Home Social Construct A Follow Up To Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault & Weight Gain: Outside Perspective

A Follow Up To Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault & Weight Gain: Outside Perspective

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Since I posted one follow up to my original blog post on the topic of street harassment and sexual assault… I figured I’d post another.

I would be remiss in admitting that I’m disturbed by it, but I’m still trying to flesh out why. I’m always interested in the mind that justifies stereotypes and negative perceptions of such wide swaths of people – and for that reason, I’m more open to reading this without spazzing out at first – but that doesn’t mean I’m condoning the content.

In short, I’m much more interested in reading what y’all have to say about this than I am interested in writing another 1800 words in rebuttal right now. Still trying to flesh out my thoughts.

this is an issue that bothers me at my core. I wanted to put someting out there.

I’m a white guy and an outside observer. I wasn’t sure how what I see would be taken in the forums so I didn’t want to post publically. I know all men sexually harrass women. White men in particular demand access to whatever bodies we wish, no matter their color.

Until I got sick and had to start using a cane, I tended to put myself in between people who were being picked on, harrassed, etc. For a multitude of reasons it’s just been that way most of my life.

On several occasions I’ve found myself stepping in when black women are being harrassed by black men. I’m very careful about it. I don’t directly confront the guys doing it or ask if I can help her. I know as a white guy she has to keep living in that community and I don’t. Usually I focus on something else. If she’s carrying a package I’ll ask if she needs help with it. I’ve asked if she’s lost and needs directions. Anything to give her my presence without looking like she’s choosing a white guy over black men. I know that can get her in trouble. I’ve noticed differences in the way harrassment plays out with black men and black women.

The biggest one is this: in no other group of men (granted I have limited experience) have I seen every other man in the vicinity drop what they’re doing if another guy’s advances are being ignored. I’ve seen things start between one man and woman, and by the time they get to the end of the block, she’s got four other guys surrounding her. It seems directly related to the fact that she ignored the first one. Almost like she’s being punished for not providing access on demand.

Again, I have limited experience, but I don’t see black men approach Latina, Asian, or white women in the same way. I understand (mostly in theory) that racism pretty much guarantees black men won’t treat white women that way.

I always thought part of the measure of a community was how they treat the women and children among them. I would think if nothing else, black men would treat black women with dignity in public so white people see black women that way.

I hate to use this next word, but I can’t find another one. From a white cultural perspective, there’s a cycle to things. Some black men treat black women badly. The white mainstream media covers the worst of it. (When was the last time we read an article about an upstanding black man who treats his wife like a queen?). This contributes (here comes the word I hate) to white cultures view of black men as animals, because hey, look how they treat their own women. It’s used as one of many sloppy and nasty justifications for upholding racism. Then I read writings by black women where black men say racism is why you can’t talk about the bad things that go on.

I could write more, but I feel myself teetering on the edge of babbling. This means I need to stop before my point deteriorates. But the heavy burden it appears black women carry seems unnecessary and painful on levels no other group of people are able to understand. I’m really glad to see the Internet contributing to, among other things, black women coming together, sharing experiences, and re-defining priorities.

This is a valuable site for that. Not that you need my approval or I need a cookie or anything. 🙂

I’m not offended by white people sharing cultural misconceptions and their thoughts on stereotypes and the origin of said stereotypes. I think it’s valuable to try to understand where this stuff comes from, because once we realize how we either (a) can’t identify the origin or (b) can’t accept the silliness of the origin, it makes it easier for all parties to let go. That being said, the idea that “how ‘our’ men treat us colors how ‘everyone’ treats us” is a phrase I’ve not heard before, and I need to spend some time thinking about that.

What are your thoughts?

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Daphne April 26, 2011 - 12:53 PM

I’m not offended by white people sharing cultural misconceptions and their thoughts on stereotypes and the origin of said stereotypes. I think it’s valuable to try to understand where this stuff comes from, because once we realize how we either (a) can’t identify the origin or (b) can’t accept the silliness of the origin, it makes it easier for all parties to let go. That being said, the idea that “how ‘our’ men treat us colors how ‘everyone’ treats us” is a phrase I’ve not heard before, and I need to spend some time thinking about that.

I’m familiar with it, and I’ve read or heard other white men express other sentiments. As I stated in the previous post, collectively, black men have no real power, and are being outpaced by black women in education, in the workforce, on the social scene, in the political arena, probably in the financial arena as well, excluding the hip-hop industry. I think there is some unresolved, subconscious resentment with some (many?) black men.

(Note how the commenter made a point: Anything to give her my presence without looking like she’s choosing a white guy over black men. There is a reason for that).

I don’t want to invalidate black women’s experiences, and I too have experienced sexual harassment before, even though it’s been several years. However, I think black women have been gaslighted over the years. We’re frequently told that we’re the least among women by whites and/or other groups – and I’m not dismissing the racial hierarchy or white dominance of the United States. BUT, black women are not perceived the same way everywhere – not in the US, and certainly not around the world. Food for thought.

At the same time, the bulk of the acute, immediate pain, loss, hurt, harassment, abandonment suffered by black women, at least in the past 4-5 decades, has been at the hands of black men, NOT other groups. And yet, black women are the most effusive and loudest advocates of black men they don’t personally know and receive no direct benefit from.

Now…….other groups see this, and yet also see how black women can be treated by other black men. What if those groups think, “Well, if black women don’t care about how badly they’re treated, why should I? If they continue to support men who don’t support them, maybe they’re fine with that treatment?” I don’t know if those thoughts come into play, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Anyway, the commenter above was candid, but you know, collectively, whites can’t share such observations without declarations of racisms thrown out like yellow flags during a football game. Just my thoughts.

Daphne April 26, 2011 - 12:54 PM

I’m familiar with it, and I’ve read or heard other white men express other sentiments.

Sorry, that should read:

I’m familiar with it, and I’ve read or heard other white men express similar sentiments.

