Facts and Opinions

Am I Next?: How many more will go through what Uyinene went through?

TRIGGER WARNING:

I’ve been logged out of social media for a little bit so I was a little out of the loop on some things that have happened recently. Going through the normal bar bathroom selfies, inspirational quotes, and random rants, one story made me furious. It made me grow angry with each word that I read. I’m tired. I’m tired of seeing stories like this. I’m tired of slowly being desensitized by these stories because they happen so often. I’m tired of being fearful for the people that I know. I’m tired of begging my friends to put their locations on so I can check and make sure they’re where they are supposed to be going. I’m tired of carrying around mace because I don’t know if some lunatic is going to randomly feel enticed to tackle me to the ground and assault me. I had thought of carrying around a taser, but they aren’t legal in Illinois. I do plan to carry a pocket knife with me at some point. I shouldn’t have to do that! No one should have to do that! I should be able to get to my destination safely with no interference. Anyways, I could get stuck on this topic for days, but I’m going to get on to the point of this article.

Uyinene Mrwetyana. Uyinene; a South African name meaning gift of God. Reading about her I got a chance to get a glimpse of her personality. She seemed intelligent, warm, and widely loved. Her skin was so radiant and that smile…her smile was captivating. She was just nineteen years old, making strides and efforts towards living her dream. She attended the University of Cape Town. She was a film student. Who knows, we could’ve seen one of her films on the big screen one day. Well, that won’t happen. We may never get to see her creativity in motion. We may never get to see her artistry. Uyinene Mrwetyana was raped and killed by being hit in the head with a scale by 42 year old Luyanda Botha (allegedly) inside a post office. She went there to get a package, and the man told her to come back later. She was said to be missing August 30th. That’s when he brutally attacked her. I was scrolling through her Instagram and nearly cried. She was beautiful…my God she was so beautiful. The man’s trial is set for November 5th according to The South African. He seemed to have no remorse in regards to what he did. I really hope he rots in prison.

The hashtag #AmINextProtest has been trending. People carry signs through the streets of South Africa pleading with people to stop killing their peers and loved ones. South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, addressed the nation Thursday, admitting that there is an uproar of sexual violence against women. He proposed numerous ideas to try and combat this issue. Will these proposals be enough though? Words are just words…they are nothing without action.

Women in South Africa are at risk for being attacked. According to Al Jazeera, a woman is murdered every three hours. Rape is just as rampant. In a 1994 journal by S. Armstrong, it goes into how rape is the assertion of male power. Under apartheid, rape of white women was the only rape that mattered; they found black women rape to just be apart of the struggle. In the journal, it also states that one out of four women have been sexually assaulted before the age of fourteen. These numbers are on the rise…more and more women are going through this treachery.

Will it be me? Will I be the next one to die? Will a situation like this be my fateful demise? Will it be my best friend’s? My Mother’s? My aunt’s? My future daughter’s? I couldn’t fathom sitting at home waiting for my baby girl to come home…only to have the police approach me, telling me that she’s been bludgeoned and raped to death. So many people are apart of the “sexual assault club” and frankly, I don’t want any new members. I think back to my experience, and I thank the Lord that I am still alive, because I didn’t have to be. I’m starting to lose faith in humanity. I’m thinking that there will never be change. And if there is, things will get a lot worse before it gets better.

Uyinene could’ve been me. It could’ve been anyone. So…who’s next?

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Facts and Opinions

A 12 Year Old Black Boy Is Still A Child

In the black community, a twelve year old is seen as grown. Tamir Rice was that very age when he was gunned down by the police in 2014 for playing with a toy gun. A 12-year-old black girl in New York was told to remove her clothing by the police because they thought that she had drugs on her person. Black children grow up much faster than they’re supposed to, and we can attribute that to how society depicts us. We’re aggressive, loud, and unruly individuals. Black boys are just being bred to be gang members and drug dealers, while young girls are fast; growing up to just be unwed Mothers. I don’t know how many times I was told not to be “fast” growing up by my parents, grandparents, and other adults in my life. Since when does wearing shorts constitute that I suddenly had an affinity for grown men? I understand now that they were saying this to warn me and keep me safe.

