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Dear Brother, [blogged in July, 2009]
I’ll start with the obvious. I love you. I love all of you, down to the sweat on your brow when the sun beats your brown skin. You are beautiful beyond words. However, sometimes I question if I am just as beautiful to you.
I often wonder if I am to be your Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman, a Khoikhoi woman of southwestern Africa who was paraded around as a sideshow attraction because of her abundant assets. In 19th century Europe, Saartjie was marveled at not for her beauty, but for her prominent posterior. I lock in images of black, female beauty on my television and in urban magazines, and note how Sarah’s cage has transformed into a broad range of media outlets, making the ogling audience larger in scale.
I’m not blaming you for the world objectifying us. I’m blaming you for allowing this continuous objectification go on without more opposition from you. From the plantation to the present fields, we have been taken advantage of. Our bodies have been showcased as a commodity. Master is still raping us, and many of you are simply sitting outside of the room. Brother, we still need you to be our protectors. In spite of the loud “independent woman” movement and the advancements of women’s rights, I need you to know that the importance of your presence has not become obsolete.
While we stand strong and walk beside you, we also take comfort in knowing that your shoulder is there for us to lean on.
Your shoulders can more than handle our weight. I know this because many of you bare so much. Even in 2009, having a president who shares your color and experience has not taken away your burdens. The prisons still hold a disproportionate number of you. Cynical eyes still follow you as you handle your day-to-day. Employers consider your skin as closely as they do your resume. And people are still surprised when they find how intelligent and articulate you are.
I’m not ever shocked by your beauty, talent and intellect. You were born with the most impressive characteristics. Being dope is your birthright. As the offspring of kings, it’s your fate to be incredible. I’m just not always sure that all of you value or recognize your worth. Some of you become swept up in a cycle of mediocrity. I’m writing this letter to tell you, just as harshly as I am sweetly, you are better than your circumstances and what the majority expects of you.
You are expected to walk away from your babies, mistreat your women, and laze around while the world whips by. You are even given undue praise when you stand up to be fathers and when you elude the prison system. This has given you the misconception that being responsible is synonymous with going above and beyond. I will not give standing ovations for what should be a given. You must do more. We need you all as our community leaders, our teachers and our mentors.
We need your support, tolerance, love and respect. We need you to stop encouraging women to serve as dangerous images that your daughters will admire. In the plain words of Cheryl ‘Salt’ James, “We follow your lead.”
"We twirl our sex batons in video flesh parades
Trying to complete you with desperate sexcapades
We follow your lead
We want to respect you, never want to hurt you
We’ll give you our bodies but we’d rather give you our virtue.”
Brothers, understand that you still set the tone for the future of our community. Take your seat at the thrones in which you all belong and treat us as your queens. Claim your rightful place and I will have your back.
I am -
being my own best friend.
being my biggest fan and committed supporter.
being my most loyal of lovers.
I have learned to be all of these things to myself in preparation of being a friend, support and love to others. I have never trusted any man or woman who relies on others for happiness or wholeness.
If you’re a young woman from any background, and he’s educated or athletic or wears glasses or is a business man or he possesses a degree or he is articulate or a family man or well-liked in the community or believes in God or is “too handsome to need to force a woman into sex” - it is likely that they will attempt to silence you.
You don’t have to accept it.
Tell your story. Share your truths. He/they cannot continue to violate our space/bodies/womanhood.
There is no shame in your honesty.