Daphne April 26, 2011 - 12:58 PM

UGH – I cannot communicate properly today. This:

However, I think black women have been gaslighted over the years. We’re frequently told that we’re the least among women by whites and/or other groups – and I’m not dismissing the racial hierarchy or white dominance of the United States. BUT, black women are not perceived the same way everywhere – not in the US, and certainly not around the world.

Should read like this:

However, I think black women have been gaslighted over the years. We’re frequently told that we’re the least among women by whites and/or other groups (as told to us by other blacks, particularly black men) – and I’m not dismissing the racial hierarchy or white dominance of the United States. BUT, black women are not perceived the same way everywhere – not in the US, and certainly not around the world.

Msladee April 26, 2011 - 1:09 PM

Your latest response to the sexual harassment comment was so on point and impressive as always, but this right here? This made me shed a few tears. We AREN’T imagining anything. We aren’t exaggerating anything. This is what it is and everyone sees it.

Divinely Naptural April 26, 2011 - 1:52 PM

Well the disrespect Black men show to women of their race can be seen in their choice of brides, the women they put in videos to demean etc. They have been taught that Black women are at the bottom of the totem pole and in order to have “success” and be seen as a success, they must choose a woman of a “different caliber” i.e. RACE to be with. Please consider yourselves LUCKY that you aren’t on the arm of one of these deluded men. I’ve stopped worrying about who wants to be with me. I can only be me. I know the turmoil these women go through and the crap they take to call themselves Mrs. Successful Black Man…. they can have it! I’d rather have a blue collar hard working loving man any day who proves he can love me and provide for his family… REGARDLESS OF RACE.

Natisha April 26, 2011 - 1:56 PM

What an interesting circular idea…I agree with him – how women are treated IS circular.

However, the notion of white supremacy is missing from his explanation.

The idea that women of color were invaluable was propagated by European men FIRST – which is why we were raped on the plantations and throughout the Civil Rights movement (read At the Dark End of the Street by Danielle McGuire for additional info)

When you are in the majority (European, male, Christian – these are all majorities), I admit it is quite a challenge to accept responsibility for any role you may have played in the demise of another group – that is natural.

However, I would suggest that your reader take a look at European dominance from the standpoint of another group of people to get a more well rounded view of how negative images of women of color have been spread throughout the world.

I am not another angry woman – hopefully my comments did not come off that way. I am, however, a person who sees things from a holistic point of view – we are all connected and the psychological effects of slavery did not end when law was passed saying so. Most people watch a LOT of television and get their ideas from how to live from that medium – in particular, American African people since our families have been historically ravaged and we’ve been bombarded with ideas of not listening to our inner voice. When you look at the decision makers for these television stations, the ones who promote ideas about American African people, the ones who pay millions of dollars for certain images of American African people – you have to admit they have at least one thing in common – European descent.

natalie December 24, 2011 - 1:30 AM

i see your point. but history shows that even before we were bought and sold unto slave ships, african cultures were practicing female genital mutilation, a practice that was not introduced by europeans. how dehumanizing and cruel is that???! and it’s still being done today throughout africa with the blessing of african men today. in fact, in some parts of africa, a girl is not viewed as marriage material unless she’s undergone that awful initiation. we are mistreated by black men inside of and outside of africa and that has nothing to do with european male domination.

L. October 19, 2013 - 12:02 AM

I completely agree. You cannot divorce the way some black men devalue black women from white supremacy. The same white supremacy that this white guy benefits from, but neglected to mention. I won’t disagree with his SURFACE observations about the dynamics between black men and women and I’m glad he understands that he shouldn’t make it appear as though a black woman is choosing a white man over black men in a street harassment situation. But underneath the sexually aggressive behavior some black men exhibit is a contempt, hatred, and devaluing of blackness and black women that all black people are exposed to and indoctrinated with. There’s also an element of a bombastic and aggressive machismo I see with black men, which again goes back to white supremacy. Many black men, particularly young ones, feel like they have so little control over their own lives, they can at least exert control over a group that is widely considered to be even less worthy then they are: women, particularly black women. I remember walking down the street once and ignoring this guy who wanted to talk to me (because it’s my god given right to do that) and he literally barked at me that because he was a black man and I was black woman, I was OBLIGATED to respond to him no matter what. As though I was his property to control, even though in actuality I was a complete stranger to him. There’s definitely an element of internalized racism and exerting control when you feel you have none going on here.

Renee April 26, 2011 - 3:02 PM

I agree 150% with what that gentleman wrote. I’ve always said that black men are the only men who I can truthfully say have never stood up as a group to defend black womanhood. I have never felt that a black man has truly had my back or supported or protected me in any way, shape, form or fashion. This is not stated in anger, but rather resignation. I don’t expect it to change in my lifetime and I’m almost 53. One could assign any reason/excuse why this is so….black men feel powerless, racism sucks, whatever.

Personally, I don’t think that there is any excuse for the way black men treat us. I don’t mean ALL black men, but too many to say it is not a problem. In high school, I used to see young men grabbing on young sistahs, pulling them, pushing them and the girls not knowing any better, thought it was cute and that they were special. Rarely did you see a young man being gentle, holding doors, holding hands….most think that behavior makes them a punk. Not much has changed except the fact that it’s worse….much worse.

At some point, these men will have to become personally accountable for their behavior. I think most are being raised to be weak, to leave mama’s home and go directly to girlfriend’s home, get her pregnant so that she can live on the government dole and they have a guaranteed roof over their heads. We make excuses for these grown men, uphold them when they are clearly in the wrong, make them think that their personal choices are someone else’s fault, etc.

They (single moms and the streets; tell the truth and shame the devil. Full disclosure, I am a single mom too) raise these men to be dependent and their daughters to be independent because irony of ironies, the girls need to know how to take care of themselves because they certainly can’t depend on a man to do it. Wonder why? It all comes down to self-respect. If you respect yourself, you won’t tolerate this foolishness. I think that is sorely lacking in young women these days. They are so used to being dogged out, they see it is the natural order of things. They don’t demand more because they do not think that they deserve more.

Some black men (you know the type that I’m referring to) have not been taught to love, honor, protect and treasure women (in general)…..yet will fight you in a heartbeat if you disrespect their own mothers.

