Often when I hop on Twitter, I find myself asking the same question: “what the f*** did I do this time?” It doesn’t take long for me to be on Twitter before I see Black women (and Black men too) talking about something Black men did or are continuing to do so undermine them. It’s…frustrating…and my initial reaction is to get defensive. I want to push back because when I see “Black men” I see myself and I start to feel targeted, like my support of Black women is getting overlooked. I think about my Black male peers and how they uplift Black women and I want to launch back at the idea of Black men somehow not doing enough for our women.
But I can’t. There’s just no way I can win that battle. But don’t break out the tiny violin for my plight just yet.
Because when Ayesha Curry sent her tweets about being “classy,” I saw Black men – the ashy, momma’s basement kind of self-hating Black man, but Black men nevertheless – do the whole “if you hoes dressed like Ayesha Curry, you’d get a man” thing. And I saw that one guy who tried to ruin a woman’s picture of her getting a diploma by showing that she was a stripper once. And the guy who hates stretch marks. Looking at this bevy of ignorant a$$ Black men on Twitter (and in the world) I can’t ask Black women not to be frustrated. No, these men don’t represent me and I’d like to hope they don’t represent anywhere near the majority of Black men. And while I’d love to see Black women annotate their frustration with “some” before Black men, I can’t police how Black women express the trauma they have to deal with.
In the f*cked up hierarchy of human importance in America, Black men have privilege over exactly one group of people: Black women. They’re subjugated and we have the power to subjugate them – and unfortunately some of us wield that power too often. So when Black women express their frustration, it’s not really productive for me to trumpet how I’m not like those guys. Me saying “but I’m a GOOD Black man!” isn’t much different from a cop or White guy yelling “but I’M not racist” every time racism gets brought up. That never helps the conversation and becomes more offensive as a result. Sure, it’s frustrating and inconvenient to hop on Twitter and hear how Black men need to do more, but I just have to tell myself that these women aren’t talking about me, offer my support, do what I can and shut the hell up sometimes.
Just last week, I asked a room full of Black women if they’d received unsolicited peen pics in their phone and every woman raised their hands. Then they explained how they were called b*tches for not being receptive. Look, if the trade-off for me not having to deal with that is having to read a few tweets about Black men that don’t even apply to me, then I’m okay with gritting my teeth and taking it without raising a fuss. I guess as a Black man, I need to maintain the confidence in my place as a supporter of Black women that I don’t feel attacked by Tweets and complaints that aren’t about me specifically in terms of my particular actions towards women. Even then, I have to admit that @Branfire’s tweets (he’s a Black man by the way) regarding Black men’s roles in Daniel Holtzclaw raping Black women struck such a chord with me…and obviously everyone else on Twitter.
For those who didn’t see, here was the first tweet that ignited the firestorm:
I think I get the sentiment, which he elaborated on here (of course, nobody saw the follow up because Twitter):
However, the way the tweet and subsequent conversation went, it seemed like there was a connection between the way Black men treat Black women and Daniel Holtzclaw’s decision to rape Black women. If you take the tweet at face value, you’d think the insinuation was that Holtzclaw was listening to Future and because the lyrics talk about b*tches and h*es he decided to rape Black women. Also, the tweet seems to follow the same rhetorical logic as “what about Black on Black crime?” – the idea that if Black people treat each other well then White people will just take the hint and follow suit. I doubt that if Holtzclaw thought “but Black men love Black women,” then he would have stopped raping or chosen someone else to rape.
On a macro level, though, the larger sentiment is inarguable: Black women need to be treated better and Black men need to do better at providing that extra care. When I look at Holtzclaw’s face after the verdict was announced, I see a guy who’s in disbelief that he was found guilty because he was so sure they were too expendable for him to be facing consequences for their lives. Unfortunately, for the most part, he’s not given a reason to believe otherwise. Overall, if the world is shown that Black women’s lives matter, too, then more men like Holtzclaw – and you have to believe that there are definitely men like him out there – will face justice or even think twice about who they target in the first place.
Yes, I get tired of seeing tweets and statuses about Black men’s shortcomings. But I have to come to accept that as a Black man, I’m part of an oppressive system that has subjugated Black women even if I myself never called them b*tches or failed to hold them up like I should. And until every single Black man treats every Black woman with respect then I’ll probably see comments about ashy Black men and their ignorance. And, really, compared to what Black women have to go through, that’s not that bad of a consequence. But my reaction can’t be to make women change how they express their feelings; instead I have to hold my brothers in line. I don’t know if doing so will prevent another Daniel Holtzclaw, but I can’t imagine anything bad coming out of simply treating Black women how they deserve to be treated.