This notion has stuck with us ever since we were brought over as slaves in the 1700s; black men and women just being okay with whatever happens to their bodies, as if they were some type of doll; a possession. What angers me is the fact that our people are feeding into these lies, and are inflicting pain because of them. On this blog, I talk quite a bit about sexual assault. As a black woman who has been through my share, I know that it has a long lasting affect on a person. The amount of pain, anger, confusion, and frustration that one goes through is almost unbearable. I have literally thrown up over the stories that I have heard of black women who have been inappropriately touched by older men. Some women were as old as six being touched on by men ten times their senior. As we uplift the black queens that have endured this misconduct, we have to remember that this is the case for black men who have been through rape and sexual assault as well.

We must uplift them too, and listen to their stories. Almost every male that I have spoken to has told me some sort of story about them being sexual with a woman much older than he while they were under the age of 17 or 18. It doesn’t matter how old the person looks, if they are under the age of 18, they are not of legal age to consent to anything sexual. Hell, they aren’t really of legal age to consent to anything. Recently, a 21-year-old woman was confronted by her friends because she was having sexual relations with a 12-year-old. Not only did she do that, but she documented it on her phone, and gave the boy an STD (and you best believe that she knew she had it). One of the friends had let this woman into her home and shared it with her. She had the audacity to betray her trust and rape her friend’s little cousin. I wanted to kind of highlight the reasons why she engaged in this behavior with the young man. She claims that this boy was coming on to her and touching on her, and that’s how the incident started. I want to say that this is complete and utter bullshit…pardon my language. Even if the little boy did all of that, you didn’t have to have sex with him! Push him away and use it as a teaching moment, and if he’s being aggressive, tell someone about it. Tell him that what he was doing was not okay. Don’t indulge. Do you have no self control? I agree with the woman in the video telling her off. That was no excuse, she’s just trying to play victim. In an Instagram live that the boy’s cousin was giving, she said that the rapist mentioned that he started to look good to her after awhile. This woman also said that the rapist also claimed that it was more exciting to do something that was illegal. She thought that it was thrilling. She bragged that she was having sex with him…get this…four to five times a day! A day! For two weeks. This woman recorded their sexual encounters. She even sent them to a friend. You see, pedophiles are not just creepy white men in their late fifties with salt and pepper beards and cargo shorts, they can be young, attractive black women.

There were men in the comments section of the video saluting this young man, saying what had happened to him was not that bad. They think that a young boy having sex with an older woman is some type of prize that they should take pride in; like a badge of courage. A close family member of mine was nine years old when he lost his virginity to an 18-year-old. His brother, who was 12 years older than him allowed it to happen. He actually set it up. This person is one of the most intelligent people that I have ever met, and even he couldn’t see that what had happened to him was rape. This little boy was raped; there isn’t any other way that you can spin it. In our culture, we are brainwashed to think that black boys aren’t as affected by sexual assault as we are because wanting to have sex is in their nature. This whole scenario (without the disease) is seen as a fantasy. In a YouTube video, Lil Wayne was detailing how he lost his virginity at the age of 11 to a grown woman. The people in the room were laughing as he retold the story, but there was nothing funny about anything that he said. DeRay Davis in a VladTV interview said that he was raped as a little boy by two grown women in their thirties. He tried to make a joke about it, but again…there’s nothing funny. And you can’t forget R.Kelly. Robert Kelly…where do I begin? He stated that he had been sexually abused by a family member from the time he was seven or eight to 14 or 15. I know one of those abusers was his older sister, and someone probably abused her, and so on and so forth.

Going back to the essay that I wrote on child sexual abuse, the psychological effects that this young man may have will be brutal. This child could grow to resent women. He could shut down from physical contact all together. He could go the opposite route and engage in reckless sexual activity, putting himself and others in danger. He could exhibit severe emotional issues later on in life. He could show symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Sex may be distorted because of this situation. There is so much that this little boy could be going through. As a future psychiatrist (I am speaking it into existence) it is my mission to help people; guiding them out of guilt and shame from something that they didn’t even do. Like the little boy in the video, most of these boys are touched by a family friend. Most of them are assaulted between the ages of nine and 13.