Somewhere along the way, sistahs developed an unnatural devotion to brothers. I think it’s a version of Stockholm syndrome where the persecuted begin to defend the persecutors. We defend men, who wouldn’t give us the time of day, to the death! I hate to tell them, but some black men wouldn’t spit on them if they were on fire. Some black men have such ugly grudges against black women, they will make damn sure that you know that they only date white women. To add the final nail in the coffin, they are only too happy to trash us on the way out.

On the other hand, there are some black women who wouldn’t dare date outside the race. Black men has never felt such loyalty toward us. They will date anything with a pulse. We feel like we have to stay true to the brothers….when what you really should be doing is giving the guys (black, white, red or yellow) who treat us with love and respect a chance….period. They can’t help what skin color God gave them…..look at the heart and soul….not the race. Be open to things that may seem foreign to you. There is a reason why 70% of black women are single. It doesn’t have to be that way….if we open our hearts and stop falling for the trap of staying true to men who use and abuse us, we will always be the fool…..lonely fools.

Brenda55 April 26, 2011 - 7:12 PM

I could not have expressed this better myself. This comment says it all. I came to these same conclusions several years ago. Widened my dating pool and am now married to a wonderful man who loves me fully. I have a wonderful life with my husband and am very happy. You guessed it, my husband is White. Black men will not step up their game so long as Black Women continue to allow them to treat us as trash. They will not command the respect from other races of men until they learn to take care of their own families and communities better.

I do not blame the sorry state of Black men on the Black Woman. Black men are the authors of their own destruction with their abandonment of their families and the sooner Black woman realize this and improve their options and move on the better.

Renee April 27, 2011 - 4:20 PM

Congratulations on being open to the possibilities…..love is there if we do not stifle it.

Eva April 27, 2011 - 9:14 AM

Renee, I agree with this 200%. I remember one day I was on the subway and a seat became open, I was about to sit down when a Black man jumped into the seat and guess what happened? A White man stood up and gave me HIS seat. I was like, wow, just wow. I’ve always dated men of all races and I feel I’m a better person because of it.

Renee April 27, 2011 - 3:14 PM

I have seen this many times before too. It’s almost as if it’s a race for the black man to get his seat and to heck with the rest of the populace. Once seated, it will take an act of Congress, a Supreme Court ruling and the Patriot Act to get them to budge. Old? Oh, well! Crippled? Sho ya right! Got children that resemble stair steps? Hmmm….let me hit that! It’s beyond rude and embarrassing to see so many acting as if they were raised by wolves. I’m beginning to wonder if I should ask that GENTLEMEN be declared an endangered species, because the one that’s left is dying of loneliness. GAH!!

Bpurpleb001 April 26, 2011 - 3:17 PM

This read was interesting but I must confess that I’ve been sexually harassed by caucasian and latino men also. Yes they do it too they’re just a little slicker about it.

Kerri April 26, 2011 - 6:44 PM

My experience in predominantly black areas completely jives with this man’s observations. When I was attending Columbia in New York for grad school, I lived only 2 blocks north of the campus (122nd street), and yet I almost never went shopping along 125th, the main drag in Harlem. Why? Because I was always, ALWAYS, followed by young black men who sexually harassed me, sometimes for 2 or 3 blocks in a row. I bought my groceries south of 125th, I went clothes shopping south of 125th, I went to the movies south of 125th, and I went to restaurants south of 125th, even though there were closer and cheaper venues along 125th. I felt a little bad for not really exploring Harlem and not visiting all the wonderful black-owned/run businesses there more often, but there was no way I was going to expose myself to that kind of treatment just to do those things.

I do take issue, however, with this man’s assertion that black men don’t do this to non-black women. Several of my white female classmates and roommates got the exact same treatment. Even the 50-year-old white mother of one of my classmates was harassed as the three of us walked down 125th one evening towards the Magic Johnson movie theater.

A white friend of mine who lived in East LA for a few years after college had very similar experiences with young Latino men in the area. (For the record, she does not look like anyone’s stereotype of Latina, nor does she speak Spanish.)

Kassey April 26, 2011 - 8:17 PM

I’m a frequent lurker on this site and have previously never been compelled to comment, but…I just had to this time. I applaud this man for being so candid. I think everything he said was on point and it made me feel terribly sad. Black women have been painfully aware, for many years, that we are the most disrespected and least protected women on the planet, and now others see it too and are speaking out. I know this topic was supposed to be about everyday street harassment but I think that its part of a much larger issue. I really think there is a conspiracy against black women launched in recent years. Never before in my 32 years of life have I seen so much negative media (mainly in television and in print – periodicals and internet) debasing black women as I have in the last 2 years. There is a segment of the black male population – a small but very public and vocal group – who absolutely hate black women and are only too happy to add to our degradation. Just search “black women” on YouTube and you will see an astonishing amount of videos by black men spewing vitriolic, racist commentary against black women. Many will argue that these men do not represent all, or even the majority of black men, but you won’t find many of the other black men standing up and taking them on. And, as this gentleman demonstrated, others see it and they internalize it and act upon it (I can’t tell you how many times I am treated with open hostility by people of other races all because when they see me, a black woman, they see me in a stereotypical way perpetuated in media – immoral, aggressive, even criminal – of which I am none of those things). I have come to the very painful realization that I am an unprotected underclass in this world and I have to do what I can to provide for and keep myself safe because no one else will do it.

Renee April 27, 2011 - 4:16 PM

Please accept this virtual handshake. I’ve been thinking the same thing too. There is always a purpose for everything that happens….and it is no coincidence that black women have been targeted. If other races begin to notice how black men disrespect us, should we be surprised when they begin to take up the slack. If our own men won’t protect us and are in fact our detractors, what hope do we have?

I’ve heard about the youtube slights….only because I began to see videos from black women mentioning it and posting videos of black women and their non-black husbands as proof that other men want us if they don’t. I’ve heard of the battle b/t the sexes, but this goes way beyond that. It’s vitriolic hatred being spewed between us. I don’t like it, but I know it stems from our own self-hate and disdain for those who look like us. Until we can figure that out, we are doomed.

