Black Cisgendered Heterosexual Men Matter

Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter!

Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter!

Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter!

Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter!

Black Women’s Lives Matter…..

*****record scratches******

******crickets******

******DJ looks up*****

*****people in the party stop dancing******

 

Yes, I said Black Women’s Lives Matter and society’s reaction to that statement is an abrupt halt. The Ferguson train has been moving at the pace of TGV since August 9th, without any signs of stopping, well until we started to mention the black women victimized by police…

 

Sunday, April 26th there was a rally held in downtown Saint Louis to amplify the names of black women who have been killed and/or raped by police officers. The desire to incorporate black women into the conversation about police brutality, is not an act of division, it’s an act of inclusion. This was the first rally held to centralize black women here in Saint Louis. It has been long overdue. In comparison to past events, the turn out was typical. White allies were in attendance, kids, signs, banners, blowhorns, chants, cops, etc. Every thing was as it always is, minus one thing…. There were only six black men present. I wish I was exaggerating this number, but someone even walked around and counted to be sure. Six black men supporting black women. Even the police exceeded the amount of black men, there were approximately eight of them [policemen] standing behind us.

 

I’ll be honest, none of us were surprised. However, intellectually knowing that no one really capes for black women except black women, does not stop that fact from hurting. I saw so many tears yesterday, including my own. Most of these tears weren’t provoked by merely the absence of black men, but also by the abuse and exploitation of black women that has taken place for nine months straight.

 

I’ve personally witnessed, Netta, co-editor of the “This Is The Movement” newsletter being referred to as a “bitch” and body shamed by the same men that are supposedly protesting for “black lives”. Her work has been valuable in documenting these protests and keeping the nation updated. If these “activists” think that documenting our own movement, our own history is not essential, then I assure you they have no idea what the solution is to systematic racism; erasure is a part of the problem. Accurate recollection of the past is a piece of the puzzle. Yet, she is still dismissed as “irrelevant” by black male “activists” in this movement. We’re unheard when telling our stories.

 

I’ve witnessed Kay, a community organizer with Organization for Black Struggle being called “bitch” and “ugly” by the same men that have been labeled “leaders”. Her work has been valuable in organizing campaigns and placing pressure on the political leaders here in Saint Louis. We’re disrespected in the midst of our work.

 

My sister Bre was transparent about her experience in a black male dominated organization. She was community organizer for the organization, and she endured not only being silenced but her work being exploited. There was an expectation of her to follow their instructions, but her input was rarely considered with the same enthusiasm as her male counterparts in the organization. We’re constantly used and never heard.

 

My sisters Juliette and Sunny PLANNED and LED an action a while ago centered on raising awareness about mass incarcerations. A black man, who was not apart of their planning and organizing, showed up to THEIR action with his own blowhorn. He then proceeded to lead people off of the sidewalk and in to the streets, and essentially treated the march as if it was his own. We’ve endured hostile take overs in our own actions.

 

My sisters Britney and Alexis, two founders of Millennial Activists United, are disrespected daily not only for their status as women in the movement, but also because of their sexual orientation. MAU is one of the organizations responsible for many of the direct actions that take place (Black church, Black Brunch STL, Black Shul, Brentwood shutdown, Frontenac shutdown, just to name a few). Their work that keeps the movement going, has not stopped black cisgender heterosexual men from being violent towards them.

 

I’ve had my own experience with being silenced, my work disregarded, and being dehumanized when men in the movement get the message that I’m not there for their consumption. I’ll never forget an action back in October in which the men were having a heated discussion. They were trying to make a decision, and at some point, they asked us [black women], their “sistas” is what they called us, to give input on the decision. They said “what do the sistas think” and the moment one of us opened our mouths, they would go back to exchanging words with each other. This went on for 10 minutes straight. For ten minutes, a request was made of us that we could not fulfill over their loud exchanges with each other. It was not until finally, myself and another woman present, pointed out their hypocrisy to supposedly “hand us the mic” to speak, then speak over us. This is only one example of the many times that black women are constantly silenced in these “activist” spaces.

 

A black man, whose organization and actions, I’ve supported since August, disregarded my work. Any request he made for me to be present, I was there. Any fundraisers his organization started, I supported and reached out to others. I was even one of the people reaching out to donors to fundraise his bail. In January, I hosted a self-care event and the day of, he messaged me with his excuse for not attending. It was “I’m leaving town”. And the same man, went on a rant how “the real work doesn’t get funding”. In reference to funds and items I collected to implement the self care event, instead of donors sending to his organization. My work… Dismissed.

