Beyond the hashtag, do we really protect Black women?

Spoiler Alert: We don’t protect Black women like we should.

Spoiler Alert: we don’t.

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Today, Kodak Black plead guilty to first degree sexual assault and battery, according to WBTD.

Shortly after the news broke on Twitter, someone tweeted that we should “pray for Kodak.” Although people rightfully called out the post, it symbolized this sentiment that anti-rape activists fight against: protect the men accused of egregious acts of violence against girls and women.
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(SCREENSHOT: Twitter)
This sentiment is what empowers rape culture to thrive, which is why we must actively fight against it. Yet, in covert ways, people fight for rape culture, through their actions and comments. Take Kendrick Lamar for example. Lamar is lauded for his socially conscious music, which is a fair observation; he makes classic music.

However, when Spotify took down R. Kelly’s music, Lamar rushed to Kelly’s defense, threatening to take his own music down if they didn’t put R. Kelly’s music back on the platform. As a result, R. Kelly’s music is still up, and he is still reaping a profit from his highly questionable lyrics.

Like the tweet, Lamar’s actions are in support of rape culture. Instead of holding abusive men accountable, they “pray for them” and protect them. But what about the women these men are harming?

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It was on April 18, 2017 when I learned that “protect Black women” is a myth. I had just reported an assault, and my “friends,” my so-called “Day 1s,” took my abuser’s side. Their defense came in the tune of “but the system is going to hold him down as a Black man; why would you report him?”

While I agree that the system is set up against Black men, there must be some form of accountability for abusive Black men. That he was able to have his record wiped says something. That many of my “friends” took his side says something. That the case was dropped due to inadequate policing says something.
To the latter point, I want to say this: abolish the police.

​Oftentimes when we bring up abolition, police apologists will say, “What about the rapists and abusers? What will happen to them if we abolish the police?” Well, it will be the same as before – nothing will happen. After all, many abusers are in uniform. Moreover, justice for rape victims goes beyond policing.

While I marinated on the thought, I realize that the prison system cannot offer the justice I seek. Justice, for me, looks like reconciliation. It looks like my attacker taking responsibility for his actions. It looks like my alma mater implementing proper education on what to do when you are assaulted, teaching students how to not be rapists, and providing adequate resources (and recourse) for survivors.

There are endless possibilities on what “justice” means, and jail is not one of them. Nonetheless, accountability is. Going back to Kodak Black and Kendrick Lamar, I want to address this culture of silencing in Hip Hop that has affected women in the industry.
Previously, I reported on Dee Barnes’ experiences with domestic violence at the hands of Dr. Dre. This year, she went on the Wendy Williams show to talk about the incident and Williams asked her if Dr. Dre sexually assaulted Barnes. Barnes passed on the question, but her story reminds us that many women affiliated with Hip Hop have experienced abuse. Lil Kim is another example.

Many people comment on Lil Kim’s skin bleaching and nose surgery, but they neglect to acknowledge the colorism and abuse she faced. In 2000, she told Newsweek, “All my life men have told me I wasn’t pretty enough—even the men I was dating… It’s always been men putting me down just like my dad.”
Alas, colorism is just one of the issues that Kim has faced. In an interview with Hot 97, she noted that she was subjected to abuse at the hands of Biggie.

Barnes and Lil Kim have one thing in common: being Black women. When you look at the statistics, it seems that Black women experience violence at higher rates than other groups of women. According to Ayana Wallace, a training specialist at Ujima, Inc., “41% of Black women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetimes.”

In real life,
‘protect Black women’
oftentimes feels like
a catchy phrase
for Instagram captions,
rather than a practice
people actively participate in.

This was one of several statistics Wallace shared with me. Another showed that Black women are “11 times more likely to be murdered while pregnant” than White women. To Wallace, these startling data points show that “[S]urvivors aren’t being believed, supported, and protected in the ways in which they should be. And at the end of the day, Black women deserve care and respect, to be treated with kindness, and to be seen as having value.”

Wallace’s last point relates to a larger call to action: protect Black women. In real life, this oftentimes feels like a catchy phrase for Instagram captions, rather than a practice people actively participate in.

Wallace said, “I think getting connected and getting informed are the first steps to engaging in this work. There is an entire learning and unlearning process that will begin to happen with folks who are dedicated to supporting and protecting Black women and the Black community as a whole. A lot of self-work and reflections needs to happen.” ~

JAVANNA PLUMMER, RWEBEL IN CHIEF

Javanna is the editor of “Rwebel Magazine,” the architect behind “Rwebel Radio,” and the pioneering force of “Xscape.” Through her words, Javanna hopes to inspire creativity, passion and forward-thinking

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  • Javanna is the editor of "Rwebel Magazine," the architect behind "Rwebel Radio," and the pioneering force of "Xscape." Through her words, Javanna hopes to inspire creativity, passion, and forward-thinking.

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