Sky April 26, 2011 - 9:51 PM

This has got to be the realist thing I’ve ever read.

Crystal April 27, 2011 - 6:40 AM

This article comes at a time when I’m feeling the racism from a black man and the writer is “right on” in his comments. Black men do tend to treat black women differently from white women. I volunteer in a program where a black man is the director. I’ve worked with him for 6 years and for the past 2 years, I’ve worked on a particular program that a white woman has been in charge of for 19 years. She got sick and had so many other personal obligations that she was not able to fulfill duties. He asked if I’d help and I have. In fact, I’ve been there more than she has and she is stepping down this year and I will now lead up the program. When he makes announcements, programs, etc. where he lists his staff, he never fails to leave my name off, even when I’ve done most of the work and am on the payroll. He doesn’t get that I’m not helping to be recognized, but when he includes his staff, I don’t like being ignored either. I am the only black woman that has helped him consistently for this long as most of the women are white. He never “forgets” them, but always tells me that he used an old form and my name was not on it. It’s so frustrating and leaves me feeling so used. I still volunteer because this is a youth initiative that is so rewarding and positive for our community. I’m glad to be a part of it for the kids.

Denise M. April 27, 2011 - 4:40 PM

Wow. I was going to post a longer comment, but so many of the ones already here express how I feel, particularly Daphne’s comment(s). I also agree with Natisha about the notion of white supremacy being left out of the author’s examination. The white mainstream media has no interest in showing positive depictions of Black men, so a black man treating his wife like a queen would never be a viable news story, and wouldn’t change the minds of white culture’s view of black men.

I’m also starting to form the belief that street harassment is more of a class issue, than a race issue. I guess my theory is that poor men crave power and control that they cannot access, and they take it out on the women in their orbit, because women are seen as among the weakest. Most of the posts that I read about street harassment focus on black men, but they’re written by women (of all races) who live in large towns and cities where black people make up a large portion of the poor population.

I’m a young Black woman living in New Orleans. All of my street harassment experiences have been perpetrated by black men, but when I thought about it I realized that not only do I live in a city that’s 55% black, but I live and work in majority black neighborhoods that are disproportionally poor. I have been harassed by Latino men when I walk past the Home Depot, but that’s pretty much the only contact that I have with them. And there’s very few white men in this city that would classify as poor (that aren’t also poor-by-choice hipsters). If I’m never around those groups, how do I know that they don’t do the same thing? I suspect that poor Latino women can’t walk down the streets in their neighborhoods without being harassed, and the same with poor white women. But I have no evidence to prove or disprove that suspicion, and until I become friends with these women, live in their neighborhoods, or start seeing articles about this issue from their perspective, I guess I won’t.

I guess my point is that I often think that people overlook class when they talk about issues that seem like they have to do with race. I’ve never had a man of any race who looked like they were middle class harass me on the street – middle and upper class men more than likely sneak harass women who are in subservient positions to them. I don’t say that to make an excuse for black men, though, because I do think that there may be a tendency to go further with black women, because it seems like no one cares about us but us. My white coworker might get stuff yelled at her, but I doubt that anyone would follow her the way that I’ve been followed because they expect trouble for messing with white girls too much.

I think that at the intersection of race and class, poor men of all colors want what middle and upper class white men have, which, so aptly described by your commenter, is the ability to demand “access to whatever bodies we wish, no matter their color”. What white men do must be right because they’re the ones who have all of the power. And black men have been under the heel of white men for longer than men of other races (except for poor white men, who are so brainwashed that they can’t see it), so I think that they’re more susceptible to this line of thinking, and in turn have bought into the notion that black women are worthless (because white men say so), and they can treat us any kind of way (because white men have in the past). I’m disappointed that many poor black men seem to have fallen into the trap of thinking that way, and that the women who have to be around them are suffering for it.

I guess this did end up being a long comment (and this is condensed! maybe I’ll do a full version on my blog), but this is just me spilling out my recently developed theories and concepts on the subject when trying to understand the new paranoia that I feel when I’m walking around town. Like I said, I’m young (25), so I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years, with more life under my belt, I’ll have a different perspective on this.

My final thought is that the way to change this behavior is to raise children to see that they don’t have to do what powerful white men do or have what powerful white men have, just to feel like they have some respect. It won’t work anyway, and it’s causing more harm then good. The more I hear about divestment and DBR’s (which I don’t agree with, but that’s a whole ‘nother post), the more I think that black men have more to lose right now than poor men of other races. More and more black women are giving up, and where will they be without us? These white men are the emperors with no clothes. They’ve had to oppress women and men of every race for centuries to reach and retain the power that they have, and they’ll never let another group come close to their level.

As an aside, your original post on sexual harassment and weight gain and the post on The Insanity Report that inspired you to write it are both brilliant, and honest, and I feel like I’ve learned more about social issues from writers like you and Traci Renee Jones and the others that I read than I ever did getting a bachelor’s in sociology in college./ramble

Brenda55 April 27, 2011 - 8:33 PM

This is a very well thought out post and I agree with a lot of it. Two points. DBR-BM to me is valid. It separates the damaged from those who are not. There are good Black men out there. I was raised by one however too may are who do not hold the best interest of Black Women, children and their communities as a central focus of their lives. I have a brother, uncle and cousins who fall in that sorry category. There seems to be less of the former and a growing number of the latter. Further the DBR-BM have little or no respect for the good Black Men and victimize them also.

Why should Black Women with goals waste their time on men who do not reciprocate in kind, who are abusive at worse and disrespectful at best.? It is not the responsibility of Black Women to save and salvage Black Men. We have tried doing that in the past and things are only getting worse for Black Women and our children. When you are in a toxic environment the common sense thing to do is to flee the toxin saving your self and any children you have. You may want to call that disinvestment so be it. It is common sense for Black Women to use their resources to maintain an acceptable standard of living for themselves and their dependents and not able bodied Black men.

