black women?
If Black men and boys are doing so horribly in society, why then are there no Herculean efforts to save them?
And why are there so many Black women telling us how horrible we are?
We hear far too many stories of single Black mothers telling their Black male children that their destiny is to become the same kind of garbage as their father who abandoned them.
Talk to Black men who were educated in public schools and you will hear plentiful stories of how they were devalued by Black female educators.
I have one of my own.
Even though I had good grades, I was a discipline problem after the death of my stepfather, grandmother and brother all during my sophomore year in high school. I managed to pull things together by my senior year (thanks to some strong Black men who stepped in), yet the Black female college career counselor at my school tried to discourage me from going to college. She told me that I was not college material, that I would never amount to anything and that I should instead join the military.
Delivering such messages is abusive and devaluing.
The problem is that if we only focus on one side and not both, we end up tacitly diminishing the one side not given focus.
The question that must be asked is whether Black women actually hate Black men. Or we must at least ask whether they are concerned about the plight of their brothers, sons and husbands.
With thanks to Black Men in America, where this piece first appeared.
Darryl James is an award-winning author of the forthcoming powerful anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Discounted Autographed and Numbered Pre-Release copies can be ordered at www.darryljames.com.
He released his first mini-movie, “Crack,” and this year, will release his first full-length documentary. View previous installments of this column at www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com You can reach James at firstname.lastname@example.org