By: Ja’Loni Owens
The way in which Black women’s bodies are treated should disgust people way more than it does. The way in which Black women’s lives are marginalized should anger people way more than it does. The hypersexualization of Black women’s bodies should terrify people way more than it does. But it doesn’t. I never fully understood why no one has responded to the cries of Black women until this year.
The experiences of Black women do not concern and draw a reaction from others in the same way experiences of other disenfranchised peoples do because of the standard Black women are held to. Black women are not allowed to be depressed, to have anxiety, to be afraid, to make noise, or to fight for herself.
Black women are and always have been the backbone of the Black liberation movement, yet you never see the photos of Black women being lynched. You never see Black women in the marches. You only learn about the Black male leaders in school. Black Lives Matter is the product of three Black WOMEN, but how many people know that? We have pioneered the Black liberation movement, but we are also excluded from it.
Black women ARE the movement. The hips babies rode on when slaves escaped their plantations, the hands children held as they joined Dr. King in the March on Washington, and the mothers of children who are buried before they are. Black women ALWAYS fight for liberation of our Black men, yet we are never given time to mourn and we are never allowed to express our pain.
We are expected to suffer in silence. We are expected to bend over backwards and never break. We have to tell White America to stop killing our Black boys, while our Black boys simultaneously reject us for “snow bunnies” and White men try to domesticate us so they can act on their fetishization of us.
Black girls in my high school are victims of this problematic, harmful belief system perpetrated against Black girls & women. One girl spent two years of her high school career in pain, but she was never allowed to fully express this pain. When she did gather the courage to go through the chain of command and search for a solution, she was shut down.
My high school security office shut her down. This girl was the target of sexual harassment, threats, and bullying, but my high school security office would not protect her. The security office dismissed her and disregarded her concerns and blamed her and stole not only her happiness but both her freshman and sophomore years of high school.
“Boys will be boys”, You know how they are”, “He always does this, don’t worry” is the response this girl was given every single time, as if it was HER who was the perpetrator. She shouldn’t be so “easily bothered”. This is just how Black women bodies are treated. Black women’s bodies are always under-protected. When men attempt to claim our bodies as if we are acres of land, no one fights for us. No one fought for a 14 girl being sexually harassed, bullied, and threatened everyday.
However, when we are accused of being the aggressor the response is totally different. When we are the supposed aggressor, we are over-policed and criminalized. A White male reported that this same Black girl was talking about him and that she “looked at him funny”. Without any proof or affirmation of these claims from another classmate, this girl was called into the security office.
She was forced to sign a document stating that if she so much as looks at that other student, she will be suspended for a minimum of three days. Where was this proactive response when she was being sexually harassed? Seniors, practically adults, were spreading rumors about this girl preforming sexual favors for them for money or rides to school, but the security office did nothing except giggle at her and say “boys will be boys”. Girls would threaten her everyday and it was this girl who has forced into a mediation, which by the way is NOT protocol for bullying.
But again, Black women aren’t allowed to hurt. This is engrained so deeply into our society that this girl forgets that people do want to hear her. She has spent years being told she does not matter and shown that her body is an object for sexual attraction and not respect.
Black women have birthed revolutions, broken barriers, and fought for our people. Our people need to fight for us. This girl and every other Black woman are told that we are not allowed to raise our voice. Once we do, we’re angry and we’re bitchy. Well, in my opinion that girl has every right to be angry. Black women have every right to be angry. We have centuries of reasons to be angry.