We must do more to protect Black women in our culture.
Following recent remarks against Rihanna and the multitude of abuse Megan Thee Stallion has faced, it behooves me to speak up about the gross misogynistic, catty attitudes that these — and so many other — women deal with regularly. Women are being exploited in the social media vacuum, and Black women in particular are being besieged across the internet, television and the real world. Worst of all, they are being and demeaned by Black men. What kind of brothers are we to treat our sisters this way?
Black women often experience different forms of hatred disguised as an opinion. Let’s take the most recent camouflage of what ESPN loudmouth Stephen A. Smith said about the icon Ms. Rihanna Fenty. Her sincere supporters and dedicated fans have been waiting over six years for her to return to music, yet when Smith was on TV and asked about Rihanna returning and performing at the Super Bowl, he felt compelled to answer such a softball question with an unwarranted comparison: “She ain’t Beyoncé.”
This was a cowardly action. It was done in very poor taste with no type of decorum, blatantly disrespecting Ms. Rihanna as she preps for the Super Bowl halftime show — the biggest stage in the world. She and Beyoncé are both iconic in their own right. So why the need to compare these Black female artists and entrepreneurs? Who wastes their breath debating whether Michael Jackson is better than Prince? They are two different artists, but equally pop culture icons.
Smith later tried to clean up his mess with an apology. But his statement of disrespect is cemented on the internet, while too many of us have already moved on. Even if we do not forgive, we should not be so quick to forget. There are a lot of cowards who hide behind their platforms and feel compelled to say something — anything — to stay relevant. So, they come at our Black women with no regard for their feelings or significance to our culture. But what about the rest of us? What’s being done to curb such behavior? Why is it that Black men are mostly saying and doing nothing? It’s unbelievable.
Consider also Megan The Stallion, who was forced to face malicious attacks against her character and her truth that she was shot — all while she herself was trying to digest and process the whole trauma. Megan has been forced to endure hatred and vicious ridicule. All of this could have easily coerced her into staying silent — a form of violence in itself. Sadly, here’s another example of a Black woman who wasn’t protected or supported by the multitude of real Black men. That is unequivocally egregious and unacceptable.
Social media has connected us but also disconnected us from life in a vain, disruptive and distracted way. It’s The Matrix and we can’t unplug. If you’re not on social media, you are uninformed; if you are on social media, you’re misinformed! Whether it’s in the comments section or people speaking out on their own, the most profound direct attacks are often targeted at Black women. As if Black women have not been to hell and back already. We need to celebrate and protect our Black women at all costs. Yet Black men with a voice or platform deliberately go out of their way to demean them. Wading through all the attacks, buffoonery and coonery is exhausting and demoralizing. What’s happening to Black power and pride?
We must eradicate all this hatred and torture and it’s imperative that we step up to improve cultural conditions for not just high-profile celebrities but all Black women. Such demeaning and hatred can spark real-life violence. In 2020, five Black women and girls were murdered every day in the United States, according to an investigation by The Guardian released last summer. Beyond physical violence, these women’s mental health also must be preserved.
Black women have been and still are fighting for themselves. The rest of us — particularly Black men — however, need to step up and join them. Let’s show how unacceptable this kind of behavior is: Empower and support the positive female voices out there, and next time Stephen A. Smith or another like him baselessly degrades our women, those of us with a platform of influence ought to speak up, hold him responsible and make him take accountability. We do it four our Black mothers, our Black wives, our Black daughters, our Black friends and we do it for ourselves. Because, by doing so, we will be protecting our culture as well.
Ameer Sudan is CEO/chairman of Silvaback Productions, Silvaback Management and Hitnation Publishing. He is also a strategic mogul adviser to clients in the entertainment industry.
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