A MESSAGE TO MY BROTHERS - SEXUAL HARASSMENT FROM WITHIN OUR GATES
POSTED NOV. 19TH, 2017 | BY RAMIRO ALEXANDER-DUCHESNE
It was James Baldwin who said, “To be [Black] in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” Although this statement is four decades old, it still holds true to this day.
Harassment In The Industry
Surely you’ve heard about the allegations against Harvey Weinstein. It’s infuriating enough to see how Weinstein is coddled and sent to “get help” after harassing and raping women, whereas Bill Cosby is actually facing charges. Disclaimer: right is right and wrong is wrong. If Cosby is guilty, let him face charges. But Weinstein should face those charges as well.
NewsOne recently posted a Tweet about Filmmaker John Singleton sexually harassing Danielle Young. Danielle Young, a Black journalist, briefly wrote about her experience at the American Black Film Festival, in Miami this past June, in an article that The Root published titled Don’t Let the Smile Fool You. I’m Cringing on the Inside.
The topic of Young’s article was sexual harassment, and although this article is primarily about the accusations against John Singleton, like Young’s article, this one goes deeper than that. In her article, Young talks about separate incidents with two very affluent men within the Black community.
In the article that Young wrote for The Root, she writes about her encounter with Reverend Jesse Jackson. After listening to one of his speeches, she was able to meet Jackson and take pictures with him. Young explains that as she approached Jackson, he scanned her body up and down undressing her with his eyes, which made her feel extremely uncomfortable.
Her discomfort did not stop there. Once close enough to Jackson, he grabbed her thigh and expressed his affinity for how thick her legs are. Young was naturally taken aback by Jackson’s blatant lack of respect. In the short time that Young stood next to Jackson, conversing and taking pictures, he continued to comment on her figure and make her even more uncomfortable.
If you believe that Young may be exaggerating, then take one look at the pictures in her article. Assuredly, your incredulity will be put to rest. Young looks so uncomfortable standing next to Jesse Jackson that even the reader is compelled to cringe.
Similarly, while attending the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), Young encountered even more sexual harassment. Young was seemingly fortunate enough to interview Black filmmaker John Singleton about his show Snowfall. Young knew that Singleton had commented on her figure as soon as she walked into the room but ignored him and pressed on.
During the interview, Young reached over to grab her microphone and was prevented when Singleton gripped her wrist. He commented on her frame and then kissed her on the cheek. Young later posted a picture with Singleton on her Instagram page where she jokingly admitted to his unwarranted sexual advances.
This is where it becomes difficult to be Black and conscious; when faced with certain issues of this nature. This situation presents us with a Black woman who has been sexually harassed by a Black man. So, as a Black intellect, what do you do? What do I do? Do I put a fellow Black man, as well as fellow Trojan -- Fight On! -- on blast, or do I ignore the claims of a Black woman who shouldn’t have been subjected to harassment in the first place?
As a Black intellect, the hardest pill to swallow is realizing that we can’t all be right. Any man, including Reverend Jesse Jackson and John Singleton, must be held accountable for sexually harassing women.
Jackson and Singleton are Black intellectuals. They, of all people, should understand that Black women are forced to endure their own special brand of discrimination. Black men, although we are discriminated against on many levels, have an advantage over Black women; we are men. And in our patriarchal society, being a man equates more opportunity.
It’s no mystery that women in general have faced discrimination as well. Where a man may be seen as assertive, a woman would be referred to as a derogatory expletive. And where a man may be able to joke in a certain manner with his peers of either sex, a woman has to tread lightly, consciously aware of everything she says. There are standards, most of them grotesquely double, that women have to adhere to in this still male-dominated society.
But with the discrimination that women are inundated with, no discrimination is worse than that against the Black woman. Even non-Black women, including non-Black women of color, have an advantage over Black women; they are not Black. The unique brand of discrimination that Black women face as aforementioned is known as intersectionality.
Intersectionality is a term that you may be familiar with. It references the crossroads where racial and gender discrimination meet and is uniquely inherent to our women.
Discrimination and Redemption in Hollywood
Are you familiar with the film Birth Of A Nation? Not the 2016 film written by and starring Nate Parker about the life of Nat Turner, but the 1915 debacle by D. W. Griffith. It’s an inflammatory piece of garbage that negatively and erroneously portrays Black people, particularly Black men as savage brutes lusting after the white woman.
As a direct rebuttal to Griffith’s film, Black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux produced his film, Within Our Gates. Micheaux’s film spoke to the Black woman’s plight. In his film, Micheaux focuses on a Black woman who suffers the gratuitous sexual advances of a white man. Micheaux’s piece of work brought to the forefront the notion of intersectionality.
Message To My Brothers
As Black men, we must protect our women. Our strong Black women are not in need of protection, seeing as my protector has always been my mother, but they deserve our protection. When we protect our Black women, despite having a relationship with them or not, we are vicariously protecting our mothers, wives, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, friends, etc. And in a world that is against Black women, they need our unconditional support and protection.
Black men, regardless of the fact that you are attracted to a Black woman, or any woman for that matter, make sure that she welcomes your sexual advances. If she seems uncomfortable, let it go.
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