Dear Black Man,
My last letter was spent acknowledging your glory and all you’re worth. It was constantly trying to understand and wrap my head around how someone so powerful could be so underestimated and feared.
It talked about systematic oppression and how you’re the definition of greatness. But since I can compliment you and praise the very ground you walk on, I can also call you out for making my fellow women and I uncomfortable by your mannerisms.
I’ve always heard stories of sexual assault in the Black household but it never was openly discussed until someone who kept the family together died. Sexual Assault has been going on in the Black household from the very beginning, whether it is that creepy uncle, your mother’s boyfriend or a “close family friend”, people treat it as something that just comes with the territory.
I am constantly uncomfortable and in fear of saying the wrong thing to you Black man because of the repercussions. I can’t voice my opinion, or my fear, or continue to not tell you my phone number because I don’t know what will happen to me next.
There have been many times where I was shook and had to appear as if I was okay. Had to greet you and show you that I wasn’t upset or angry so you wouldn’t try to do anything further. I had to give out a false number, ask how you were doing while I saw you looking at everything but my eyes and pretend like that didn’t bother me.
I sit in silence while you describe me in a vulgar manner that makes my skin crawl and do nothing. The luring, catcalling, whistling as If I am anything less than a queen is terrifying to me. No I don’t have those “clinch my purse and hold my head down so you won’t rob me” moments, I have those “let me pull my skirt down even if it’s below my knees,” “let my button my top button even if it’s hot,” “let me put a hoodie around my waist because I am wearing leggings today because I don’t want to cause any attention to myself,” moments. I even have the, “let me talk on the phone so they would think that I am too occupied to feed into their games today kind of fear,” moments.
I have that, “I want to tell my mother how uncomfortable her boyfriend makes me feel, but I don’t want him seeking revenge type of fear.” I have that, “you’re the same age as my grandfather why are you interested in me kind of fear.” I have that, “let me cross the street and walk in a different direction kind of fear.”
But I still love you, Black man, I am still rooting for you Black man, I am still in school trying to beat a system that doesn’t include you Black man, but where is that love in return? Where is that respect for my space, my comfort, my freedom? Where is that, “Hey Queen”? Not “AYO MA,” “YEEEEEEERRRD,” “PINK LEGGINGS!” Where is the respect for my body and everything that I stand for? Where is the respect that I am in school fighting for your betterment in society but I am constantly disrespected and called out of my name because “boys will be boys”?
Black men, If I continue to praise your greatness but leave out the parts where you fall short, we won’t win. If I continue to yell at the sky how I want to marry a Black man, but don’t correct you when you fail us, they won’t ever respect you.
I am committed to fighting for your life, your purpose and you as a whole. But this is all give and take. We as women are going to need more of you fighting for our greatness and not putting us down.
We will need more of you to appreciate the beauty of Black women and not sit here and discriminate against dark-skin women because that may not be your preference. Some women don’t like men with dreads but we aren’t dragging you up and down the Twitter timeline.
I am going to need more men to understand that the gift of a life wasn’t given to just the mother but to the father too. I need more Black men trying to defy odds themselves and open doors for the both of us and not be complacent with the little changes we’ve made thus far. This is an ever-changing battle, this is something that doesn’t end. We’re at war with this world, why do we need to be at war with each other? We love you, don’t you love us?
– Your Sis Yinde