Why I am So Thankful for the Sacrifices that Black Folks are Making to Fight Sexual Violence

It stings.  It burns. It hurts like hell.  You will never forget the pain.  All wounds must be thoroughly cleaned in order to effectively heal.
When I was a kid I cut my left knee on a metal sliding board.
I remember screaming like somebody sliced my knee off.  The gash was no bigger than a dime, but I was one of those kind of girls. Intense and dramatic.
My cousin Mavis* moved into action.
Peroxide. Ointment. And band aids.
But I was all, “What are you doing?  Where is my mommy? I don’t want nobody to touch it.”
 
Mavis was so cool.  She made me laugh by showing me that when the peroxide hit my cut it created white bubbles.
I laughed, “Yeah, that was kinda neat.”
That memory is special to me.  Of course Mavis grew up to be a registered nurse.
Still have that scar. Vividly remember that pain.  The compassion.  And the lesson.
In life, when we are wounded, even though it hurts, there must be a cleansing process.  That is the only way that we can effectively heal.
A war that ain’t even civil
 
Yeah, we have been battling over this Cosby issue on social media, at the cookouts, in the pews, at the shop, and everywhere.
We are fine until that one relative says, “But why they do Bill Cosby like that?”
It is on.
Unfortunately, we have found ourselves in a battle over one television personality as if he is the father of all black people.  That isn’t our fault.  But it is what it is.
Even more unfortunately, the fight is public.  I know what that feels like.  Uncomfortable, shameful, embarrassing, heartbreaking, and angering.

And now comes the Ebony Cover.  I am thankful for it.

Why Is this light on?
 
These issues must come into the light to be discussed.
The surprise of my life is that my Mama taught me that lesson.
The way that she was raised in order to survive.  I mean like live to see another day survive. One kept sins a secrets.
Didn’t matter whose sins they were.  Just hush your mouth child.
The worst trouble I could get in was if I broke that golden rule.  Keep your business out the streets. 
So about sexual violence, she taught us to tell.  Yes.  But that ‘hush up’ spirit would not turn her loose.
So her pitch about “tell me if anybody touches you….” Just wasn’t all that convincing.
But that was how she was raised. And in the early 1970’s when she had her three children, there were no books giving good guidance on this conversation.
Lord, I put our business in the streets
 
At 13 I told the family about my tragic experience of being raped by people my mother trusted to care for us while she worked and went to school.
 I didn’t mean for it to be that dramatic. (I’ll tell y’all about it another time.)
 
When I brought the secret into the light, BOOM!
My mother. My family.  There was disruption and chaos.  Black folks don’t operate this way.
But that years long conflict led to genuine healing. My mother now encourages & inspires my activism.
Black folks are ahead of this issue
 
Mainstream communities and movements have not been as courageous as we are required to be in this moment.
Quite a few communities have one famous person/celebrity that has been exposed as having a problem with sexual violence.
Yet, mainstream communities are not boldly taking oo one another like this. They are not willing to directly challenge someone whom they have crowned as a “legend”, or a “voice”.
They just ride out the social media storm and go back to business as usual.  Put on their shades and get lost in the crowd.

I know that there is real heart of the issue on their behalf, but selective activism isn’t very effective activism.

But here we are.  We are confronting the struggle. We are having the conflict.  We are doing this.
Christian vs. Christian. (Pulling out scriptures, sermons, and what each other’s pastor said)
 
Men vs. Women. (In the same household)
Gen X vs. Baby Boomers  (Sigh…same household too.)
“Cosby” fans vs. “Fresh Prince” fans vs. “Carmichael” fans
It gets rough. You have to come with it. If you are the fragile and weepy sort, this is not for you.
But as long as there is mutual respect, this is all good.
Conflict and struggle is necessary to the process of growth.
This is the part that stings.  That burns.  But is necessary.
We the black community are taking a stand against sexual violence.  The majority of the victims that have come forth to share their stories about being raped and/or drugged by Bill Cosby are not even black women.
Yet, here we are.
They wouldn’t do this for us!
We know.

Now, some would. A good little number too. Just not enough to make a ripple three times in a row in a puddle.

Men and Women of Color who do this work have been gravely disappointed.
Going back generations, though.
 When we see others who do this work or claim to be about equality and such, give awards, accolades, magazine covers and interviews and other sparkling platforms to people who in nearly the same position as Bill Cosby we feel disappointment, disdain, and disgust.
We are vocal about it. If you aren’t in this mix, you probably don’t hear about it.
We continue this work because we aren’t doing their work. We never were.
We work for people who are in pain.  We work to prevent pain.  People of all shades and hues.
That is our purpose and passion.  Most of us happen to be damn good at what we do.
Perhaps that explains why we are here, now.
The quality of the work of generations of people of color bravely toiling to heal and prevent injuries that are inflicted to our community by way of sexual violence.
But what about…
Them.
Yes. I have been so disappointed though not surprised to see experts change the definition of rape and abuse in defense of celebrities and entertainers.
When I hear ‘experts’ do verbal yoga to twist stuff to defend the vile and disgusting behavior of white famous people I become hot enough to fry something.
If we mention one name, some people play a game of destruction.  They yell out a black celebrity like…. R Kelly.
R Kelly didn’t go to jail, but he certainly doesn’t enjoy the flourishing career that his white counterparts do.
On the other hand, Woody Allen is an award winning, celebrated entertainer who just made a deal with Amazon.
Organizations that do this work have not taken the lead when it comes to certain celebrities.
Advocates and activists have been silent.  Yet everyone is vocal about black celebrities and sexual violence.  I get it. You are absolutely correct.
Lessons
 
Some people will talk. Some people will look down upon our culture.  But those people had that mess scheduled on their calendar anyway? Proceed.
We might as well gain the lessons from this tragedy and lift us up where we belong.
We are not the only communities harshly impacted by sexual violence, but our falls can be the hardest.  Our comebacks, are rare and difficult to arrive at.
The Cosby Show is now in syndication.  Bill Cosby will have to answer for his own choices, whatever they were. We all know he believes in personal accountability.
As for us in our homes and communities, we have work to do.
As we move forward with this struggle we will continue doing the hard work of our elders and ancestors.  We will build upon their wisdom.  We will match answers with questions. We will find solutions.
Families can be stronger not because of a what is seen on the outside, but because of who we really are behind closed doors. Folks who protect men, women, and children from rape and abuse.  And we are folks who make certain that we have knowledge about how to do that.
We make real and genuine healing a priority.   People who were violated in the worst ways can be built up to love others with their whole being.
We seek justice and accountability because safety, respect, and innocence, are sacred.
Communities can be stronger.  People will not be allowed to come into communities and tear them apart with their evil as they rape and abuse victim after victim.
It stings.  It burns. It hurts like hell.  You will never forget the pain.  
 
All wounds must be thoroughly cleaned in order to effectively heal.
Tonya GJ Prince
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Tonya GJ Prince

Tonya is a Social Justice Info Expert with over 23 years experience. She holds a BS in Organizational Management & Development. Her cat MiaBelle is her co-writer.
Tonya GJ Prince
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