Widening ones options re. mates and living situation is a positive thing and a common sense move for any Black Woman who want a better life. Each individual woman should move towards having a quality life. Part of that is having a quality mate.

Finally my thinking is if White men are the root of the Black man’s problems then Black men need to grow a pair and take on his oppressor face to face and man to man. Instead of engaging in Horizontal Violence against themselves and Black Women. At age 55 I am not holding out hope for that to happen however. I have seen too much over the years and have been disappointed to many times. I have moved on to the life I have always wanted, one that I deserved. All it took was expanding my options re. a life partner.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 28, 2011 - 10:11 AM

I’ve said it before, and I’ve said it again – the idea of someone being damaged BEYOND REPAIR is nauseating to me.

It’s one thing to decide that someone’s needs – needs being defined as that which they’d need to leave behind harmful and negative mentalities – are beyond what you’d be willing to “work with,” so to speak… but to declare someone damaged BEYOND repair? That’s jarringly bizarre to me.

Y’all can identify the source of what you consider to be the problem (single parenthood, a desire for power, etc)… and y’all can identify the reasons why you think “people like that” exist… all of that identifying of “the source” and now there’s no “solution?”

To me, declaring someone or something damaged “beyond repair” is just an excuse used to justify YOUR lack of desire to do the “repairing.” You don’t need an excuse to not “repair” someone – no one is your responsibility, your dependent except your YOUNG children. I mean, the hell? Isn’t MOST religion based on the idea that ANYONE can be saved?

Someone, somewhere, has the time, ability and is willing to put in the effort. If that someone is not you, that is perfectly okay. Philanthropy is not everyone’s passion. You don’t have to declare people damaged “beyond repair” as justification for YOU not “saving” them. “Saving” isn’t anyone’s job – it’s a task that those of us who CAN… DO.

I’m just sayin’… if I took on that attitude, I don’t know that I’d be writing this blog. I could just declare a good 70% of the country “damaged beyond repair” and keep all my writing to myself. Password protected or something. Yeesh.

Renee April 28, 2011 - 10:52 AM

Wow….I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know what DBR-BM meant. Thanks for spelling it out. I’m not really sure how I feel about that. I do believe that in some instances, some people can’t be saved, helped, rescued and furthermore, some don’t want to be. I agree it is not anyone’s responsibility to save anyone. But I will tell you one thing that I’ve always done for my fellow human. If I see that you are TRYING….heaven knows, I will do whatever it takes to support you. If you are just trying to get over, to get by, I have no use for you.

There was a point in my life when I was so down about my situation, I became so emotionally paralyzed, that I folded under the pressure. I was talking to my brother one day about my life and how it was all so unfair. You know….Pity Party! Table for one! He said why don’t you go back to school? My brilliant response was “Do you know how old I will be when I graduate? 30!!”. He countered with “How old will you be if you don’t graduate?”

Sometimes, it takes someone to shake you out of your pathetic excuses and make you take a hard look at yourself. I think sometimes reaching out to someone is a good thing, but not everyone is willing to grab onto the hand that you are extending. Unfortunately, you can’t save the world….heck, you can’t even save people from themselves….but if someone reaches out to me and genuinely wants to change their situation….I will be there. You have to pay it forward.

As for your blog, people come here for answers, which says to me that they are at least entertaining the thought of changing their lives which means that they are trying. That’s a darn good beginning.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 28, 2011 - 12:26 PM

People, more or less, find me on accident. Usually through FB or twitter, and often not because they’re looking specifically for wellness information. They just so happen to learn that this site is about a LOT of topics that all result in weight loss and wellness, and they stick around.

My point in bringing that up is that education… enlightenment… starts with a question. A lot of people don’t have their “wake-up call” (or what I, here, call a “come-to-fitness moment”) until they see what’s out there and what’s possible. Isn’t that the reason why mentoring works? A bunch of folks who don’t know what the possibilities are, get exposed to the real world and see what’s out there, and are made better for it? Those of us who DO mentor (which is a lot of what one could call what is done in the comments both here AND on FB/twitter), are there because we want to be there with the ANSWERS. It’s not everyone’s responsibility, but to eviscerate the need by declaring people damaged beyond repair? That’s wack to me.

Like I said. No one should feel obligated to take that task. But don’t do the country the disadvantage of marking ANYONE as damaged beyond repair, and thereby not worthy of the assistance of those willing to give their time (not, necessarily, money.)

Brenda55 April 28, 2011 - 7:48 PM

To me, declaring someone or something damaged “beyond repair” is just an excuse used to justify YOUR lack of desire to do the “repairing.”

That’s right. I will own that statement. I am not ashamed of feeling that way. It is about setting limits. I do not feel it is my responsibility to save and salvage men when I can be building a quality life for myself. God helps those who help themselves. Black Women spend too much time caring for everyone else but them selves.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 28, 2011 - 8:16 PM

My point wasn’t intended to SHAME you, so I’d hope that you wouldn’t feel ashamed… especially when I said that no one should feel obligated to ever do any “saving.”

Brenda55 April 29, 2011 - 7:25 AM

Not to worry. I did not take you comment that way. If anything I would change the word “excuse” to “conscious choice” since that would be closer to my mindset.

Renee April 28, 2011 - 8:21 AM

You’ve brought up some very cogent points. However, I would have to say disrespecting black women goes beyond class (and yes, race). If you think that wearing a business suit makes a misogynist less so, it doesn’t. It just makes him a well dressed misogynist who does not have our best interests at heart. Such an argument sounds great in sociological theory, but there are plenty of lower classed black men who have been raised properly and respect themselves and women. Conversely, there are plenty of middle to high classed men who are just as vile and condescending as the guys who stand on street corners spilling their bile. The behavior and consequences of such is the same, the locale is the only difference.

I realize that most of us have been speaking in broadened generalities, but the point I was truly attempting to make is this: I do not feel protected/cared for/respected (in general) by the majority of the black men that I come into contact with, see on tv or hear about on the news. I know that this is not ALL black men. I know that there are some good black men like there are some good white, asian and latino men. The difference is that (in my opinion) not only do our men not stand up for us; they are usually the perpetuators and perpetrators of our being disrespected.

