Our world seems to be upside down right now. As if COVID-19 and the norm, as we knew it, coming to a screeching halt, we now have to face the harsh truth that racism is and always has been present. The country, the world, watched the life of an unarmed black man take his last breath at the hands of a white police officer. Protests and riots demanding that justice be served. The conversations are starting. The removal of statues and monuments have exposed the deep down thoughts and opinions about our system and history. But why does it even matter that George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, or Oscar Grant were black men and women? Why does it matter that they died at the hands of white police officers? Because they were murdered for no other reason that for the color of their skin by someone who deep down didn't think they deserved to live. I submit to you that hatred is a learned behavior and it's roots run deep. The sad reality many people of color face is that there are people in the world that see me as a threat simply because of the skin I was born in.
But I guess you ask, what does that have to do with rape and sexual violence? I'm glad you asked. The rape of black women is not new. Unfortunately, it's history is rather long and painful. Rape in and of itself is not new. Rape and even how we deal with it or don't for that matter, go back to the Bible. There are three accounts that I can think of.
Jacob's Daughter Dinah - Genesis 34
A Levite's Concubine - Judges 19
David's Daughter Tamar - II Samuel 13
In each of these instances those closets to them sought revenge for their rapes. However, the biggest difference between these women and women of color today is once they were raped they could never marry. But still, how does this all tie into women of color? A good part of me believes that many of the characters of the Bible are people of color. From the same continent these women were raped, women and men were taken to be slaves here in the U.S. Enslaved women of color were raped by their white slave masters. Afterwards, when they were left to raise the children that were conceived by these heinous acts, who could they tell? If they told their husbands, what could he do, after all he to was under the same slave owner? How did she heal? How did she cope with the reality that every time she looks into the eyes of her child she is reminded of what happened to her?
Slavery as we know it has ended, she has her "freedom" but she's broken. She's bruised only to have more children who have children who in turn have children and when it happens to one of them, how does she help her to cope and heal? She teaches her children and their children and their children's children the only way she knows -- just deal with it, move on forget about it, most importantly don’t tell anyone. Can you now see why it's so hard for black women to come forward, not just to report it but to get help and healing? It’s never been the norm in black culture because what goes on in my house stays in my house. Daddy’s, uncles and big cousins told young victims that it was there little secret and to not tell anyone. But what has that cost us? How many secrets are we carrying that slow eat away at our soul?
Too many to name. I am so glad that in 2020 so many of us have stopped subscribing to the coping skills that have been passed down to us. We've stopped simply moving on and stopped subscribing to the school of thought that what happens in our house stays in our house, even if it's robing us of a better life and peace. I am so proud to see women of color come forward and not only get help but have the courage to say it happened.
We have a long history of unhealthy coping skills. How do we break the silence?
Continue to speak up and out - even when it's painful. Speaking it takes your power back
Encourage other women to speak up and out - my childhood pastor would always say "Silence gives consent". If we remain silent, the world and perpetrates get the false sense of security that this doesn't happen anymore or she will never tell.
Teach our daughters that it's never ok and they can tell us anything. We will come to their defense.
Always, always, always remember that this was not your fault and we place the blame where it belongs
To the women of color who have come forward, be proud of yourself it wasn't easy to do.