Harvey Weinstein is outed. Women all over the world are revealing their abuse at his hands. Too soon after that, the criticism starts — not of the predator, but of his prey.
“Why didn’t she speak up?”
“Why did she go to to the hotel.”
“She must have wanted it.”
Someone eventually utters that ages-old excuse for misogyny, “they asked for it.”
Today, however, those words are the catalyst for a social media movement where #MeToo was born. The stories are from everyone and everywhere, and the black community is not exempt.
The #MeToo and #WOCAffirmation are both social media movements born out of a need to uplift the voices of the disenfranchised. Your job in this is not to argue with or criticize these voices. Just read and listen. That’s it. anything else is above your pay grade. I am splicing in another set of voices, the voices of black girls who have lost their innocence, to prove that the problem is not Hollywood. It’s our society. Weinstein is just one of a privileged group of predators who have been preying on young women and girls since time began. Here are there stories and mine.
When I wrote about the Georgetown Law study on Black girls, so many people sounded off. Not just mothers. Many women of color wrote to me telling stories from their own childhood. Here are some of the stories from women wanted to speak out, to let it be known that black mothers aren’t the only ones who weren’t surprised by the study results. Black women who were unprotected, unjustly punished, assaulted, and violated because of the stereotypes also could’ve told the researchers that black girls generally get cheated out of a childhood.
Here’s some stories.
At one point, I was the only black student at my school in the Poconos. I was used to having to prove myself to the locals. But once I established myself as a hard-working student who did well in school, I felt like it bought me some immunity from the racism that was rampant around me.
I had a guy friend that I knew since middle school. We hung out a bunch of times and I had even met his parents. It wasn’t until we graduated high school that he told me how his father felt about me. His words of advice to his son regarding me were, “Be careful. She might try to get pregnant and trap you. That’s what they do.” My eyes grew large. He thought that of me? I was a nerd without any sexual experience. I couldn’t fathom anyone thinking I would engage in entrapment.
Beginning at age 3, I was molested by a white uncle I lived with, who was 9 years older. My black father called child protective services, but no one believed him except my white mother, who didn’t intervene. I mentioned it to my maternal grandma during my teen years, and she said if anything had happened, it was my fault for being a flirt. I recently learned that as a child my aunt didn’t let me spend the night with my female cousins anymore because I was trying to teach them explicitly sexual acts. No one protected me.”
Right before my senior year of high school, my parents moved our family from VA to CT. I was constantly having problems in my rural high school due to racist teachers, and they feared I would not graduate. Once, I received in-school suspension for sounding off on a substitute who kept calling me “girl”, hoping to provoke me. Back then, I wished for parents that would advocate for me when I was being targeted by the predominately white, racist teaching staff. It is the primary reason I am so invested in my children’s educational experience today. Black girls are not only harassed in school, they are subject to unjust punishment when they react. As a former public school student and former teacher’s aide, I want parents to know teachers can be biased and teachers aren’t always right. Your children deserve to be heard, believed and protected.
I began taking public transportation alone in high school. My Mom, worried that I was too friendly, taught me to put on a non-smiling “face” so that strangers wouldn’t approach me. I still have what some people call “resting bitch face,” and that’s led to me being labeled with another stereotype — the angry black woman.The dangers of being sexualized and assumed to be a criminal were constantly around me (and my brothers). My parents’ fear led to a full schedule of “safe” activities so I wouldn’t have time to get into trouble. As a result, my college nickname was “white as the driven snow” (I’m very dark-skinned). The privileged white kids at my Ivy League university found it funny and hard to believe I’d never smoked weed or had sex. Black girls and women can’t win — we’re damned if we do, and shamed if we don’t.
I was a fast girl
I was nine years old and ran to the store to buy my mom some cigarettes. A man asked me my name, and I told him. I walked away, and he looked at me like I was food and hummed underneath his cigarette and beer breath.
The 12-year old hoe
At 12 years old people around my neighborhood thought I was a teen mom. I would take care of my little sister for my mother. I was called all kinds of hoes and bitches by everyone. Men assumed I was screwing and that gave them license to make sexual comments to a 12-year-old because they thought my little sister was my daughter. Older women saw the harassment and figured I deserved it because I was a hoe. They never asked if she was my daughter. They just wanted to demonize a girl. I took my little sister everywhere because I didn’t want her to go through the physical and mental abuse her dad did, and my mother let happen. I wanted my little sister to be what I couldn’t be. I wanted her to be happy and normal.
Bougie Black Girl
Mama gave him permission to take me to see Thomasina; a film about a little white girl with her kitty. Mama didn’t know him. He visited the daycare center where Mama worked and told the teachers he was looking to take kids on day trips for the local university. Mama wanted me to. have an opportunity. He took me to see Thomasina. I was nine. He bought popcorn and soda. He said I was pretty. The movie started. I drank my soda. I munched my popcorn. I looked at him. He was looking at me. His hands were in his pants. I watched Thomasina. He looked at me. I ate my popcorn. He made noises like he was getting ready to sneeze. He asked me for a napkin. I gave him one. His forehead was sweaty. He cleaned his hands. We watched Thomasina.
Melodie J. Rodgers
I know what the real definition of the word “grooming” is. It means wearing a girl down with acts that are just on this side of appropriate. If she told anybody, they would say, “ girl he wasn’t looking up your skirt when he insisted you sit across from him and play this game called ‘Stretches’. He was just trying to win over your momma.” Then, when his hands ventured too close to uncomfortable places or he insisted that he must intrude upon your bathing, it was still all a misunderstanding. When a dark figure creeps into your room in the middle of the night, hand over mouth so you can’t scream the other hand diminishing your childhood innocence with every motion, you kinda lose the will to tell and switch over to the will to survive. That’s what grooming does, it brushes away the pride and innocence and leaves only the primal. Primal is what the predators can work with.
My daughters join a host of women of color who have been victimized because of the stereotypes thrust upon us due to the color of our skin. These grown women can sit and tell you stories for days that uphold the findings of the Georgetown study. So could I. Raised to sit like ladies, we weren’t allowed to run about carelessly and play our own games. We learned to “sit pretty” knees tightly closed. “Don’t give them men any ideas.” We were not risk takers, because if anything ever went wrong, we were the ones punished. We were too “old for that” long before our childhood’s waned. And “too fast” long before we discovered what sexuality was.
Now you can see why, as mother, we stand and protect our girls’ childhood innocence as fiercely as we can. They don’t need to grow up too soon like we did.