I’m not saying give up on black men either. I’m saying refuse to put up with their BS. Brenda’s comment about it not being our responsibility to save and salvage men was on point. We have been doing that since we’ve hit these shores. I think making excuses for them, doing everything for them, buying their clothes, making their meals, birthing their babies, giving them money to blow, allowing them to lay down with us when they haven’t punched a time clock in years (if ever) dishonors them and certainly does us no favors. We have to demand more if we expect more. I refuse to treat a black man as if he is helpless, dumb, incapable, uneducable and hopeless. They are stronger than that and if anything we should remind them of that fact.

They do not have to stoop to what the larger society intimates that they are. They can be great if they choose to be great. Personally, I don’t have time to hold their hands and tell them everything is going to be alright. I’m tired of playing superwoman and working my hands to the bone because I can’t get any assistance from him. I’m tired of being the only parent present in my children’s lives. There is a reason why flight attendants tell you to place the oxygen mask on yourself first…..how can you save someone else if you can’t help yourself?

Daphne April 28, 2011 - 10:55 AM

Denise, I hear you on the intersection of race and class. I also understand Natisha’s point on white supremacy.

Whatever the reasons, the reality is that many black women are being harassed, mistreated, or outright abused by black men. And other groups see this. It doesn’t mean that black women are never harassed by other groups of men – I think prevalence is key here. Slavery and Jim Crow and the pathology around that can only be used as crutches for so long (that ship has sailed, IMO), and that’s not counting the African Diaspora countries where blacks are in the majority, yet still majorly abuse their women (i.e. Haiti, South Africa, Sudan, Congo, etc). Colonization had its impact, for certain, but most, if not all, of these countries retained their cultural roots. Most of them don’t have widespread access to “Western” media.

So yeah, I can understand why a black woman who is constantly harassed or mistreated by black men doesn’t find comfort in class disparities or white privilege. All she knows is that she can’t walk down the street without being subjected to insults and expletives because she’s not interested in some black man’s advances. I don’t think she has to equivocate (i.e. there are good black men) when she rarely, if ever, interacts with said men or witnesses said men in action by holding other men accountable for their actions.

I certainly don’t expect black women to physically confront black men and police their behavior – I agree with Brenda and Renee – not our job. As others have stated, we have to stop rushing to strange black men’s aid (as in we don’t know them, their character, and there is no benefit to us), coddling them, and justifying mistreatment out of some misguided sense of “black unity” or “black love” or “black community.” Community is a mutual effort by all parties to sustain it. There is no singular black community. I applaud Tracy, highlighted in the original post, as well as any other women who speak out, for calling a spade a spade.

Non-black groups may see the equivocation as acceptance of mistreatment. That’s a problem.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 28, 2011 - 11:00 AM

“I don’t think she has to equivocate (i.e. there are good black men) when she rarely, if ever, interacts with said men or witnesses said men in action by holding other men accountable for their actions.”


If a woman defines “a good man” as “one who protects and defends my honor” (read: chivalrous), and all of the, assumedly, “good men” around her REFUSE to do this? Then guess what?

THEY AIN’T GOOD MEN and she DOESN’T have to play PR for those men – ANY men, for that matter – if they don’t meet HER standards.

Renee April 28, 2011 - 12:14 PM

I’m just sitting here fanning myself in the Amen Corner. How refreshing it is to have found such an insightful, respectful and courteous site where we can offer our unique perspectives without being harangued. I feel so privileged to have found all of you. That is all.

Adrian May 29, 2011 - 7:19 PM

I’m a middle-class fairskinned/black man, who married a (“mixed race” in the Caribbean, “black” in the US) non-white woman.

This post nauseated me, because it fit straight into my own experiences of black women buying white supremacist bullshit.

Too many black men abuse and mistreat women.

Yet my observation and experience is that just as mainstream society and mainstream media has a skewed, unfair judgement of black people, so do black women (being human) inhale that mode of judging black men.

Black women have been programmed to require black men to be twice as good in order to get half the credit.

Don’t get me wrong; black women are happy for a black man to be even halfway decent. A halfway decent black man will have women’s attention; but the same halfway decent behaviour from a white man will provoke disproportionate, embarrassing fawning.

I’ve seen white men physically and emotionally abuse women. I’ve seen them harass on the street. I’ve seen them seek to prostitute their black women. And I’ve never, ever seen black women generalise from the negative things white men do. Only recently, a friend of mine said, on the tail end of three consecutive abusive relationships with white men,

“My experience with white men has uniformly been good.”

So I put this to you: your generalisations about black men versus white men are skewed. They are about as fair as the “black women are harsh and materialistic” memes spread by comedians and sitcoms.

We need to back off of these stereotypes, stop judging the many by the behaviour of the few, and stop contributing to the demonising of our people.

Erika Nicole Kendall May 29, 2011 - 7:29 PM

In other words, all men suffer the same failings and should be held accountable accordingly?

Daphne May 29, 2011 - 9:46 PM

If this is true:

Black women have been programmed to require black men to be twice as good in order to get half the credit

Then how is this also true?

Don’t get me wrong; black women are happy for a black man to be even halfway decent. A halfway decent black man will have women’s attention

I’m confused.

