So, some of you may have got the reference of the title of this piece, and if not, then I can’t help you. But I want to talk about one of the dark aspects of our American society, its intertwining with racism, and why it has yet to be defeated.
| Darkness Preys on the Weak
Child molestation. Sexual abuse. Rape. These are things that happen to the weakest of our society, to the strongest in the limelight. But it is a dark and terrible thing that no one should suffer.
I’ve watched the effects of child molestation and how it can poison and rob your future. I’ve seen how it can take you off the path, and hold you back. I’ve cried very real tears seeing cherished women fall victim to being all too willing to subjugate themselves to men; simply because a man or two, or three took their power from them in some way, and they didn’t know how to take it back. I’ve seen the aftereffects of a man who was molested and he never recovered, taking to a life of drugs and poisonous escape as a result, even poisoning the future of his only son as he treads down a similar path.
That is what sexual abuse and the like are. The robbing of power from an individual. And it happens to children. It happens to teenagers, older people, etc.
Darkness isn’t fickle; it will take whom it can, but it will pull in the least powerful of us. It will break the most brittle, and twist the feeblest.
I have thankfully not been a victim of rape, but I have been sexually assaulted. And #metoo is something I firmly believe in. Because any of us can be victims.
But all of us can overcome.
| Culture of Cowardice
When children are raped, molested, and otherwise sexually abused, they need positive reinforcement. They need support, love and validation. They need to feel safe and protected and like they matter.
But our culture has supported keeping these suffering children in the shadows. The effects are to be complicit with the robbing of the power of these children. Their abusers are often allowed to skirt punishment, and often times aren't even reported to authorities. Now we can break this down further to include the prejudice of the criminal justice system against people of color(who get vastly harsher sentences), contrasted with how often Caucasian perpetrators get no jail time for the SAME OFFENSES, or how there are tens of thousands of untested rape kits, but even as a black man, today is not the day for me to discuss that angle of this problem, as a discussion into our broken and slanted criminal justice system warrants a separate conversation in itself, so I digress.
We as a society do not stand up for our cherished ones. The saddest part is, that we can suffer the same damned transgressions and actually tell our kids, our women, our vulnerable, that what atrocity befell us is okay and to not talk about it. We don’t defend our weak. We don’t protect what we love. People are so obsessed with maintaining a facsimile of normalcy that they destroy those who look up to us.
I spent my childhood around women who were victims of sexual molestation. My Great-Great Grandmother was raped by a white man; and then her kid(my Great Grandmother) quietly provided for(for a while) to keep her quiet. I have cousins(some male)who were molested. The point is, sexual abuse is a very prominent and I’ve been surrounded by it. I’ve seen its effects. I’ve felt its touch. And it’s an elephant in the room because no one has the courage to do anything about it.
As a grown man, I have been sexually assaulted. I’ve felt the empty, uncomfortable feeling as your voice is taken, even if for a moment, and I’ve felt that feeling of insignificance. A woman can abuse the same as a man, and no matter who abused you or how, you have a right to feel loved and protected, you have a right to have your voice respected. Consent is something people don’t tend to understand unless they are female or victims, and it shouldn't be that way. The main reason why sexual abuse is so permeated in our society is because we are collectively maintaining the status-quo, which is cowardice at a societal level.
| America’s Favorite Pasttime
I mean, this goes back to slavery. Black Women are easily the most assailed entity on Earth.
And I'm sincere in that. Let me just tell you what my mom told me at the age of 6; "You're black in America. That's one strike. You're a black man. That's two strikes. Don't let them give you the third strike." That mortified me. It literally taught me that I couldn't make a mistake; that I already was two-thirds the way to death or jail.
But for as true as that is, even now, almost especially now, in 2018, Black Women have it worse. Being a Black Woman deserves a special classification of soldier in the Armed Forces, as you must be trained to resist all manner of attacks and defend your fellow black woman and black man. You're expected to be strong and unwavering, even though you face DOUBLE the prejudice, the prejudice against women, and the prejudice of being black. Oh, and not only are you perceived bossy, aggressive and hyper-sexual, but you're also assumed less intelligent, less educated, and poorly raised by your white female peers. In fact, white women have been terrorizing black women in the workplace since forever, and it started before women were even allowed to work, as it started in the cotton fields.
It’s no accident that this country's troubling and egregiously long history of sexual abuse coincides with its dark history of institutionalized racism and bigotry. White plantation owners would sometimes 'breed' female slaves to save the costs of buying new ones, whilst sexually abusing them. White plantation owner wives would often steal away the most strapping of black male slaves to taste that 'negro Johnson (dick)'.
Now this might be enough to show you my point, but it goes much deeper than that; sexual abuse is almost always about power. So those plantation white women might be seeking more capably endowed lovers, sure, but they also likely were making up for their own lack of power in the white hierarchy, which then, objectified and denied women true status. So even though it may seem like just a lustful thing, it still boils down to taking power from someone.
The men were worse. Black women who were unlucky enough to catch the eye of Massa' were subjugated to rape, sexual torture and even murder and mutilation. And this wasn't just Massa' it was also his sons and other male members of the household. Sexual abuse was a blunt and brutal tool used to maintain control and further break the black family and black identity. And white women, powerless in their own way, used sex to still feel like they had power too, as it was easier to exert power over some dumb negro, than to tell your husband that you deserve better.
