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Tory Lanez is another symptom of systemic violence against Black women

Tory Lanez is another symptom of systemic violence against Black women

Tory Lanez is another symptom of systemic violence against Black women
November 05
17:00 2020

When you think about privilege, you usually don’t think of a Black man. As a minority and disenfranchised part of the community, we’ve all come to realize—hopefully, that is— that due to a gap in privilege Black men don’t experience reality in the same way white men do. However, more often than not do we forget the people who sit at the intersection of two disenfranchised parts of society. Such is the fate of the Black woman, plagued with racism and misogyny.

There is a stereotype that Black men are gifted with the superhuman ability to rise above trauma, and despite being beaten and are somehow better off after being beaten and battered. These dangerous thoughts have left them unprotected and unappreciated. We forget the Black women killed by the police, the ones killed by the doctors — the women right under nose who aren’t our mothers — who die from the abusers we protect.

We forget about the women who we aren’t attracted to and the ones ostracized by a system that awards whiteness and deems her unfeminine. Such failure is truly apparent in the ongoing debate about the morality of the Megan thee Stallion and Tory Lanez incident that occurred this summer.

Nonetheless, the conversation is one that demonstrates the use of male privilege and the way Black men have weaponized it against Black women around them. Black women are 2.5 times more likely to be murdered by men than white women. They are at higher risk for sexual abuse and are killed by the police at higher rates than white women. Megan’s assault commanded the attention of many Black men across the world. All of a sudden, it became necessary to know “both sides.” It became necessary to find some sort of justification for the reason such violence could have been enacted.

The rhetoric in these types of conversations mimics a big portion of the dialogue enacted by white men and women at the assault and murder of a Black man. Too many times have I read, “well what did he do?” captioned over the photo of an unarmed Black man being assaulted in the street by a power-hungry police officer. Far too often have I seen this same flawed logic applied to Black women. There are recognizable patterns and there is a refusal to acknowledge them. The truth of victim-blaming is it is a type of rhetoric usually enforced from a place of privilege. By refusing to acknowledge one’s social or structural power over another you, you are justifying the consequences of one’s life being out of their control. You justify the mistreatment of those who are disenfranchised.

The Black men who are spewing this type of speech are internalizing and projecting lessons, perhaps from white men. People often claim to want freedom from oppression and, in actuality, desire the role of the oppressor. Liberation would require equality despite our differences, a lesson that we still have not learned as of yet. Megan’s assault left a bitter taste in my mouth. It reminded me not only of the refusal to acknowledge Black women being harmed outside the Black community but a refusal to acknowledge the continual violence that harms them inside of it as well. More often than not Black men claim that Black women’s femininity and sexuality offer them some kind of protection from the harsh reality that Black men have to go through. And to that, we must realize the comparison of the statistics of Black women with men in the first place completely undermines the point.

Socially, Black women are often reminded by Black men that they do not face as much danger as their male counterparts. However, this ignores the fact that, compared to other women, Black women often face a higher risk of danger. The comparison only goes to prove Black women aren’t deemed feminine by societal standards. Their sexuality doesn’t allow the same privilege that white women have. Black women are so hypersexualized, the idea of complexities and nuance in their personalities fall to the wayside. If white women are Mother Mary, Black women are the “Jezebel.”

From biblical times to now, whether imagined or real, these expressions are not tolerated in women. They often elicit rude remarks about deserving disrespect or disdain. It is this culture that perceives young Black girls as older and more mature, and thus tempting and well-deserving of any potential harm. It is this culture that asks, “what did she do?” to deserve it because Black women are often seen as aggressive and abrasive. These stereotypes do reside in Black men as well, but their expressions, as problematic as they might be, are often accepted because they align with masculine values.

In that alignment, we find some kind of praise and acceptance for following tradition. Black women do not have this luxury. They are told they are strong and as true as that might be, they are just as human as the rest of us. The violence that Megan faced despite being headline news for months is truly nothing new. Though it is being treated as a rarity, the scary part is it happens every day in the places we often look but ignore.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Davion Smith

Davion Smith

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