I thought about when it would be a good time to speak on the matter. I did not anticipate the death of another black woman and daughter predicting that time-frame.
Photograph by Clarke Sanders
The conversation about protecting Black Women has been trending for the last couple of months. I thought about when it would be a good time to speak on the matter. I did not anticipate the death of another black woman and daughter predicting that time-frame. Last Sunday evening I was speaking to my boyfriend like we do every night. We exchanged our “I love you” before ending the call. Not even ten minutes went by before he was calling me back. I figured maybe it was by accident or he forgot to tell me something but instead he said “I just got the craziest news”. If you have witnessed or experienced a series of unfortunate events throughout your lifetime then you already know anything preceding a statement like that is filled with misery.
“Kadeem’s baby mother was killed”. Naturally I was confused and once I made sense of what he said I asked “Who told you that?” Just two weeks ago they were celebrating the gender reveal of their baby girl and now she’s not here? He sent me the source so I could confirm for myself. I wish what I saw was not true but there it was “A Mother-to-Be Killed in Columbia” with her glamour shot sitting below the header. The two did not belong together. This is not what beauty in pain is supposed to look like.
On June 22nd, BeBe took a bullet to the head while sitting in her bedroom. Their home was shot up by someone who does not understand the value of life. Part of me wanted to write it off that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time but when did our homes become the wrong place to be? Then again if we look at Atatiana Jefferson and Botham Jean we learned our home is no safer than a grave. Their three month premature baby was fighting for her life preceding her mother’s fatality just to be welcomed into Heaven’s gates a few days later by her mother.
My relationship was not with BeBe but Kadeem however her death struck me like any kin of my own. Was it the thought of losing a significant other bringing up my own fear that losing my boyfriend could be a reality? Or it could have been the deep love I know Kadeem had for her that if there was a choice it would be his life instead of hers? Maybe it was the hope that baby Ahja’s life would be the pillow to soften the fall? It is all of that and more!
What was supposed to be a new beginning for them changed forever within a matter of seconds. Really think about the essence of time. An incident that can occur within seconds literally can determine what the years to follow can be. It was the same amount of seconds to communicate an arrest that would have saved Breonna. It was the same amount of seconds to let Sandra off with a warning because a failed turn signal should never constitute life or death. It was the same seconds to realize Korryn was mentally ill and required special intervention to deescalate an intense situation. 60 seconds has taken the lives of so many black women and without protection it will continue to take more. The media only reports on the information they feel is important and apparently black women have been disposable to societal standards. Luckily if it was not for spaces like this their names would have been buried along with the silence of their bodies. #Sayhername
When I think about BeBe’s life we all had a responsibility in protecting her. Kin or not, sister or not, friend or not, she was someone deserving of the same love, protection, and most importantly the same energy of life she emitted into the world. We may not know who is responsible for this tragedy but one thing I do know is that they came from a woman. That alone should carry weight to have compassion for the life of one.
Telling others to protect Black Women should not be a trend but an unspoken rule for anyone with a sense of decency. The world “preys” on us before they will “praise” for us. When we hit our teenage years we are seen as “Black Women”. Boys will be boys but black little girls can never be just that. Black women, we are in a category of our own even though we are the creators of life and existence. Unfortunately, we are also the last to be saved if being saved is even an option.
If only all black women were loved like the mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and sisters who raised us. The energy that if someone cracked a “yo momma” joke that things would get serious real fast because no one was allowed to disrespect your mother. If you grew up in or around the streets even you know you would never find an OG behind the trigger of a gun towards a woman because the streets knew women and children were off limits. It does not matter if she is half clothed, if WAP is her anthem, if she cusses you out from morning to night. There is always a level of respect that should exist and if that is too much then leaving in peace is always an option.
My objective is not to compare hardships between black women and black men but having black men, white men, white women and any other person willing to put their biases aside to acknowledge that there is a difference. For change to begin acknowledgement of that change needs to exist by those who are responsible to correct it. We are not asking for a knight in shining armor as we play the damsel in distress. For our black men be the rib which we were made from and cherish us like the rest of your body. That is not to be taken out of context as we are your property but the union we were created to share. Please do not just show up in the midst of dark but love us when the skies are blue too.
I saw a Facebook post last week asking a group of black women do they feel that being called a strong black woman is a compliment. I never thought about that question until it was posed. The majority said no including me. I could not commit to the idea of being a strong black woman since it has begun to be misconstrued that our strength is our only saving grace. I am capable of being strong without having to symbolized as a strong black woman just like I’m entitled to being angry without having to be the angry black woman. Once my race and gender is followed by an adjective I lose all sense of individuality and all concerns I’m expressing become null and void. Being a strong black woman has been manipulated to create this faux ideology that we can overcome all barriers. There is a significant difference between barriers and psychological survival. Historically black women have been raped, sexualized, abused, criticized, abandoned and more. It is easy to rule those traumas as life barriers but these are all acts placed upon us by others without any conscious of the generational hurt it would inflict. If we speak up we are playing victim but if we are silent we are strong. How about facing trauma with “strength” and lack of healing is really just the ability to survive? Being a strong black woman is a fascination that others have imposed on black women in their absence of our protection. BeBe, Sandra, Atatiana, and Korryn were all strong women who happened to be black and still that was not enough to save their lives.
"If we speak up we are playing victim but if we are silent we are strong."
A part of the world hates us so much that if we are not careful we subconsciously consume their negativity in belief it must be true. That hate perpetuates on to our decedents because they are the reminder of who we are or envy of who we wish to be. This conditioning of self-destruct goes as far back as the women suffrage movement, career industries, political arenas, medical treatment, and the list goes on. We even have to factor in wearing our natural hair during an interview just to avoid being labeled as unkempt. Society ups the antics by strategically placing colorism in the mix. We do not want to be oppressed within our complexion because somewhere down the bloodline our ancestor was forced upon by their master. There is nothing exotic about rape.
For my black women I want you to understand that I make an effort to give out as many compliments to us as I can. I promote and support our businesses. I will pretend to know you for years in order to pass your resume along. I do not engage in conversations bashing any black woman regardless of what she did or did not do. I will fix your crown in public so you know someone is looking out for you. I love us because I am my sister’s keeper therefore her live resonates with mine.
For my black men I need you to understand we are not your sanctuaries or home for restoration. We do not have to be understanding and forgiving every time for the sake of peace. Our anger is not hate against black men but a calling for you to carry your weight too. Monetizing your contributions does not replace the emotional support that we need as well. Do not mistreat us as if we are inhumane because that trauma is rooted from plantations that have no burial. Allow your own heart to break and sit captive in your own healing to create room for you to see protecting black women isn’t an option. Protecting black women is a necessity to preserving our race, culture, and history.
Photograph by Brit