Deborrah Cooper August 11, 2011 - 4:26 PM

Don’t fall for it Daphne. Once again it is nothing but an attempt to derail the conversation and take the focus off BLACK WOMEN and to get all the women to talk about BLACK MEN and their issues instead. Happens on just about every thread of every discussion forum I’ve ever visited. Black men cannot stand not to be the focus of our every attention. Ignore it and stay focused on women, women’s issues, women’s needs, solutions for women, women’s strengths. 🙂

L. October 19, 2013 - 12:25 AM

Look dude, if you haven’t seen the many forums where black women complain about the ways white men often fetishsize us, call us ugly and undesirable, call us welfare queens or ghetto, underestimate our intelligence, or refer to us displaying our normal human emotions as being “an angry black woman” then that’s your fault and a reflection of your limited knowledge. Look it up, INFORM yourself, and then come back to this conversation because those complaints and observations about white men from black women are out there. Those complaints are in books, they are on the internet, and they are in documentaries. Those complaints have existed in one form or another since we were dragged over here from West Africa. And then after you’re done doing that, look up how many black women simply refuse to date white men, have misgivings about dating white men, or eventually date white men after only dating black men exclusively for an EXTENDED period of time. Then look at the statistics of interracial marriage for black men and black women and see who exactly marries outside of their race more often. In conclusion, in the future, you need to educate yourself about a topic before speaking about it. Period. Because if I was you, I’d be embarrassed. You a bunch of ridiculous bunch of conclusions about black women based on absolutely nothing but your own self serving and ignorant opinions. There is no excuse for your willful ignorance.

j November 7, 2013 - 12:48 PM

As a black man, I find many of these comments to be extremely disturbing. It seems like more and more sisters are willing to cosign white supremacist propaganda when discussing the behavior of black men. It is a very troubling trend. Those black women who object to the racist stereotyping are mocked, ridiculed and accused of being traitors. I live in NYC and I have seen countless brothers go out of their ways to help sisters. Sure, far too many brothers mistreat black women but it is no where near the majority. To the woman who said a white man gave her a seat on the subway when a black man ran in front of her, I and thousands of other black men give up my seat to black women EVERY day. It really does seem that it is so much easier for a white man to impress a black woman. It’s sad. Many white men sexually harass sisters also but their advances tend to be interpreted in a positive way. They are considered benign if not outright flattering. I heard a sister who spent two weeks in Italy talk about all the attention she received from “gorgeous” Italian men. She described one experience where she was surrounded by a group of men on the street and they touched her face and marveled at her beautiful dark skin tone. She was euphoric. She didn’t consider it to be street harassment because they were white. The fact that they touched her while leering at her body was not offensive. What’s REALLY going on?

Gerald Grant May 30, 2011 - 10:57 AM


I am a Nerdy White Boy (LOL) from Canada who is in a mixed relationship with a wonderful women from Sudan. We have faced a few issues that have been mentioned here. I have seen my Girl have to defend us in the gym to other men from her cultural back ground. I saw her one time go off on one guy in a very public area of the gym. Telling him that I am a man with more heart, brains and strengths that he would ever have, it was very interesting to watch not just his reaction, but the reaction on others.

Since I have been her trainer in the gym along with her boyfriend we have seen guys and other women looking at us. I also work with her 9 year old son in the gym so the vibe and talk we get from the other women seems to be very different, more accepting and supportive. Some have said very nice things like “you two must be very close” with big smiles. So the reaction has been both positive and negative but seems to be along gender lines.

Deborrah Cooper August 11, 2011 - 4:23 PM

It would be nice to see a discussion on a Black owned site that did not use slavery as justification for any of the nasty behaviors of Black men in 2011. That kind of thing is very disappointing to me. When Black women offer up such excuses for Black men, they are being offered as an explanation, justification for his behavior. I cannot accept that. If anything, the fact that Black women were taken from the Black man and sold away and raped should be the #1 reason why he clings to and protects the Black woman NOW THAT HE IS FREE TO DO SO! So I am not buying that as any sort of excuse. Black men are choosing, of their own free will, to denigrate and hurt Black women.

I had no problem with what the guy wrote. He is speaking the truth. I moved out of the inner city and raised my daughter in an area that is 95% White. One thing we do not have here is harassment by men on any level. Some light flirting in the grocery store once a year or so. She is 20 years old now and going to college. We both feel free to walk up and down the street at any time, wearing anything, and not be honked at, whistled at, called names, chased down the street, etc.

The best thing Black women can do is get out of the inner city and avoid being around Black men that are in groups as much as possible. They seem to feed off each other and show out to get the approval of their buddies. Harassing children and teenaged girls I guess is a way to acquire manhood points?

Rara February 17, 2013 - 10:41 AM

I’ve read most of the comments and I can not buy into the”all black men are bad” syndrome. I have been married to a black man for 18yr…I am black woman. We live in a predominately black neighborhood by choice. I can walk down my street and I do not get catcalls and whistles…… Not to say that it has not happened in my life time. I have always believed that many black women sell themselves short by engaging men (of any color) that are not good for them. I think that a person will attract that very thing that they feel inside. The bottom line is that all people are different and it is never good to lump a group of people into one category. I also believe that class plays a great part in how some men act. Some men have it and some do not have it. I choose to be positive…and I will admit that I have responded to a catcall with one of my own……lol

L. October 19, 2013 - 12:42 AM

Are you sure class has something to do with it? As I recall, neither Clarence Thomas or Anita Hill was poor or working class when he aggressively sexually harassed her.

Adele March 13, 2013 - 12:10 AM

The author has a point. On average, I’ve experienced more sexual harassment from black men. But Black men are who I date usually and am surrounded by. So by default, I would get more harassment from them, because I interact with them more.

Yes, there are some ignorant males out there but there are a lot of good black men too, in the U.S. and outside the U.S.

I wouldn’t jump on the “white guys are better” bandwagon either. Western society is patriarchal, and the media reduces women to sex objects and beauty queens. Everything designed to make the modern woman insecure.

To me this is classic “Divide and Conquer” tactics.

L. October 19, 2013 - 2:29 AM

Black men aggressively sexually harassing black women in the street is definitely a pervasive issue, but I have a major problem with a white guy writing about it and neglecting to mention how white supremacy and powerlessness contributed to this issue. I also have a problem with him characterizing black men as being the most aggressive street harassers because I’ve read multiple accounts of white and Asian women being subjected to perverted and aggressive street harassment from white men too. (And in the case of Asian women it’s often racialized sexual harassment.) I’ve read in the news about white men flashing their genitals at women, taking upskirt photos, rubbing up against them, and catcalling them.

