My therapist often corrects herself. She will instinctively change girl to young woman for example when we are talking because she understands the power of words and how it can be offensive to use the wrong label for someone. This display of empathy is one of the many things I appreciate about her.
I can’t say I am surprised. Angry but not surprised. Breonna Taylor joins a near countless list of Black people denied justice. The tragedy is that the list is so long people become numbers, statistics used to make a point. But we must remember that she like so many others is still unique, a person whose story has been prematurely cut short.
Her case like many things in life became bigger than her. Something used to create tactless memes, sell t-shirts, drive voting registration and even promote baseless online seminars. With all that noise, it was easy to lose sight of the actual heinous crime that resulted in a 26 year old Black woman being gun downed in her own home. A Black woman was killed in her bed and the only charge is ‘wanton endangerment for firing into a neighbour’s apartment’???
An added layer of trauma comes from the fact her murderers were acquitted 65 years to the day Emmett Till’s murderers were also acquitted. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, I just wish this wasn’t at the expense of Black lives.
Again I can’t really say I am surprised, I don’t expect justice from a system never designed for us but I am disappointed because this is another slap in the face for Black women. To be the backbone and heartbeat of a society that continually scorns for your mere existence can’t be easy. It’s tough enough being Black without having to exist in a world that systematically oppresses you because of your gender as well.
And you don’t get any support from us, Black men I mean. We mistreat, disrespect and endanger you all the same. Which is absolutely insane when you think about it. Who rides harder for us, for everyone than Black women. They are at the heart of every protest against the unlawful arrest, imprisonment and death of Black men but when it is our turn to support our sisters, both cis and transgendered, we are no where to be seen. Even when our intentions are good and we aim to support we can fall short. We can’t just be good to Black women we find attractive and in describing them we have to stop saying things like they are “so strong”. It is a dehumanising insult that is dismissive of their feelings. They are only “so strong” because they have to be, because we have been so weak for so long.
We as Black men have to actively do the work on ourselves to kill our ego so that we can stand beside Black women and help dismantle the systems of racism and patriarchy (that we benefit from). We cannot continue to say “protect Black women” without action behind it. Without listening to Black women, not to respond but to understand. The conversations will be challenging, you will feel defensive and when you do lean into it and examine why.
I’m not saying anything revolutionary. In fact I am probably mansplaining because there are numerous Black woman out there that have already said this but if you take anything away from this message it is that we as Black men need to be better for ourselves and for Black women. We do that by becoming more empathetic. Put yourself in their actual shoes, not because you have a sister or a mother but because they are a person like you, like Breonna was, who deserves so much more than what they are currently receiving.
Peace and Love,
Aharoun the Author