Why do I have to say that black girls matter? Why do I have to make a separate hashtag? It’s the fact that black women’s lives are disregarded even in our own community. It’s the fact that a boycott against R. Kelly and wanting to hold him accountable for the twenty years (and still going) worth of allegations against him has received backlash from other black people. It’s the fact that Kenneka Jenkins was raped and murdered but the first thing other black people did was harass her friends but not the men suspected of raping her. It’s the fact that black people made jokes and memes about her death. It’s the fact that pictures of her dead body were passed around all over social media like it was entertainment by other black people.
Black girls are sexualized from a young age. We call little girls “fast” for their bodies developing as if they have any control over it. I remember my first time being stared down by grown men was around the age of ten or eleven. I didn’t ask for that. We call little girls “grown” for receiving attention from grown men while never confronting those grown men about it. I knew girls in school who had relationships with adults, no one batted an eye. My mother grew up with girls who had relationships with adults, no one batted an eye. There were boys in our school who were sexually assaulting and harassing girls. Explicit videos and pictures of girls were often distributed. Nothing was done about it. We figured it had to be the girl’s fault. She probably deserved it. And when things like that happened to me, I got the same response.
Another example, Chris Brown. Chris has abused Rihanna and he has been accused of abusing his ex-girlfriend, Karreuche. She even has a restraining order against him. But, he’s still making music and he’s still touring. Black people defend him. I’ve heard, “oh well, Rihanna hit him first.”. “Well that was back in 2009.”, ignoring the fact that he was accused of abusing Karreuche. The rapper, XX (I don’t care about him enough to type out his whole name) was accused of beating up his girlfriend. Everyone’s defense is that she lied on him and some other people did it, but who really knows? All I know is people were quick to make memes about her being beat up, the same way people made jokes about Rihanna. Because it’s a big joke to people for some reason.
We’ve conditioned ourselves to coddle and protect black men even when they hurt black women. We know that racism is a real issue that affects many of them, but misogyny is an issue that affects many black women. Misogyny is dangerous and it has hurt black women. It’s time to start calling it out.