For myself and the Black men who will read this and instinctively get defensive or want to deflect — from Ezinne’s confrontational, but heartfelt charges of the Black woman “being the most disrespected, un-protected and neglected person in America” — DON’T.
These statements, unfortunately and painstakingly, do ring true. There is certainly instances and degrees of complicity in this inhumane treatment towards our complement and it needs to be called out. And we need to decide whether we are doing enough or even doing our part to defend the humanity of Black women.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say that this comes with a great deal of risk, boldness, fortitude, and selflessness. Hey! it is what it is. It also may come with giving up that male privilege to do what is right. The institution of whiteness and its androcentric qualities are so layered in all its complexities that it can’t be solved sparingly, incrementally, or judiciously. Its all or nothing and we have to espouse a collective mindset around it. And it starts from within: yourself, the home, and out in the community.
That said I have challenged the authorities both in the private and in the public sphere. I will only share one instance. In my white collar world of experience I have taken the bold and imprudent course of action to stop and defend the casual verbal assault about something very trivial to which this senior officer of the company proceeded finger point and wave scoldingly (by at her like a child when she is older than both of us and deserves respect nonetheless)at a Black woman. I did not formally know her in the office nor did I need to. It not only came as a shock to the white senior (one of many we report to), it came as a shock to her as well. I explained to him that your actions are inappropriate and demeaning to her and surely you can find a better way to express yourself in a manner similar to the way I have seen you do to others in the office. Not only is it selectively rash on your part but demeaning to her as a person. He quickly apologized, gathered himself and then apologized to her. 😕 She looked at me and nodded her head as if this would be the last time she would see me working there again. That hurt me more than the abuse she appeared to have routinely internalized.
I was not fired but some retaliation of course was impending. I was slighted in in a combination of ways via nitpicking of what was quality work in the past, by lack of acknowledgement, by passed up promotion, and with my bonus. But whenever he did come in contact with her, he did show her respect. Several months later she thanked me. I told her that her gratitude is not necessary I am supposed to do that, and I am sure he violated some workplace policies.
I shared this story with my male peers, black, white and in between, they had a hard time digesting it because they thought that I was simply lucky to still be around, but they acknowledged and knew deep down inside that it was the right thing to do.
I read an article written by Dr. Kristian H published by the Huffington Post that put things into even more perspective and hopefully it sheds additional light on how we can collectively drive change. Here are just a few key takeaways…
Dismantling this is going to be hard. But here are some things you can do. Listen to Black women and don’t call us aggressive or combative when we tell you about our experiences. Acknowledge our pain, and use your privilege to help us dismantle it. Don’t allow people to talk derogatorily about women in your presence. Treat people you date with dignity and respect. This means do not cheat, lie, or steal. Be honest and impeccable with your word. And check your friends when you see them slipping.
A Woman's Response To 'Straight Black Men Are The White People Of Black People'
"I was Black. I was female. And I was out - out - by any construct wherever the power lay." ― Audre Lorde Two days ago…
Although the problem seems so damn daunting, when as a Black man you face these seemingly insurmountable obstacles in your own right, at least it should give you peace of mind that you are not complicit in its systemic callousness.
Stay blessed Ezinne.