 

Honestly, I don’t even want to open up the can of worms that is “sexual harassment at the protest”. Just know that this is a daily experience for black women doing the work. Where there is a protest for “black lives matter”, there is a black woman being harassed, demeaned, or called “bitch” by a black man, simultaneously as these racist police call us [black women and black men] “animals”, “lynch mobs”, and “thugs”.

The straw that broke the camel’s back wasn’t the absence of black men, it was the response to our cries. There were tweets about the tears being shed, and one of our “brothers” took it upon himself to say “they crying but they didn’t show up to our stuff”, and he was specifically talking about a black unity event occurred about one week ago. I’m not exactly sure when this movement became a quid pro quo “you don’t show up to my event, I don’t show up to yours” deal for him, but it is this kind of ideology that will allow systematic racism to flourish. “I didn’t see you present one time, so I don’t care about you” is separation; that’s DIVISIVE thinking. Not only is this problematic thinking, but it is simply not factual. I distinctly remember when the flyer for the Black Unity event was launched (I wasn’t physically able to attend), I definitely help spread the word which is support. All imagery of this movement shows black women on the frontline. Not only are we physically present, but we support financially and amplify their actions. So why is this same love and support we’ve consistently given in the midst of sexist and homophobic violence, not being reciprocated? Why are we required to be strong and unconditional without expectation?

 

Why is it the same black men that request our silence about their abuse and exploitation for the sake of a “unified front”, won’t show up to one event for a “unified front”? How is it these same black men walk around with “Assata Taught Me” fail to “love and support”? That is our duty right?

 

And then this same black man, who went from calling us bitches, had the gall to say that he would lay down his life for us despite our disagreement. How can we believe you’ll lay down your life but you won’t even lay down your ego? That ego that made you say “well I didn’t see *****insert two black female protestors here****** at my event so I won’t go to an event centered on the black women that have been raped by Officer Daniel Holtzclaw”?

 

And this question extends beyond this one black man, how in the world can black women trust that ANYONE would “lay down their life” for us when they will not lay down their ego and incorporate us into the conversation about police brutality? You know, that ego that causes you to curse us out when you face rejection. That ego that causes you to bring your own blowhorn to our actions. That ego that causes you to make sure we are not heard. That ego that causes you to deflect and demean us, when you think black women in the movement are getting too much attention or too much support? You’ll “lay down your life” for a black woman, but won’t pick up a sign with a black woman’s name on it?

 

There’s more to this…. This isn’t just blatant disrespect from some of the male “leaders”, it’s the silence of the other men. Your silence is compliance. It’s also the cosigning of white allies that will witness black women endure PHYSICAL abuse and give excuses on behalf of black men. Yes, this happened. A black man got physical with a black woman, and a white “ally”, hit the black woman with “this is how I need to correct you for reacting to his violence”. Yes, this happened. This is a thing.

The fact that only black women show up in large droves for black women, sends the message to the world that we are the perfect victims. Our pain is invisible. Our voices are never heard. Our oppression is isolated. No one is talking about it. and when questioned, they have excuses. Excuses that parallel the apathetic racists that won’t support “Black Lives Matter”. “Why is it ‘Black Women Matter’?” The same reason you had to declare BLACK life. “Why do the women need an event?” The same way these apathetic white people denied that you were being gunned down, you’re denying that we’re being raped and killed right along with you, black men. The entire world knows Mike Brown, but very few know about Kimberlee King. In fact, when you try to research black women killed by police, some of them don’t even have a picture. Literally, unseen.

 

And the deepest cut with this erasure and neglect of black women in this movement? Knowing that essentially everything that pertains to it was built on our backs and our names. “Black Lives Matter” hashtag was started by three BLACK WOMEN. The frontline of Ferguson is predominantly held down by BLACK WOMEN. The “Assata Taught Me” hoodies were created by BLACK WOMEN. And of course, Assata, whose words and life have been inspiration for this resistance, is a BLACK WOMAN. It’s absolutely absurd that people are being hesitant, even aggressively and intentionally REFUSING, to uplift the names of BLACK WOMEN victimized by police, when we’re primarily the foundation of this movement that calls for police accountability.

 

But this post is not designed to be a rant, but a warning. Take heed. Using the same tools to oppress women that have been used to oppress you for your race, will guarantee that you will never have your freedom. You will continue to reap what you sow. The reality is until black women get free, NOBODY will get free.

 

And let’s be real, it’s not even liberation you seek but power.

 

 


Written and edited by Angel Carter, April 27th. All rights reserved. No reproduction of this work permitted without authorization. Contact angel65.tc@gmail.com for more information. © 2015 Angel Carter

Enjoyed my work? All support is appreciated. Send support via paypal to angel65.tc@gmail.com 🙂

 

 

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