Just because the person has a penis, it doesn’t mean that person is always the aggressor. Being raped is not a way of entering manhood; that happens naturally. If a 13 year old girl was raped by a 23-year-old, does that now make her a woman? No, it doesn’t does it? Why is it any different for a man? Tommy J. Curry of Texas A&M knows all too well about this subject. In his book, The Man-Not: Race, Class and Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood, he goes into the lack of victim hood that black boys experience in terms of sexual assault. “The hyper-masculinity of the Black male brute resonates in the minds of observers and theorists as a denial of his sexual victimization and rape by women.” You can rape a man. Men aren’t just these sex crazed animals, they have boundaries as well. Like I stated earlier, even in our community, black boys are not seen as children. They are seen as brutes, savages…even monsters, just because of their race and the way they look.

The woman who raped this 12-year-old boy will not have it easy in life. Not only is she a rapist, but she’s a sex offender. The crimes that she committed can result in a few legal charges; statutory rape, child pornography, and attempted murder for the STD (I think). This woman is a predator and she needs psychological help. Talk to your sons. Talk to your brothers. Let them know that older women preying on them is not okay. Hear their stories and don’t ignore your friends when they tell you about their traumatic sexual encounters. Let them know that you support them and are sorry that those women did those things to them at such a tender age. Black men, don’t suppress your pain and bury it, it will only fester and explode in your face in the long run. Protect yourselves; your bodies, your minds, your spirits. Please get the help that you need. It’s alright to get help. It’s okay to reach out for guidance. You deserve to heal just like everybody else.

Video posted below:

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Facts and Opinions

What, to the American Slave, is your Fourth of July?

There are countless pictures of me taken on the Fourth of July. They’re probably somewhere in the attic buried under old blankets and clothes that I can’t fit anymore. I’m standing in front of my house, holding a few American flags, the gap in my tooth looking bigger than I remembered it to be. Since I am naturally an “extra” person, I gave Uncle Sam a run for his money. I was covered in red, white, and blue. I was the human form of the American flag. At that age, I didn’t realize that the “holiday” that I was celebrating was not a representative of me or my people. Some call today, July 4th, Independence Day. I’ll give a brief history, but I’m pretty sure everyone knows it by now. If you’re American, it was shoved into our brains as soon as we started school.

July 2nd, 1776, the Congress voted in favor for independence from the British. Two days later, July 4th for those who can’t count, delegates from the thirteen colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson. Since then, people have been celebrating by firing up the grill and lighting up their fireworks. I cringe when I think about my star spangled ass running around the family barbecue. Now, it makes me cringe when I see people…my people…wearing red, white, and blue, wishing others a Happy Fourth. I just want to grab a hold of their shoulders and say, “THIS HOLIDAY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU!!! YOU KNOW THAT RIGHT!?!?!?”

On July 5th, statesmen, writer, orator, social reformist, and of course, abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, delivered one of his most known speeches to date, “What To The Slave Is The Fourth of July?” It goes as follows:

“What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?…

I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn…

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.”

Let me give a rough summation of what he’s saying; how the hell does this have anything to do with me and my people? This independence is for you white sons of guns and not me. I’m sure Mr. Douglass’s explanation would be a lot more complex, but hopefully now you get the picture if you didn’t take the time to read all of Frederick Douglass’s speech. Let’s think about the current problems that are taking place today. The government is literally losing children in their custody; separating them from their families and having them lay on tin foil to keep warm. I mean you see it all over your Twitter feed, it’s not like it isn’t happening. They are literally in cages. Black people are still being shot down like it’s deer season. People are still being denied basic human rights. Black people and people of color are still looked at as second class citizens. Black people were not freed until 1865, and even after that, we are still being degraded due to our looks, but it seems like every little white girl from California is trying to tan as much as possible to get that bronze look, and plumping their lips up with filler.