As for other black men joining in to harass black women as a group, I think that behavior is common amongst a lot men. Many men bond over establishing their dominance over women, like in the Steubenville and Maryville rape cases. Or they bond over being misogynistic in frat houses like Beta Theta Pi, which was referred to as the “rape factory” for YEARS by students at Wesleyan University. Maybe his white privilege is clouding his perception about the way many white men behave with women. He may construe their sexually aggressive behavior as being normal or not that aggressive while pathologizing the SAME EXACT behavior in black men. It wouldn’t be the first time that a white person observes a black person exhibiting the same conduct as a white person, and only deems the black person’s conduct to be unacceptable.

None of this is to say that the way some black men mistreat and sexually harass black women is not pathological, but the way this guy writes about the issue is pretty self serving and close minded.

Erika Nicole Kendall October 20, 2013 - 3:50 PM

“I have a major problem with a white guy writing about it and neglecting to mention how white supremacy and powerlessness contributed to this issue.”


Gonna take this comment and hug it for a while. This is where I am with it.

Marin October 19, 2013 - 1:36 PM

I have heard this before. A white malw friend of mine has flat out said when white men contemplate being with a black woman, they say to themselves “their own men don’t want them or hold much respect for them” and it’s viewed as a red flag, especially if she is a “10.” I wish we realize that everyone takes note of how we treat one another and take their cues from us. Same argument goes for the n-word.

Erika Nicole Kendall October 20, 2013 - 3:48 PM

“I wish we realize that everyone takes note of how we treat one another and take their cues from us.”

In other words, its our fault that racism exists?

I’m sorry, that sounds like buying into excuses that forgive non-Blacks for their inability to see us as individuals, human beings, whatever. It’s OUR fault that these people fail to think critically? I have to challenge that.

lydia November 13, 2013 - 1:14 PM

I find it interesting that whenever black men are put on blast for things that they do against black women that are in no way stereotypes or lies they always talk about white men. Most black women would never say that white men are not racist;however at the end of the day the conversation is not about WHITE MEN.
We are talking about BLACK MEN. You can’t even address your dysfunction without blaming white men or projecting towards what white men do. Black men need to be accountable which is something they have a problem with. They have a problem with being accountable for their violent and abusive behavior. They also have a problem with being accountable for the children they neglect to take care of. Is it the white man’s fault your son has never seen you but every stripper, bartender and shoe salesman has in the last ten years? How about you stop having sex with women you don’t have the intent to marry or stop dating women who you proclaim to be hoodrats and then get surprised when she starts acting hood. Black men need to check each other period. They need to be fathers FULLTIME, stop making excuses and get an EDUCATION. I mean a vast majority of black men need to do this. Look at the statistics. With all the crap that black women deal with we somehow manage to be more successful than you. Not ever black man is a trayvon martin. Not every black rapist, murderer or gang banger is a victim. They are menaces to our community. The good black men need to become protectors, providers and enforcers in our community. oh wait they won’t because of their bro-code. They’ll kill anyone that hits their daughter but have no problem beating their daugther’s mother or knowing that their best friend date-raped a girl a month ago. Yeah he’s cool.

L. November 16, 2013 - 7:40 PM

I get where you’re coming from, my response was one of those that didn’t ONLY concentrate on the ignorant and disrespectful behavior of some black men and that mentioned white supremacy (a lot) and I’ll tell you why. First of all, you’re ignoring the fact that Erica’s post was crafted around a WHITE MAN writing about his perception of the WAY black men sexually harass black women. His “judgement” of the situation is completely full of white privilege and arrogance and is self righteous and self serving. So first and foremost he and every other white privilege oblivious person like him needs to be checked. He thought he was going get away with describing black men as THE MOST aggressive with their street harassment, which is just untrue and speaks to how white supremacy has OBVIOUSLY warped his perception of how similarly white men and black men sexually harass women. Second, he neglected to mention how the same white supremacy that he benefits from has effected the self worth and self perception of some black men (and women and children..but I digress), to the point that they feel powerless, internalize racism, and hate blackness and they take that rage out on a group that is also black AND widely considered to be worth even less then them: black women.

The pathological, demented, and demeaning behavior ( by this I mean black men clearly exhibiting internalized racism and hatred of all blackness, including hatred of black women) and sexual harassment from black men towards black women is coming from somewhere. It’s coming from three places: racism, racialized misogyny, and misogyny. Two out of three of those has to do with race. So a white man does not get to write about this issue or come at this issue from a condescending, white supremacist, OBLIVIOUS place, because they have no right to and they really aren’t any better…for a PLETHORA of reasons.

If this response was coming from somebody who had obviously checked his white privilege enough to discuss this issue and not come from such a self serving place, my responses probably would have mentioned white supremacy a lot less. He needs to check himself.

L. November 16, 2013 - 7:41 PM

All that being said the white guy who needs to check himself, black men who aggressively sexually harass black women and abuse them other ways are trifling as hell and need to stop being misogynistic and hateful to women in their own community. They need to man up and need to stop being selfish, destructive, and nihilistic in black neighborhoods. Lots of black men will be the first to tell other races of people, go on national TV, and tell black women to their faces that black women as a group are undesirable and unworthy of respect and protection. They disrespect us, use us, and discard us PUBLICLY which is f*cking embarrassing and humiliating. Black women are raped at higher rates then white women are…and who’s raping them? BLACK MEN. There is clearly something wrong with a lot of black men, which they need to fix for themselves and the black women who want to be with them. I agree with A LOT of what you say about black men, but I refuse to avoid the fact that a lot of these issues stem from white supremacy and powerlessness. It’s reality babe, and if the pathological, abusive, and violent behavior of some black men is going to be discussed honestly, then the root causes need to be referenced.

L. November 16, 2013 - 7:42 PM

* I meant- All that being said about the white guy who needs to check himself…

Arakiba July 5, 2014 - 8:48 PM

Black men have traditionally been oppressed/abused by whites and the dominant culture, and the only group they were ever able to take this out on were black women…because women have traditionally been viewed as inferior to men. White skin trumps black skin, but they’ll be damned if male doesn’t trump female.

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