Last week, Traci Young-Byron, owner of the Young Contemporary Dance Theatre in Florida, posted a video of her amazingly talented dancers in action. The video has since gone viral, and many comments have been posted in response to the video.
But, the comments have not been supportive and many of them have been focused on the girls’ attire, rather than their talent. Attire that is standard in the dance world, mind you.
“Look at those fast ass girls”
“If these were my daughters, there’s no way in hell they’d come out looking like these little hoes!”
“They’ll be strippers by the time they’re 19!”
“Fast ass?” “Hoes?” Is this what we truly think of our girls?
Unfortunately, this attitude towards Black girls runs rampant within our community. Click around social media and you will see dozens of disparaging comments about Black girls’ bodies and attire. Our girls are not allowed to be free and to openly express themselves without being policed, sexualized, and criticized. This greatly contributes to poor body image among Black girls
As I have written previously for “Feminist Wednesday”:
“The harsh and constant policing of Black Girls’ bodies has led us to become ashamed of ourselves- ashamed of our bodies and our sexualities. Our larger hips, ample asses, and breasts are hypersexualized, and as a defense mechanism, we hide our sexual desires in order to repel this hypersexualization and judge others who choose not to. We label other women as “hos” and steer clear of them, still suffering from the fear of being labeled a “fast-tailed girl.” We quickly dismiss victims’ statements about their sexual assaults and instead run to the perpetrator’s defense. (Prime example: R.Kelly. Black women, men, and others STILL support him and his music.) The social acceptance of body-shaming, slut-shaming, and victim-blaming within Black culture has shown that our girls are not valued, with the statistics to prove it.”
Our girls are suffering. Their creativity is being stifled and they are growing up with low self-esteem and sex-negative outlooks. But, we are ALL to blame.
Through our demonizing of our girls and coddling of abusers, we perpetuate rape culture regularly.
If you’ve ever called a girl “fast” or “hot”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever called a girl a “hoe”, a “thot”, or a “hoe in training”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever forced your daughter to change clothes because her outfits “revealed too much”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever told your daughter to change clothes because a “certain” male family member was coming over, “you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever second-guessed an assault victim’s story or asked them “what they were wearing” when they were assaulted”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever told a young woman to “leave something to the imagination”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture. (This is also a weak excuse because seriously- in most cases, you know basic human anatomy and you KNOW what’s under people’s clothes. How much more is there to imagine?)
I implore you to check out my piece, “Fast-Tailed Girls, originally posted on Feminist Wednesday:
Let’s begin to educate ourselves and do better by our girls and our culture.
Seven Year Old Dies in Border Patrol Custody
In a devastating development, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl has died in the care of Border Patrol. Until autopsy results confirm her cause of death, Americans are left with more questions than answers.
A group of 163 migrants attempted to cross the border illegally and were then apprehended in New Mexico. Among them were the victim and her father. Shortly after their detainment, the group was transported to a facility in El Paso, Texas. It was there that the 7-year-old began having seizures within hours of being in Border Patrol custody. Claiming “Border Patrol agents took every possible step to save the child’s life”, the CBP is now under investigation.
Initially reported by The Washington Post, emergency responders measured her temperature at 105.7 Fahrenheit, just two degrees shy of incurring brain damage. A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency statement indicated the child “had not eaten or consumer water for several days”. Needing further care, emergency responders called for a helicopter transport to Providence Children’s Hospital, where the child went into cardiac arrest. She was “revived” but ultimately could not recover, passing at the hospital less than 24 hours after arriving for treatment.
Facing blame from the ACLU, CBP has been called out for a “lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty.” Offering nothing but their “sincerest condolences”, CBP will continue to draw the scrutiny of the public as this is the second death of a child in their care. A toddler passed six weeks after being released from an ICE facility. Having contracted a respiratory infection from receiving poor medical care, the toddler’s mother is not suing for the loss of her child.
Government officials have since spoken out about the tragedy. Beto O’Rourke has called for full transparency in the investigation of the child’s death. Congressman Joaquin Castro also asked for a full investigation by the Inspector General and Congress. Without autopsy results that could take weeks to receive, the country is talking about ways we can do better as a nation. As a country, we’re holding out hope we can rise from this humanitarian crisis.
Where is Justice for Cyntoia?
Time and time again we have seen the justice system fail Black people in America. This week, its victim is Cyntoia Brown.
Where Black or brown women & girls who are victims of sex trafficking get 51 years in prison for defending themselves against sexual predators….
… but white men who are sexual predators go to the US Congress, the Supreme Court & the White House.#CyntoiaBrown
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) December 8, 2018
The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that Cyntoia Brown must remain in prison for 51 years before she is eligible for release. This news comes as a response to a lawsuit that states Brown’s life sentence is unconstitutional. Violating the U.S. Constitution, a mandatory life sentence without parole is still what Cyntoia faces with judgment requiring imprisonment until the age of 69.
Having run away from home, Cyntoia, 16, was living with a pimp named “Kut Throat,” who abused her and forced her into the life. He was 24 at the time. After days of being drugged and sexually assaulted by various men, Cyntoia was passed off yet again. Purchased by Johnny Allen, a 43-year-old child predator, Cyntoia found her limit. She killed her abuser but has not received the same justice many women in her position have found.
Justice only comes in one color
As children, we grew up hearing stories about women like Francine Hughes, famous for the Burning Bed. A battered housewife, Francine set her husband on fire as he slept, freeing herself and her children from his tyranny. The prosecution and the defense agreed her plight was sympathetic. She was found not guilty.
In June 2016, a woman killed her husband in an argument over another woman. As punishment, she will serve one year in jail and 9 years on community corrections. In his judgment, Criminal Court Judge Stacy Street said:
“The lack of remorse in this case concerns me so much that I think Ms. Delaney needs to be reminded of what she has done, what she has taken from her children and from the victim’s family. I’m ordering her to serve 30 days in jail every June beginning June 1 through June 30 for the entire 10-year sentence.”
The modification of her judgment came out of concern for her high-risk pregnancy. What a luxury! Just Friday, new broke that New York City police officers forced a 27-year-old woman to give birth shackled to a hospital bed, in full violation of state law. The privilege of justice in this country only comes in one shade.
At this moment, there is a petition urging the judge hearing Cyntoia’s case to grant her clemency. It currently has 500,000 signatures but needs 1.1 million. I encourage everyone touched by her story and seeking justice for her to sign.
Charlottesville Driver Could Face 419 Years
Charlottesville driver, James Alex Fields Jr., could face life in prison plus 419 years. The sentence was recommended by jurors this afternoon.
Fields stands convicted of killing Heather Heyer, who was in a group of counterprotesters during the 2017 rally. Mowing through the crows, Fields has racked up five malicious wounding charges and one charge of leaving the scene of the accident. Jurors made their recommendation after listening to statements from Heather’s mother as well as those who were injured.
Deliberations took roughly four hours over two days, the jurors presented the judge with their decision. However, the judge will not formally sentence the driver until March 2019. On top of the 419-year sentence, the jurors also recommended $480,000 in fines.
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