This mindset of white women sacrificing others to maintain a guaranteed niche in the white man's societal structure, still exists today, evidenced by the 53 percent of white women who voted for Donald "women who have abortions should be punished" Trump President of the United States. But at the feet of those 53 percent, are black women who are somehow represented by a feminist movement that never included them. Hence why black women have it harder than anyone else.
Sexual Abuse and white privilege and racism often intersect. America has used these things to fuel its darkest inclinations in its history, and it continues to do so.
| Victims Aren't Empowered
We keep victims of sexual assault in a corner, we force them to compartmentalize their emotions and triggers and we force them to live in the shadow of their abuse, and often, their abuser. We don't empower them to come forward, to heal, or to be free. This is why #metoo matters so much; people, male and female need to be empowered to tell their stories, to seek healing and vindication, free from bias, hate and judgement, until all can be revealed.
People (mostly white men), question #metoo, and it often runs along the lines of "we can’t believe every accusation", and "anyone can be falsely accused" whilst ignoring the fact that less than 10% of allegations are proven false.
Let me tell you something. Almost every woman you've ever known has been a victim of some form of sexual abuse, rape, molestation, or sexual assault. Or a combination thereof. When you act as if women's voices can be drown out by the few men who might be falsely accused(yes, it’s bad, and yes it’s a problem, but it’s not as big a problem when men themselves are much more likely to be a victim of a sexual crime than falsely accused of one), then you're part of the problem. Stop finding excuses to take away the voices of women and other real victims to make yourself feel safe. Your perceived safety isn’t more important than helping and empowering real victims.
We need to start utilizing a balance of support with patience. Every accusation isn't automatically true, but that doesn't mean we assume them false from jump. Every woman doesn't deserve to be a victim, or deserve to be minimized. #metoo is about stepping out of the shadows. #metoo is about stopping the practice of taking and denying power and instead growing power.
| We Don’t Deal With Mental Illness
Sexual crimes often lead the victims to anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts or other metal disorder. We as a society tend to treat people with mental illness or defect as 'negative' and write them off because we don't want to deal with people at their weak points. As I’ve written before, we can cherry pick with true love, and the whole of a person is their weakness plus their successes, failures, and strengths. We can't love a person until they have an anxiety attack, we can't "be there" until they tell you they wanted to kill themselves.
People are often just not equipped to deal with mental illness. That is why I try to tell people to be a safe place. How do you do that? You use your S.O.U.L.
S - Support
Support can vary in type, but it always involves you being a little uncomfortable to support a person. Being available is the best thing you can do. Being consistent pairs with that. We aren’t always able to answer the phone or meet up, but consistency means you respond, you call back, you reschedule. Support can be just your presence when others don't show up. SHOW UP.
O - Ownership
Own your support. Own your role in their life. Own your love for them. Don't half do your support. Take ownership of, not their issues, but of your place. Acknowledge your choice to be there for them and acknowledge their choices. Don’t take away their choice because you disagree. That is not something you need own. Get it?
U - Understand
Understand their point of view. Empathy goes a long way. Sure, you might not know what it feels like to be suicidal, but can you think about how if your life were any different how you might be? Can you put the person's circumstances in perspective and understand the pressure they might feel? If you can or not, you have to understand that perception is the first thing you lose to mental illness. Sure, it might not be as bad as you fear, but your anxiety and depression might keep you from seeing it. Understand that a solution clear for you might not be clear to them, and you must support accordingly. Also, understand that guilt tripping and shaming mentally ill people or recovering sex crime victims is not ever going to work. If a rape victim wants to kill themselves, telling them they have other people to live for is a wrong move. You might be right, but the reason they want to kill themselves often has little care for the people in their lives, and it’s not because they are selfish, but because they are tired and worn out. Or it could be something else. Hence, why you listen.
Unconditional love is about loving a person because they simply exist. Loving based on who they are and not what they do. As I always say, if you can attach a need to your love, you're loving wrong.
Don't love people with contingencies. Don't give love with expectation. Love is selfless and pure. Love unconditionally and everything else, the 'SOUL' will come naturally.
Listen to them. Hear their story. Listening is a virtue for a reason, talking is not. Don't ever tell sex crime victims how they should feel. Doing so is toxic.
| Let’s Unravel the Power Structure
We have to start unraveling sexual abuse from racism, but we have to start by letting #metoo grow. Let’s listen, love, and support victims. We can can’t keep ostracizing people just because they hurt. We need to take ownership of the need to stop making people suffering from mental illness feel unsafe. Be a safe place. Uplift victims, and let us start supporting our black women, who have went through so much, and go unrepresented in the fight for women's rights. Fellow black men, let us stand with our black women and let us make them feel like they don't carry the weight of the world any longer.
And white people, I don't hate you or think all of you are bad. But if you understand, as best you can, the black struggle, use your privilege to speak out against your fellow whites who still utilize the mindset of the days of slavery and Jim Crow. We can be better, by taking care of our victims, and not making them feel unwanted or less than.
Let's stop living in this Pastime Paradise.