Black Men, We Need to Show Up and Protect Our Black Women
What happened to Hip Hop artist Megan The Stallion is a tragedy in every sense of the word. And as American as pie or baseball is, so is misogyny. Speculation about what happened to Megan came to rest after she went on social media to finally discuss the shooting she endured by fellow Hip Hop artist, Tory Lanez. Make no mistake, the Hot Girl rapper was not ready to tell her story; instead, she was forced to combat the misogynistic men who questioned her. She was forced to defend herself from women who uphold misogyny through ignorance or only knowing the world they were born in. Megan was forced to stand up for herself after learning of the false accusations that Lanez's team continued to spread in the media. She was forced to speak out after seeing so many make fun of her pain. While Megan remained silent, she needed Black men to be vocal in our support but many of us failed.
It’s the “I need to hear both sides of the story,’” for me. Yes, watching a video of Megan limp out of a car, bloodied feet, shouting police officers, and a helicopter flying above her, was not enough for some who at the very least could not offer her well wishes and sympathy. I want to say, it is the celebrity-obsessed culture that we live in that had Tory fans side-eyeing what went down that night, but the singer only uses old 90’s R&B tracks for his songs, so I cannot say it is fandom that made excuses. Instead, it's the cycle that plagues our community on how Black men treat Black women. When Malcolm X famously said “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman,” I am sure it was to bring light and change to that statement, which was made in 1962. Now, in 2020, nothing seems to have changed.
Of course, the treatment of Black women by Black men did not start nor does it end with Megan and Tory. “A lot of Black men are just not hearing what Black women are saying because they are too busy complaining about their own situation,” Natalie Hopkinson, a professor at Howard University, said in a Washington Post article. “When it comes to really supporting Black women, nobody has our back but us.” It is easy to be offended by the word “complaining” that Hopkinson used, after all the world does look at Black men as untamed animals, as less than human. Police officers murder us in the streets, corporations overlook us for executive roles, we have a jail system designed to keep us in an ongoing cycle, we cannot be as vulnerable as we want to be at times, so on and so forth. The thing is, this isn’t any different than how the world treats our Black women. The only difference is, Black women empathize with our oppression and do not separate their oppression and struggle from ours, it is the reason why Megan’s first instinct was to protect Lanez, after he shot her!
Black women are the backbones of our society. From taking care of their slave master’s children to having their own family and keeping their households together. Black women are on the front lines for social and economic equality, often encouraging Black men to vote. Black women entrepreneurship and educational success continue to rise, even as Black single mother households are at an all-time high. Perhaps Black women are viewed as our superheroes, as our saviors - and in the end, they shouldn't have to be. Upholding Black women as our saviors only allow us to turn a blind eye when they don't feel like or have the energy to save us, but yet they continue to. Their outcry is met with side eyes, wondering “Why can't she handle it?” Black women should not have to be on their last limbs before we take notice. Black women show up time and time again, and it is time that we do the same before we see them reaching their wit's end.
I know it is unfair to generalize all Black men, but like my mother used to say “take what you can get out of it, and leave the rest.” Yes, there are those with public platforms who speak up for Black women, but it is the small things we do in our everyday lives to help Black women feel protected, long before we have our daughters or nieces come into this world. “I think Black men sleep on their power of simply speaking out. Check other Black men when you see foul things taking place, there is power in that,” model/producer, Kortlynn Jenae said when asked what would make her feel protected by Black men. “I will feel protected when Black men have that mindset on their own, and they choose to speak out on inappropriate behaviors.”
Black men, we must show up and hold each other accountable, and not just when eyes are watching. We show up by not attacking and spewing vitriol when there’s a disagreement. We show up by not perpetuating the myth of the angry Black woman. We show up by holding our health officials accountable when Black women say they are in pain. We show up and make noise knowing that Black women make 61 cents for every dollar their white male counterparts make. We show up by not forgetting that we are still fighting for justice for Breonna Taylor. Black men, it is time to show up.