I apologize if my love for black women offends you, wait. No I don’t. My love for black women is fierce, it is strong, and it might offend people who don’t think we need to be a solid unit in an America that hates our blackness. Sorry, I’m not sorry, but I love black women like I love air; it and they are necessary to my existence. Therefore I have decided to write them a letter apologizing for the wrongs they have had to witness as direct and indirect results of us, black men, not being committed enough to them and our shared struggles both now and in our past. We are responsible for the pain, anger, and bitterness felt when we lead rallies, marches, and causes for our sons but are deathly silent at the rape and destruction of our daughters. We are silent, even if I am not. We do not live in some fanciful vision of a post-racial America, but in an America that’s very much still covertly racist. The lack of protection we have afforded our women and daughters is appalling, and I hope this encourages them that some of us get it.
Dear Black Women,
Black Women, we’re sorry… I know, I know, hollow words, but there’s just no excuse for the way we have mistreated, abandoned, and abused you. We were supposed to protect you, but we have silently joined the ranks of your oppression. We have stood by in the shadows, watching you get decimated, abused, and oppressed. We haven’t lifted our fingers as a collective body to help you from under the weight of not only the problems that you face, but our own complicitness in the denial of your protection. When things happen to us, however, we benefit from your voices raising loudly in our defense, rallying around our men and our boys being denied their protection under the law. When our daughters are brutalized and raped and even their rapes are made fun of by black men, we have a serious problem with how we see our women. What happened to Jada is indefensible and irrational; how do we dare make a joke out of the tramatizing rape of a sixteen year old girl? We passed around memes and pictures via social media that mocked her entire ordeal because rape is generally not a fear that men have. We mocked her traumatic ordeal as though it was either her fault, or something to be made fun of. Rape is nothing to joke about.
Other cases have come up such as the woman who was brutally beaten by a police officer who had sworn to protect and serve; if they will not protect and serve our women, then we must do it. Sadly we have not protected or served our women in what seems like ages. We could not adequately protect our women during slavery because we had no power, leverage, or any real freedoms or security. We could not fully protect them during the Civil Rights movement because though we had some power and leverage, we still had very little security if we stood against the machine of the KKK and the police in order to protect not only our civil rights, but the natural rights of a man to protect his woman. Now we are still living out slavery and the Civil Rights era in our minds, paralyzed to act when our women and daughters are violated, brutalized, and even killed.
We do not act in the best interest of our women, but we allow ourselves to be hired out to the highest bidder, spewing our hatred of our women out over the radio waves. The songs we make, the art we produce – it villifies women. It reduces our women to objects of sexual fulfillment or just objects in general; we don’t love these women. We are not loyal to our wives, sisters, mothers and daughters if we play and create music that dehumanizes them. We support artists and entertainers who have repeatedly abused and victimized women, and our coverage on it makes them out to be the victims rather than those people who they have violated. We do not stand up and defend our women and, to be rather honest, in our history we never have.
“I’m sorry” are such hollow words in the face of such a neglectful history, since we’re so caught up in establishing our places in society that we have forgotten how to elevate our women as we elevate ourselves. Someone once said that you can judge a nation by how it treats its women. How much more can be said of a group of people? So, black women, we, as black men, need to do better by you. We need to not just tell you that we love and appreciate you, but we need to show you that we love you by our action and dedication. Our apology means absolutely nothing if we do not act according to our words. I want you to forgive us but hold us to a standard that you deserve. Do not settle for our inaction in the face of your victimization. You deserve better men, better protection, and better care than we are giving you. Please accept our sincerest and most humble of apologies. You deserve more.
Daniel Johnson is a published poet from Huntsville, TX who enjoys reading, writing and visiting the occasional art gallery and museum. He is currently attending Sam Houston State University in pursuit of an English major while also writing for two small faith-based magazines.