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'They deserve more respect'

MARGINALISED: The story of the late Sandra Bland should be more visible in the #MeToo movement

THIS HAS been a monumental year for the reaffirmation of women’s rights in the workplace and the ballot booth. This is long overdue.

The battle for the rights of women, and specifically black women and girls, has gone on for centuries.

In America, the spotlight on this fight for women’s rights shines brightly on white women, while black women, who have often fought more vigorously for equality and justice, are largely consigned to the shadows of the movement.

TIMW magazine placed “The Silence Breakers” on their cover, noting that the tenacity and courage of the women’s voices could be heard over the walls of systemic oppression.

Still, in the stories of Dajerria Becton, a teenager who was violently handcuffed and thrown to the ground by an overzealous Texas police officer and Sandra Bland, who was arrested and died in police custody in Prairie View, Texas, that oppression seems unsurmountable.

Most acts of extrajudicial violence and aggression towards black women never become national headlines and many black women suffer in quiet silence as their complaints of sexual harassment are ignored and discounted, regardless of their socio-economic status.

Mainstream America labels black women as angry Jezebels unfit for normal, social interactions.

Pop culture hypersexualises our young girls while condemning them for being too fast. There is a deafening silence in the black community that is complicit in the degradation of our black women.

When we do speak, instead of a healing, sometimes our words just cause more wounds. One of the most influential hip-hop artists of all time, Tupac Shakur, spoke directly to black women in Wonda Why They Call U Bytch.

Today, some people would criticise Shakur for slut-shaming, while others would applaud him for telling it like it is.

White women have been applauded for coming forward to tell their stories of sexual assault and harassment under the #MeToo flag.

The movement would be much stronger and more credible, if its leaders forced mainstream media to also carry the stories of black women on their morning shows and popular websites.

Black men must bear some of the blame for mainstream media’s ignorance and apathy towards the plight of black women.

We band together, as brothers, ignoring the anguished cries of our sisters. We must stop, look and listen. We must reject R Kelly for his alleged abuse of black women and girls with the same unanimity that black voters in Alabama rejected the alleged sexual predator Roy Moore.

We must step in the name of love and in the name of justice with respect for our black mothers, wives, sisters and daughters.

This respect must begin in the black community; we must clean our own house, first. We must elevate our women from social media hashtags to highly-valued and respected members of the global community.

Black women and girls are sick and tired of being sick and tired; it’s time for us to heed Shakur’s advice and heal our women and be real to our women.

Ed Gray is the US-based host of The Commish Radio Show airing Saturdays 1-3pm on FBRN.net. This article appears courtesy of Black Press USA

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