I’ve kind of strayed from the topic at had a little bit, but all I’m saying is that my fellow black people! This day is not for us. We aren’t celebrating our freedom, we are reveling in our enslavement. The day has passed, but if you want to celebrate “freedom,” celebrate Juneteeth (June 19th). June 19th, 1965 was the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas, as well as the emancipation of slavery through the confederate states of America. That day is also my birthday, so I especially hold that day near and dear to my heart. There are so many people who share the same skin tone as me who saw this past June 19th as just a regular day.

How can we celebrate the Fourth of July when the freedom does not cross over to us? Like Frederick Douglass said, we have nothing to do with your independence. So when you’re igniting sparklers and waving American flags around, stop for a minute and gaze into that red, white and blue…does this really represent me?

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Facts and Opinions

Gas Lighting and the Black Community: No…You’re Not Crazy

“Why are you making it a race thing?” “It’s not always about race!” “It’s all in your head.” Usually, when a person has to assure another that something isn’t about race…it is about race. We are living in a racially charged environment during this new Trump era, where two differing political opinions can create a mental detonation. Yes We Can and the presidential election of the first president of black descent in 2008 glossed over the fact that racism is still very much alive and thriving. I will say, Donald J. Trump is not my favorite person; he never will be, and I am not the fondest of people who agree with his ideologies. However, I will have to give him credit where credit is due. He exposed the racists in America! As people of color were a tad more relaxed during President Obama’s….sorry, former president Barack Obama’s presidency, they are on their pins and needles now more than ever before. I mean, out of 200 to 230 million registered voters, around 46.1% of votes went to Trump. To me, and plenty of others, that’s more than enough. That many people approve of what he believes in. That many people are against me and my basic human rights.

The black community is not a meek community. When an injustice occurs, they are right there on the front lines, giving their time, protesting the wrong doings of the government, and making it known that they will not take the disrespect that their community has endured for far too long. Being a person of color in America has it’s disadvantages, and no one can tell me otherwise. As a black woman from the city of Chicago, I am instantly seen as some ghetto, ratchet hood rat. I am seen as unintelligent and improper; un-ladylike. No, I do not sell drugs, and I do not know anyone who does. I have never met Chief Keef…no, I cannot give him your mixtape. I have not been shot at, nor have I fired a gun off myself. I don’t have sickle cell believe it or not. Those were all things that I have had to tell my non-poc counterparts. I decided to ignore it and grit my teeth, but now being older I wish I hadn’t. If I could go back to the conversation all over again, I would read them on the blatant stereotypes that conjured up as facts to depict the black race.

I was just reading about Serena Williams and her incident at the U.S Open. I watched the video, I saw what went on. Serena was mad! And rightfully so! Serena Williams is arguably one of the best athletes in the world right now. She’s confident in what she does; she knows she’s good. She has overcome a lot of adversity and ridicule, only to come out on top at the end. When she was being accused of cheating by the umpire appointed during the game, her response was warranted. I’m sure that if you were being arraigned for some type of cheating, you would not take it with a smile and a grain of salt. You’d be pissed! When Serena confronted the umpire on what he had done, now she’s seen as irate. The umpire’s call has nothing to do with her being a black woman, right? But when the majority white male tennis players curse at the umpire, throw their rackets down and spit, they’re deemed passionate and driven. Serena didn’t even do all of that! And she’s still being portrayed as this angry black woman. Soon after, Mark Knight, an Australian illustrator, drew a cartoon about the incident. A blind person could see that the comic was racist. The way he drew Serena reminded me of a Jim Crow era caricature. She looked like a mammy; jumping up and down on the tennis court with a pacifier laying next to her. Why was she so exaggerated? The umpire in the comic looked fine, and Naomi Osaka (her opponent), looked like a white woman! They basically white washed her to make Serena look like a brute. When confronted about his art, Knight claimed that it “wasn’t about race” and that “people are becoming crazy.”

That, my friends, is called gas lighting. Gas lighting is the manipulation of a person into questioning their own sanity. When it comes to the black community, in terms of racial inequality, it’s not a rarity to be questioned on how we feel or how we’re treated. When a person has a privilege, I assume it would be hard to put yourself in another person’s shoes. It may be difficult to realize that other human beings do not get the same treatment. Being seen as the “right” kind of American might come with a set of rose colored glasses. That’s one of the biggest arguments that I’ve ever been in is explaining why white privilege exists. I brought up the fact that due to stereotypes and notions that have already been established about the black community, white people are seen as better equipped than a black person. She retorted with the fact that she once lived in a trailer and struggled financially, claiming that she did not have white privilege because money was tight for her and her family at one point. White privilege knows no class. If you’re white, in America, and practically any place that has people of color, you’re alright. That was not the only time that black issues were questioned into actually existing, and I had the honor of being in the midst of it all. Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter. Remember that debate? Ignorance was exposed when more and more people began to side with ALM, saying that all lives are cherished and valued. Do I agree that they should all be cherished and valued? Yes. In this political climate, are all lives being treated that way? No. Absolutely not. I have gotten into a few verbal wars about Black Lives Matter, dispelling the myth that it is a terrorist group, and that it’s a hate organization towards other races. “If you don’t believe that all lives don’t matter, then you’re racist!” one girl said in one of my political science classes. I was shocked. This girl has also said previously that trans-gendered people were mentally ill, so I knew that we would never ever get along. BLM focuses on the issues that black people face on a day to day basis. It has never wished death upon other races of people, and if people within the movement have, then they are not true BLM followers. They want equality, not superiority.

Another instance that happened to me was during my freshman year of college. I was apart of my college choir. Attending a PWI (predominantly white institution), it’s not odd to be the only black person in the class, or one of the token few. It was me and four other black people in the choir. One of the pieces that we were given was titled, Death Is Gonna Lay Its Cold Icy Hands On Me. The fact that a chorus of 85% white people is singing a Negro spiritual irked me very much so, but the fact that they completely disregarded what the song is about was icing on the cake. One of the directors stated that he wanted us to sound “sexy” as we sang about slaves being afraid that they would die fleeing to freedom. That was terribly insensitive of them.  One of the other black girls in the group began to cry because it affected her so much. My friend and I approached the director about it, and how continuing to sing the song was not a good idea. He instantly tried to relate it to himself, saying that he was made fun of as a child because he was Catholic. Nice try, but you can hide a religion, it’s a bit harder to hide your race. I am not saying that you should hide your religion, but it would be easier for me to hide the fact that I’m a Christian than hide the fact that I’m black. Our plight fell on deaf ears. On the day of the concert, my and I closed our books and refused to sing in protest.

Those are just a few times that I came in contact with gas lighting, and I’ll probably come in contact with it. My Health Matters writer Dennis R. Upkins gave a few more examples of gas lighting that he’s heard. “The reality is whenever you’re a person of color speaking out against racism and white supremacy, it’s a safe bet that you will be on the receiving end of gaslighting” says Upkins. And I completely agree with him. It’s funny how non-poc people think that they know people of color better than people of color know themselves, huh?

Gas lighting is being told that you’re being rude when telling a white person that you don’t want them touching your box braids that are still sore. Gas lighting is saying that white people get killed by police more often that black people, when there are less black people in America, and their percentage of police brutality deaths are a larger population. Gas lighting is saying that Michael Brown being gunned down in the middle of the street was justifiable because he was a big, menacing looking guy. Gas lighting is neoliberal multiculturalism. It’s thinking that black people are complaining and not putting effort into the things that they do. Gas lighting is all around us. Stay strong and stay aware…and no….YOU ARE NOT CRAZY!

Where I found some of my sources:

Federal Elections 2016:

https://transition.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2016/federalelections2016.pdf

https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/30441531/Roberts___Carter_Andrews_-_Gaslighting_of_African_American_teachers.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1537199931&Signature=Ti3zs%2FF4tK2PhqNaJP6I135IjHw%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DA_critical_race_analysis_of_the_gaslight.pdf

https://mental-health-matters.com/denying-racism-and-other-forms-of-gaslighting/

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